Today's Response comes to you from the heart of SJN's communications director, Ambika Samarthya-Howard.

My mom retired a few weeks ago. She left for a long-awaited trip back to India a few days later, visiting her mother and family in Chennai whom she hasn’t seen in years. But she also did something very cool, and I suspect unusual: she did a road trip up north in the Himalayas with four high school friends.

I’ve been waking up these past few mornings to photos from Manali, a picturesque Himalayan city, and Amritsar in Punjab, home to the Golden Temple (Harmandir Sahib), the holiest gurdwara (religious complex) of the Sikh religion. It’s gorgeous. The photos have been mesmerizing, the visit undoubtedly a once-in-a lifetime pilgrimage.

These are also the sites of massive violence. Manali’s large Tibetan population arrived as refugees, many of whom ended up as road workers in the area. The Golden Temple is home to one of the most shocking incidents of state-sponsored violence in recent Indian history. The entire Northern part of India — as the subcontinent celebrates its 75th year of independence — is home to the largest and bloodiest migrations in history, displacing 15 million people and killing a million in the creation of Pakistan and India. 

I remind my mom of this before she leaves. I ask her to bring Buddhist flags home from Manali. To take a moment and remember at the Golden Temple. To open the windows to take in the cold air as she rides through Punjab. 

To remember there was much suffering here. And that these people, these places will always remain beautiful. 
- Ambika Samarthya-Howard
A photo of the snow-capped Himalayas in the distance.
A photo of The Golden Temple, shining and surrounded by water.
Trying To Heal The Wounds Of Partition, 75 Years Later - Diaa Hadid, NPR

Ongoing tensions and strict visa policies mean that many elderly survivors of the Partition of India and Pakistan have been unable to return to their ancestral homes. One virtual reality project is using 3-D videos to transport them to the villages and homes of their childhoods. The immersive experiences aim to heal the wounds of Partition by reuniting survivors with a taste of what they were forced to leave behind, allowing them to process some of the trauma.

The Clubhouse Room Where Israelis and Palestinians Are Actually Talking - Dahlia Lithwick, Slate

Healing can also come through intimate and honest conversations that humanize people who have historically belonged to groups in conflict. “Meet Palestinians and Israelis” brought together mostly young Palestinians and Israels to participate in around-the-clock moderated conversations in an online chat room. Rather than re-litigate history or compare suffering, participants shared personal stories and asked questions to understand each other’s perspectives. 


In Croatia, a hotel trying to heal war wounds - Debbie Rolls, BBC Travel

A Croatian hotel in a small village near the Bosnia-Herzegovina border is rebuilding and reuniting a community that is still scarred from the Balkans war in the 1990s. The hotel owners have refurbished almost a dozen of the town’s buildings, and they connect hotel guests with local survivors of the conflict who provide firsthand accounts of the region’s history. The hotel is working to bring together the ethnically diverse community with its hiring practices – they try to hire equal numbers of individuals from the region’s ethnic groups – and by collaborating with local residents.

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