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Using Slacklining to Cross Cultural Gaps

The premise of slacklining is rather simple: cross the gap. However, within this sport of balance, the void crossed is not always physical.

For slackliner Sonya Iverson, bridging political or cultural differences was no different from traversing over a bottomless gorge. Seeking to use lines to connect rather than divide, she spearheaded the Crossing Lines Initiative. Their first project was a cultural exchange between the US and Iran, in which she and a group of Americans attended an Iranian highlining festival. Their reception was so positive and welcoming, it showed her how easily the sport broke down preconceived barriers.

Slacklining provides a playful way for people to connect across cultural gaps as language is not necessary for teaching. Tara Atkinson Photo

Now Iverson is using the same line to cross gaps globally, with her latest crossing in Lebanon with the displaced refugees of Syria. While the project teaches the refugee children the main principles of the sport—balance, coordination, focus—it aids them more than just on the line. It gives them a place of balance amidst the turmoil. 

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