Building connection one heart at a time
Building connection one heart at a time

“We’ve Learnt to Be United Even When We Are Far Apart”

Vanda Gagiano on how the world has changed in 2021
01.17.2022
“We’ve Learnt to Be United Even When We Are Far Apart”

The Peace 50 community members summed up the results of the year 2021. They talked about the challenges and opportunities they had over the past year. In her interview with the Global Women Media news agency, Vanda Gagiano shared her vision of the transformation of the world the pandemic. She lists the values that have come to the forefront for humanity and the principles that are the core of effective international cooperation today.

Ванда_0T.jpg Vanda Gagiano
Honorary President of Free State Women Agricultural Union, South Africa

Vanda Gagiano is a woman of incredible energy. She is a leader and member of several communities who has initiated and participated in many social and humanitarian projects. Helping people is her life mission. After talking to her at least once, you will certainly see her sincerity, love for the world, and all-encompassing kindness.

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– What professional and social projects are the most important for you today? What is today’s focus of your efforts and attention?

– The past two years were very challenging for people from all countries. The COVID-19 pandemic was the worst crisis for humanity since World War II. That crisis has only strengthened my desire to carry out social projects, which have always been a priority for me.

Today, social activities are especially important because we have to change the world, transform it to make people feel safe and secure.

Taking part in humanitarian projects gives me great satisfaction. Moreover, I am a leader in a number of communities where I have the opportunity to share useful information with other people. I can share advice in areas, in which I am competent, my own experience, or just a charge of inspiration. The more we communicate, the better and stronger each of us becomes.

As a mentor, I strive to teach people who trust me to be independent and responsible for their words and actions. That is an important part of what I do. In my life, I adhere to the following principle: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”.

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– You travel a lot and often go on business trips to different countries. How has the world changed over the two years of the pandemic?

– People’s lives have changed at all levels: in the family, at work, in society, and in international cooperation. I believe that all that will have long-term consequences.

The world has become more inclusive and stable in pandemic conditions. We have experienced a ‘shake-up’ making the ‘sediment’ rise from the bottom. That helped us notice and correct a number of problems, thus making the ‘water’ cleaner.

The pandemic affected all areas of society. Business, education, and culture had to move into the digital space. On the one hand, that turned out to be a challenge. On the other hand, that opened new opportunities for development. For example, many people immersed themselves in the digital world in a very short time and learned to use online tools that they had never known before.

People’s habits, demands, and needs in addition to the values of society have changed radically over the past year. People’s attitudes towards many things have changed. In my opinion, we have become more responsible and conscious of time. We appreciate it more and use it more rationally today. Many people have reconsidered the world as a whole for themselves.

Of course, the most important lesson that we have all learned is to cooperate in the struggle against the problems affecting the entire world’s population. The pandemic is a difficult challenge but it made us more united.

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– Please, tell us about your visit to the Third Eurasian Women’s Forum in Saint Petersburg.

– For me, the Third Eurasian Women’s Forum was the highlight of 2021. Although the pandemic brought a lot of sad moments and losses into my life, I found the strength to go to Saint Petersburg after receiving an invitation. I would not trade that event for anything. The Eurasian Women’s Forum always gives me incredible inspiration, a boost of energy, and a lot of impressions from meeting wonderful people. It was a pleasure to make new acquaintances and see my friends again.

The Eurasian Women’s Forum takes place once in three years. However, its participants interact with one another all the time. I’m happy that I made real friends thanks to this event. I have been communicating with some of them for several years already.

At the forum, I presented a report, in which I shared my opinion on the use of collaboration, the interaction of women from different countries, and experience exchange in agriculture because I am the Honorary President of Free State Women Agricultural Union. Surprisingly, I was awarded the Public Recognition Award. I didn’t even know what to say. Unfortunately, none of my family was there to experience that happy moment with me. My husband usually accompanies me everywhere and we enjoy such moments together but the pandemic restrictions made their adjustments.

However, I still have the most wonderful memories of that event. It is a big honour for me to consider myself as a part of the global community of women working on the improvement of the lives of many people.

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– What is your vision of the world’s future? Will there be globalization, the elimination of borders, or, on the contrary, the delimitation and separation of individual countries? What is the key to a successful future: collaboration or self-isolation?

– It is quite difficult to make forecasts regarding this matter. I believe that strengthened urbanization and digitalization await the world. People will pay more attention to ecological issues and climate change problems in addition to the development of new technologies. In my opinion, a major part of the processes in all areas of social life will shift to online space.

Globalization brings changes affecting countries, businesses, separate people, and every one of us. It leads to the enforcement of interconnection of the global economy and those of separate countries.

It has become particularly noticeable during the pandemic that globalization erases borders. People need to isolate themselves and limit their social contacts but they do not stop feeling part of the globalized world.

I believe that collaboration is the key to a better future. In the self-isolation conditions, we live, learn, and develop on our own. However, collaboration makes it possible for us to learn from one another and exchange our ideas and enthusiasm. Thanks to their collaboration, people develop incredibly faster and their work becomes much more effective. In addition, more innovative ideas appear. Scientists have proved long ago that teamwork contributes to the growth of productivity and success in achieving goals.

That’s why I believe that we just need to learn to listen to one another, strive to understand one another, and build bridges, not walls, jointly.

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– All people of the world are very different. What does bring them together, in your opinion? What can they learn from one another? 

– We all live on the same planet. We share the same biosphere. That demonstrates our deep interrelation. Other people worldwide want for themselves the same things that we want for ourselves. Each of us wants to feel happy and safe, to have access to quality healthcare, justice, and education. We all want to be loved, understood, and accepted.

At the same time, everyone is different. Thanks to observing one another and communicating, we can expand our perception of the world, learn something new, and borrow the experience of other people’s success and mistakes.

There is always something we can learn from one another. We just need to be able to see the good in every person.

Fortunately, we have many ways to communicate with people from different countries today. You don’t even have to know a foreign language to do it. It’s amazing!

– What do you like most about the country you live in?

– I live in the southernmost region of South Africa. We have nine provinces, each of which is unique thanks to its own inimitable climate, landscapes, flora, and fauna.

The Republic of South Africa has a huge variety of natural beauties, animals, birds, and even marine species. We have amazing sights that are considered part of the world heritage. No natural disasters happen in our country. South Africa is truly very beautiful and just breathtaking!

I believe that tourists can learn from the people of our country how to interact with the natural world in a harmonious way and enjoy its beauty and uniqueness.

Importantly, our culture is inclusive and hospitable. We have exquisite wines and original cuisine with unique flavours. I would like to invite everyone to visit our country. I believe that you will find many interesting things in it.

– What is the ‘recipe’ for effective international or intercultural collaboration? What principles should be the basis of that collaboration?

– Knowledge of the cultures of other countries is a sustainable foundation for international collaboration. That is one of the key aspects in the context of globalization taking place today.

Moreover, international collaboration is currently being actively developed thanks to working together on innovations. The world has made great progress in creating new technologies. Today, it is almost impossible to invent something new and unique alone. People understand the need to come together in order to share experience, knowledge, and move forward together.

The clear formulation of goals and expectations, choice of the right partners, live communication, and flexibility are also important for international collaboration. I am very glad that people gradually start understanding that they should not only take something from one another but also give something in return and be useful. That is the only way to establish really effective collaboration.

– Why is it important for you to be involved in the Peace 50 community? Peace is a deep and multi-faceted notion. What does it mean to you?

– I really like the community system itself. It gives us the opportunity to be part of the big whole and unified, thus we can be useful. The Peace 50 community has a special meaning for me. It brings together not just women leaders but people who are spiritually close to one another. Many of them have become my friends.

One of the important values of the community lies in building horizontal communication and live informal communication. That kind of communication helped me find necessary contacts for solving serious economic, social, and humanitarian issues.

Friendship is often stronger and more effective than business agreements.

The fact that we become stronger, expand our opportunities and zone of influence by joining together is especially valuable for me. I used to be able to help only those people who were near me. Today, I can be useful to people on other continents as well.

For me, peace is a concept meaning respect and acceptance of differences among all people in the world. I would very much like us, women from different countries and fields of activities, who joined their hands to preserve peace to give a positive role model and inspire all those around us.

– What inspires you?

– Inspiration is something that motivates us to be better and take actions to improve our lives. The biggest inspiration for me is God who probably has his own plans for me.

In general, I am a very active person. Everything new and unknown inspires me: new hobbies, professional tasks, challenges, travelling to new countries, and meeting new people. Of course, I get a great boost of energy from my love for my family, friends, and people around me.

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– What life principles have you formulated for yourself during the challenging year 2021?

– We always need to think positive, stay focused, and believe that all bad things will come to an end someday. We should remember that the current situation also has its advantages. I once read a book and just three words from it are now forever in my memory: “Nothing is forever”. That concerns both positive and negative things. The pandemic will come to its end, that’s only a matter of time.

At the same time, I strongly believe that it is important and necessary to be sad sometimes. One can’t always be joyful. Bad things happen and one can’t escape from them. If a person feels overwhelmed with negative emotions, he or she must let them out. The main thing is to make sure that it doesn’t harm other people and is a temporary phenomenon.

Sadness is needed for us to survive negative things and move forward after making our consciousness emotionally clear.

Positive thinking is like a chain reaction. If we, women, mothers, and wives, wake up with a smile on our faces, all our family members will also be in a good mood. When we get out of bed on the wrong side, everything will be completely opposite. I’ve noticed that many times. We, women, have a certain power to transmit our moods to others. We should use that power for good.

– What would you wish people of the world?

– I wish everyone to live and develop together. Look at the world from the perspective of love and take into consideration the opportunities we have. I would like unity and peace to prevail in the world. Let us be united by what we have in common rather than divided by our differences. May peace and tranquility come from our humility and care for those around us.

Marina Volynkina, Nikolay Gavrilov, Viktoria Gusakova, Global Women Media news agency

Translated by Nikolay Gavrilov


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© 1996-2021 The Institute for the Humanities and Information Technologies
All rights reserved Global Women Media news agency
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