In this day and age, the world starts right at the ends of our fingertips. With just a click of our mouse, we can learn about the traditions of Indonesian cooking, the wedding practices of southern India, the annual rates of snowfall in Oslo and what the most popular television show in Buenos Aires is. With technology, we can connect and interact with other cultures in ways our ancestors could never have imagined possible, which helps us to better understand one another and the world we live in. Plus, great travel sites, like Hipmunk, make it easier than ever to take the things we learn online and put them into practice by going on real life global adventures.
Whether you know a lot about other cultures or are eager to learn more, check out our list below for some great tips on how to engage with the world around you!
Deep understanding always begins with deep empathy, so any understanding of the world must begin by learning how to extend empathy to other cultures and people. You can achieve this in many ways, but I’ve found that the best way is simply to learn and interact with as many different cultures and people as possible. When the unknown becomes known, you can better understand the history and motivations behind actions that might at first seem strange or weird. This, in turn, will make you more open and less judgmental about cultures outside of your own.
When you’re born into and spend your whole life living inside one culture, it’s easy to think your culture is the world, with you at its center. But once you start interacting with and learning about other cultures, you start to understand just how big and diverse the world actually is. At first, this might make you feel small and a bit odd, but over time, being able to step back and gain some perspective on the actual scale of things will make your understanding of your culture and of the world more dynamic and colorful.
Join the Global Community
With this deep empathy and new perspective, you’ll be able to view the world not simply as the planet Earth or as a place in which several disparate countries exist, but as a global community. And as with the small communities you might be familiar with at home, this global community only thrives when its members work together to better understand one another. Interacting with other cultures, then, helps you to be a better member of this amazing community.
Contribute to the Common Good
Once you’ve immersed yourself in the global community, you can begin to better understand how you can contribute your talents and skills to the common good. If you’re a builder, maybe you put your skills to work by traveling to Thailand after the rainy season to rebuild homes affected by heavy rains and flooding. If you’re a teacher, maybe you teach English to a student in Madrid via Skype once a week. If you’re a writer like me, maybe you write about ways in which interacting with other cultures can help broaden one’s understanding of the world. Whatever it is, you can find a way to use your gifts to make our community a better place, and once you do, you’ll better understand and appreciate your place within it.