In this powerful social experiment, Amnesty International attempts to break down the barriers between recent refugees and their new European neighbours.
The formula is simple: sit down and spend four minutes staring into a stranger’s eyes.
Sound uncomfortable? Initially yes, but the result is beautiful. Pairing a refugee from Syria or Somalia with someone from the UK, Italy, Germany or Poland, the video explores the power of eye contact to bring people closer together. As the participants gaze into each other’s eyes, any initial awkwardness fades away.
Don’t believe it? Watch – and then, if you’re feeling brave – try it yourself.
Seemingly worlds apart, the strangers find common humanity in their vulnerability.
The Look Beyond Borders video is based on a theory developed by psychologist Arthur Aron in 1997 that four minutes of uninterrupted eye contact increases intimacy. Recently, the New York Times published a 36-step formula for falling in love - ending on the challenge to spend four minutes staring into your partner’s eyes. Amnesty International Poland and Polish ad agency DDB&Tribal’s latest twist applies the theory to the refugee crisis. It’s a moving and creative attempt to foster a spirit of empathy for those forced to flee their homes, confronted with the challenge of integrating into a new home.
“Today, when the world appears rife with division and conflict, it is always worthwhile to look at everything from another person’s perspective,” says Draginja Nadażdin, Director of Amnesty International Poland.
“Too often, what gets lost in the numbers and headlines is the suffering of actual people, who, like us, have families, friends, their own stories, dreams and goals. What if we stopped for just a moment and looked at who they really are?
“Borders exist between countries, not people. And it is imperative that our governments start putting people before borders and their own short-term political gain.”
Ultimately, this eye-opening experiment proves that it doesn’t take long to see beyond borders, you just have to look.