by Luke Rajczuk
This year’s Beyond Borders Festival of Literature and Thought, organized annually by Mark and Catherine Muller Stuart, has not disappointed content and audience wise. Although last year’s post-Scottish independence vote and pre-Brexit referendum festival seemed like a bulging venue in terms of debate, views, crowds and hunger for opinion the 2016’s edition of the happening brought no less attention.
Debates and talks included historical divagations on Mary Queen of Scots who herself visited the Traquair House in the past, as well as more current topics on the issues of Scotland’s future in the EU, role of women in conflict zones, politics and power, or the bewildering battle for presidency between Trump and Clinton.
Walking around the astonishing premises of the oldest inhabited house in Scotland, where the gathering took place, I could not stop myself from asking the visitors how they felt about the project and the prevailing tone was thus:
“This is a great chance to listen to politicians and great thinkers of the world, and actually understand what they’re saying, for once!”
“Debates are to the point and transparent! Striking honesty!”
The highlight of this year’s Beyond Borders was Women in Conflict Peace Initiative and Fellows launched last year by the Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, also actively present among the panel of keynote speakers. This session included activists from Syria, Libya, Yemen and Iraq, expressing their views on humanitarian crisis or the role of the media and misrepresentations in reporting from conflict zones. The talks concluded with a magnificent Jewish rendition from a Christian violinist from Syria, dedicating the song to all Muslims.
Events such as this bring great opportunities to all members of the society. They form a platform for talks, exchange and source of current information where ordinary people are entitled to interact and ask the most delicate and mind-boggling questions, in the most soothing and relaxing atmosphere of the Scottish countryside landscapes.
To get the feel of what Beyond Borders is about, watch our film:
Film by: Luke Rajczuk