For the Expo 2020 Tolerance and Inclusivity thematic week, the Swiss Pavilion together with Swissnex brought together experts and stakeholders from Switzerland and the Middle East, who are actively helping to shape a more tolerant and inclusive reality. The aim was to look at tolerance and inclusivity through the eyes of education and cultural heritage. In this context the Swiss pavilion organized a series of events and participated in a World Majlis session hosted at the Italy pavilion.
Cultural heritage preservation
The Swiss Pavilion hosted the panel “Inspiration from the past for a better future: How can preserving cultural heritage safeguard tolerance in our societies?”, which highlighted the research of the Collart-Palmyra Project from the University of Lausanne. The project consists of a digital restoration of the Baalshamin temple in Palmyra, Syria materials from the archives of the Swiss archaeologist Paul Collart who documented the site in the 1930s-60s. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980, the Temple of Baalshamin was destroyed with explosives by the Daech/ISIS group in 2015. But thanks to the numerous pictures, cards, notes, letters, and plans collected, Paul Collart’s archives that constitute the best source in the world to document the sanctuary, PhD. Patrick Michel and the team from University of Lausanne were able to reconstruct virtually the Temple of Baalshamin, in collaboration with ICONEM. This cultural heritage is an important element for social cohesion and the reconstruction of identities in this post-conflict context and the project is based on superimposition of 3D modeling on archive photos taken by Paul Collart in the 50s.
The panel brought together a range of international experts, including lecturer Patrick Michel at University of Lausanne, who presented the Collart-Palmyra Project, Dr. Zaki Aslan, Regional Representative of ICCROM for the Arab States, Mr. Valery Freland, Executive Director of the ALIPH International alliance for the protection of heritage in conflict areas and Prof. Grazia Tucci, director of the GECO Laboratory. This lively conversation happened in the presence of HE Massimo Baggi, Ambassador of Switzerland to the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in the presence of Mr. Ali Al Shaali – Acting Assistant undersecretary for Heritage and Arts Sector, Ministry of Culture and Youth. Finally, the visitors could discover the exhibition on tolerance and inclusivity in the Swiss Pavilion, which featured the work Collart-Palmyra Project and the Rafisa ICT 4 Autism programme for vocational education in the ICT field for people in the spectrum of autism.
Creating an inclusive reality
To showcase inclusivity at Expo 2020, Swiss Pavilion partnered with ICT 4 Autism, a Swiss organization offering vocational education to people with autism in the ICT field. Among the important events of the week at the Swiss Pavilion, the RAFISA institution presented their project called ICT 4 Autism, which aims to integrate autistic students in the working world like any other employee and held a workshop featuring vocational education from the social, pedagogical and performance perspective. ICT 4 Autism program has a rate of success of nearly 95%, their alumni being able to strive in leading Swiss and international companies. Through their activities, they showcase how TVET (Technical and Vocational Education and Training) can allow people of determination to take an active role in society.
On the strength of their results, they have recently opened a subsidiary in the UAE in order to share their approach with the UAE and the world, considering that the UAE and especially Dubai have done fantastic advances in working with people of determination up to the age of 16. The aim of this subsidiary is to bring the Swiss vocational training system to the UAE as it has the highest recognition in the world in every respect.
- University of Lausanne (UNIL)
The University of Lausanne is a higher teaching and research institution composed of seven faculties where approximately 15,600 students and about 3,900 research, teaching et technical staff. Its research activities focus on three main themes: human and social sciences, life sciences and medicine, and environmental sciences.
- RAFISA ICT 4 Autism
The Stiftung Informatik für Autisten is a training programme. The foundation sees it as its mission to develop the potential of young people with special needs requirements and to provide them with practical know-how in the IT realm based on extensive training, as well as in the area of social skills so that they can become “”productive members”” of our society similar to people without disabilities.