Joynicole Martinez: Road to Peace
Joynicole Martinez is an expert in several fields at once, a person of many talents, a mother with a big family, and a woman who inspires people around her with her infinite energy, positive mood, and charm. Today, she provides consulting and carries out practical work as an epidemiologist, is engaged in journalism, is a university professor and a business coach, and builds the capacity of people and companies. Joynicole Martinez sees her main mission in developing and strengthening international horizontal relations based on cultural diplomacy.
CEO of The Alchemist Agency, Director of Research & Development at World Women Foundation, member of the Peace 50 community
As a member of several international communities, Joynicole often visits different countries and says that she loves Russia. During this visit to Moscow, the expert not only attended a series of business meetings and events but also delivered a series of open dialogues with students. Joynicole believes that young people play a key role in the preservation and development of peace. The thing is that, in the future, the older generations will pass the planet to young people.
As part of her interview with the Global Women Media news agency, Joynicole Martinez talked about her vision of the power of youth cultural diplomacy. She explained the challenges that the world is facing today and what adults can learn from the younger generation.
– Cultural diplomacy presupposes establishing communication among people from different parts of the world thanks to the language of art. What is the value and importance of that type of communication?
– For a long time, people tried to bring our nations closer together using the traditional diplomatic way: signing agreements and treaties and establishing political partnerships. That gave its result but not to the extent that humanity had hoped. There can be many reasons for failure in that area: lack of resources, geographic and linguistic barriers, pandemics, and a number of other factors. As experience shows, cultural diplomacy is many times more effective because it is focused first and foremost on the people themselves. It is focused on ordinary citizens making choices in life rather than politicians who are ‘limited’ by official rules, templates, and bureaucratic norms.
Cultural diplomacy includes art, business, and social partnership. Those are powerful tools for bringing people closer together because all the listed areas are aimed at making people’s lives better.
The value of cultural diplomacy lies in the fact that it brings together specific people: inhabitants of different countries, students, artists, entrepreneurs, and social activists. In other words, all decisive events take place not at the level of top officials, in which ordinary citizens can’t be involved, but in the ‘heart of the nation’, when everyone’s participation and words make a real difference. Metaphorically speaking, wells in villages are dug not by states but by people who care and want everyone to have access to clean water.
The Institute for the Humanities and Information Technologies where I delivered this week’s lectures for students carries out an interesting project: Days of Contemporary Art (DOCA) international festival. That is a bright example of effective cultural diplomacy. Artists from different countries use their works to talk about things that are important to humanity: the future, ecology, social and political issues. Art is based not on words and documents but on feelings and emotions. That makes it possible for people to show their true thoughts and values.
When people from different countries start communicating with one another openly and sincerely, they understand that they are not that different. People of different cultures, religions, ages, and interests want the same things: to be happy and to live in a peaceful and secure world. That unity of desires and aspirations is a powerful connecting element for effective cooperation. I believe that there is nothing more valuable than cultural diplomacy because it unites humanity for the sake of a happy future.
– What role do art and music play in each person’s life?
– I believe that art is our soul. The works of art are reflected in the mind, the conscious and the subconscious, and affect the feelings and emotions of the individual. When we see something beautiful that echoes within us, it certainly changes the way we think and who we are. I believe, that is the main power of art.
When we watch films and plays or read books, we experience moments that we have probably never experienced in real life. Characters can take us to completely new worlds and that gives us a unique experience. Of course, music has a huge impact on the emotional state of a person. For example, I feel relieved when I get in the car and turn on the music after a busy day. Good music helps you get rid of fatigue, calm down, or, on the contrary, cheer up. I am sure that every person knows how that works.
Art is not only a way how people can express themselves and project their feelings and emotions into the outside world. Art is also a tool for transforming the inner world.
There is an opinion that the human soul brings together three key elements: mind (our thinking), emotion (the ability to react to everything that happens to us), and will (the ability to make choices). Art and creativity involve each of those elements. The soul manifests itself in art and art touches us to the core.
– What can unite and bring different countries together in addition to art and culture? What is the secret of strong and effective intercultural communication?
– A sincere desire to listen and hear one another can bring together countries. I have noticed that we worry very often about the fact whether people around us understand us. At the same time, we don’t think much about whether we understand them. I believe that we need to ask ourselves more often about what our interlocutor wants to say instead of focusing on what we want to say.
Any communication is effective only when each of its participants is guided by the principle ‘I want to hear, not only to say’.
Controversy and disagreement often arise in the process of communication. It is absolutely normal that different people have different opinions. The main thing is how communication participants strive to come to the problem’s solution. Some people interrupt everyone, shout loudly, and insist on their point of view. The better option is to sit calmly and let all interlocutors express their opinions, and then to reflect on every point of view and understand it. Active listening and trying to understand is the very ‘secret ingredient’ of effective communication.
It’s wonderful to communicate and share. Constructive exchange of experience, knowledge, ideas, and opinions makes communication stronger. However, that mutually beneficial communication bringing people closer together is only possible when it is based on honesty, sincerity, and the desire to step back from stereotypes and prejudices so as to consider the situation from different perspectives.
– You visit Russia quite often. What is your favourite thing about this country and the people living here?
– Unfortunately, the picture of Russia in the minds of people living in the USA is still strongly influenced by its Soviet image. That is how the perception of people who have never been to Russia is formed. Probably, they would be very much surprised when coming here.
I am especially impressed and inspired by the diversity of people living in Russia. When walking the streets here, you can meet representatives of different ethnicities, cultures, and religions. Even without understanding the Russian language, foreigners can feel the difference in accents and manners of speaking of people from different regions of Russia.
Why was I surprised? We have never been told about the cultural richness and ethnic diversity of people in your country. Many people in the USA know only that ‘white people live in Russia’. However, the reality shows that many different indigenous peoples with their unique stories live in your country. Americans heard that, in Soviet times, the country was divided into many separate ‘lands’. However, we have never considered those ‘lands’ as separate regions with their own culture, distinctive features, and traditions harmoniously combined into a holistic picture. That is amazing and we should discuss that more worldwide.
– The Peace 50 community's meeting was about youth cultural diplomacy. In your opinion, what can adults learn from young people? Why are such dialogues especially important today?
– The truth is that nobody lives forever. The generations come and go. If we want our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren to inherit a ‘healthy’ planet, to preserve peace for centuries, we must establish intergenerational dialogue today.
What we do today will inevitably influence the future. That is why it would be a big mistake to address any problems related to global challenges and the preservation of peace without engaging young people in it.
We can’t build a better future for our children without knowing how they see it.
Such an approach can be figuratively compared to that applied in different fields of activity. For example, in business, a company is doomed to failure if its management does not take into account the views of employees, shareholders, and stakeholders in its long-term strategy. In construction, architects and designers always agree on layouts with the customers, the people who will live in the future house.
When we do something for our planet without involving young people in that process, we have a risk of creating a future uncomfortable for our children. We can say that we are building a house without considering the customer’s wishes. Excluding young people from the decision-making process is a historical mistake. I hope we will learn not to make it in the future. I believe that we are already on the right path when aspiring for peace and starting to listen to the voice of youth regarding the world’s future development.
– You communicated a lot with students and young people in Russia and in the United States. Based on the thoughts and ideas that you heard from them, what can you say about your vision of the future of our world? What will society be like in a decade?
– I believe that society will become more inclusive. It will be less concerned about people’s belonging to certain groups.
From our childhood, we all know bullies who like to tease and make fun of other people on social media or in real life. Unfortunately, today, some people use unique opportunities given by modern technologies not for good but for showing their ‘rebellious spirit’. Thus, they leave their negative digital trace influencing the whole information space. However, I believe that this trend is becoming less popular. The younger generation starts approaching other people with more tolerance and acceptance. Today, many young people focus the manifestations of their rebelliousness not on protests and conflicts but on the implementation of really useful initiatives.
I believe that, in the future, people will be able to calmly accept themselves and one another as they are. They will communicate with those they want to and will not be influenced by stereotypes. There won’t be outsiders or ‘rejected people’ in such a world.
Driven by caring about our children, we have learned to be more responsive to any manifestation of their individuality. Young people make us become better. We can learn much from our children. They assimilate information and adapt to the changes much quicker than we do. The main thing is that they subconsciously see an individual in any person.
– As an epidemiologist, you worked in the ‘red zone’ at the beginning and during the peak of the pandemic. What irreversible changes has the pandemic brought to the world? What challenges should the younger generation be ready for?
– The pandemic has revealed many existing problems in different fields of society’s life. For example, the issue of climate change has become particularly often discussed in the scientific community. In fact, the spread of viral diseases is directly linked to wind direction and strength, air humidity, and temperature norms. The COVID-19 pandemic has spread over the entire planet and has become the greatest challenge to humanity. However, we cannot focus all our attention and resources on solving the problem. We need an integrated approach. If we don’t improve the ecological situation and allow global warming to occur, the world may be confronted with even worse viral diseases. After all, no one can say for sure what is hidden under the melting glaciers. It can become a problem for future generations sooner or later.
Everything in the world is interrelated. The pandemic has shown that clearly. Such a lesson has been costly for the humanity.
The pandemic has also shown that the solution will neither emerge from chaos nor appear on its own. Humanity must react to the challenge by taking joint measures. By closing their borders and fencing off one another in an attempt to solve the coronavirus problem, governments are only creating more difficulties. They are closing the channels of communication and preventing one another from sharing resources. However, today, the whole world needs to come together to solve the problem.
The pandemic has really changed social life and affected people’s thinking and behaviour. The requirement of wearing masks is a simple and bright example of that. For the adult generation, it is still something new and not quite familiar. However, for children who have encountered the pandemic in their early years wearing masks in public places is an absolutely normal part of daily routine. They have not seen or remembered a world that was somehow different. We are raising a whole generation who will not approach many things the same way we did.
– What can today's adults do for the rising and future generations?
– It always seems to us that we must teach and share our experience and values with our children. However, I believe that the best what we can do is to give them more freedom and an opportunity to make their own choices. The scientific progress and volumes of knowledge that people receive have leapt forward greatly in the last hundred years. Today, we have access to opportunities that we couldn’t even imagine before. Science and technology have reached incredible heights. People have even learned to edit the genome! Or, for example, today’s smartphones can do what cameras and computers could not do a couple of decades ago. I believe that innovation is the key to solving the global challenges that humanity faces today.
Fortunately, our children are adapting to the rapid development of the world very quickly. We all can learn a lot from them in terms of taking advantage of the new opportunities given by innovation.
Our task is to give freedom to that ‘explosion of innovation’. The most important thing we can do for young people is perhaps to teach them to use their talents and potential for the benefit of peace and society.
– What would you wish women of the world?
– I would like women of the world to never have to ask for equality again. Women don’t want to compete with men or become like them. Men and women have their own unique natural qualities, traits, strengths, and weaknesses.
When talking about gender equality, we are saying that we want equal opportunities to live our lives and fulfil our potential. Women can bring much use and value to different professions and fields of activity. That is not because they are better than men but because they are different. I want women to remain who they are and retain their femininity. But I also want them to be seen as ‘strong players’ in society and have access to everything they need to fulfil themselves.
Viktoria Gusakova, Global Women Media news agency
Translated by Nikolay Gavrilov