As cliché as it sounds, today we live in a global village where virtual connection from anyone living in any part of the world can be made in seconds. Yet, today’s world is more xenophobic than ever before. Today’s modern people believe in more stereotypes regarding other nations than what one would expect. Today we tend to generalize, fear and exclude “the other” more than our previous generations.
Cultural exchanges are significant in such scenarios. Let us explore why.
Provide alternative perspective
Cultural exchanges provide an opportunity to explore other cultures, traditions, customs, beliefs, societies, languages and much more. Hence, such opportunities make you view the world with a different lens. This provides alternative perspectives! It broadens one’s horizons and increases the tendency of acceptance.
Makes one aware of one’s own self and culture
By understanding differences from others, one tends to recognize one’s own self. Cultural exchanges allow us to experience the exotic cultures, but at the same time, provide an opportunity to better understand our own cultures and traditions. Hence, these opportunities act as widows of self-awareness.
Increases knowledge about our world
Directly experiencing something is the best way to learn. Therefore, cultural exchanges allow us to experience another culture by living and learning about languages, customs, traditions, lifestyles, food, social structures and what not!
Makes one understand the beauty of diversity
Diversity is beautiful. It is the pre-requisite of unity. Unity, instead of uniformity, creates tolerance, acceptance and flexibility. To attain unity, it is necessary to appreciate diversity. Cultural exchanges help us do just that. When one experiences other cultures, view the world with another lens, accept the “other”, one understands the very essence of diversity which is the first step towards attaining unity.
Helps debunk misconceptions and stereotypes
“All Pakistanis are terrorists!”
“Really? Have you met any?”
“No, but I have heard it on media so many times, so of course, where there’s smoke, there’s fire!”
These are stereotypes and misconceptions about nations which are believed across the globe. Cultural exchanges help us fight against them by representing our real selves by interacting with those who have never met us before.
One can become ambassador of one’s country
Cultural exchange experience allows us to represent our country to the world. It’s a pleasure in itself and makes us proud! However it comes with stewardship. A responsibility to act right because you are a representative. Also, a responsibility to show compassion to others because there are already enough misconceptions about your nation.
Make new friends
What is better than to meet new people, and make new friends? Cultural exchanges are loaded with such opportunities. Lets grab them!
One day this world will erase misconceptions about Pakistan and realize that we are friendly people too. Lets take a step in that direction.