Importance of Knowing Other Cultures
Length: 707 words (2 double-spaced pages)
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Cross-cultural experiences can be numerous things. It could be as simple as having a potluck, joining a book club, or participating in a forum. Cross-cultural experiences can also be moving to or visiting a different neighborhood, city, state, or country. All of these activities involve an exchange of ideas about people's identities.
Let us suppose an American boy, who I will refer to as "person A" for the purposes of this paper, visits his Japanese friend, "person B.," In their everyday interactions, they talk about their families, ancestors, history, favorite food, hobbies, etc. Person A, consciously or not, gives knowledge of the reality of his culture. As in any other initial exposure to something foreign, person B enters into this experience with some preconceived notions. As he listens to and observes person A, he comes to understand an identity - particularly, that of person A. Consequently, person B gains knowledge, and uses it to resolve his stereotypes and rightfully adjust his opinions. A more significant consequence of this particular cross-cultural experience is what results in person B. In such an exchange two things come to effect. One, person B becomes compelled to teach person A about his own culture. His appreciation for his new knowledge, as well as his own desire to rid others of misconceptions about his culture drives him to share his identity with those around him, starting with his friend. Eventually, the knowledge spreads; and so does the drive to educate. Two, this exchange allows person B to exercise the important virtue of having an open mind. He becomes open to experience different cultures because of a resulting desire to understand the diverse world. In turn, the world environment continues to develop because, not only are there more people who are willing to educate, more people are willing to learn with an open mind.
The evolution of the globalized societal landscape is directly connected to the occurrence of cross-cultural experiences. This is because, with more understanding about the world cultures, we can continue to evolve as a unified group of individuals. The world environment is defined by how we interact with each other. It involves relationships as inclusive as a country's interaction with another country or as intimate as someone's friendship with his roommate.
Globalization relies on not only preserving these relationships but also, more importantly, improving them. Cross-cultural experiences allow us to go beyond tolerating our neighbors. In time and with an open mind, they allow us to understand them. So because cross-cultural experiences help person A to understand person B, they improve not only the interaction between persons A and B, but also these two people's interactions with those around them in general.
The understanding that we get from being exposed to the different world cultures makes us more compassionate, generous and loving to our neighbors. By understanding a person's culture, we can appreciate the things that are unique to each group as well as those that they have in common. It is by realizing these common grounds that we become one unified society. The reoccurring picture of the global alliance against terrorism is a good example of this. There is no better display of humanity and the evolution of a unified world than the overwhelming support of people from every continent to ameliorate the damages done on the United States and to prevent any further terrorist acts.
When we completely immerse ourselves in a different culture abroad, or even if we are simply looking at an exhibit of a museum or reading Rigoberta Menchu's book, we become one step closer to knowing a culture. The knowledge that we gain allows us to understand what we have in common with a person who sits next to us in the office or a person who lives on the opposite side of the globe.
Consequently, we individually contribute to humanity by being more compassionate in our everyday interactions. With the spread of understanding, more people seek to educate others about themselves in return. The learning then continues and, therefore, the world continues to become unified.