BY BRITTANY ORIE
This world is rapidly changing, in both negative and positive ways. In a nation where people of different races and cultures are starting to feel a bit more divided from one another, we can still overcome this obstacle beautifully. There are ways we can connect with those of different cultures even to the simplest degree. There are ways we can identify with them, diminishing any dividing lines. So, how can we connect with people of different cultures?
Learn their stories/upbringing. I believe that people of different nationalities hold a unique story. We all have a story that shaped us, but with different cultures, we can learn something new and profound. We can inquire about their lives back in their country, what led them to America, and what it was like for them adapting to American culture. But ask lovingly, not intrusively.
Learn about their interests and aspirations. This will help you connect with them, perhaps on a deeper level, and discover some passions, beliefs, and interests you may have in common with them.
What are their traditions and celebrations? How do they observe holidays, whether or not they are American holidays? What about religious observations or cultural customs? It can be exciting to learn about these elements and gain perspective and understanding about diverse cultures.
Read some books, online articles, or watch some films that will give you good insight. Rather than adhering to popular media which may paint false stereotypes, try reading some historical novels or cultural nonfiction—preferably written by an author of the given nationality (e.g., Jumpha Lahiri’s The Lowland), some documentaries, or some online articles or forums that can shed some light. Whatever your style is when it comes to learning about different cultures, go for it! We may learn some challenges they had to overcome to get to where they are now.
Studying different languages is another amazing way to swim a little deeper into cultural studies. For example, scholastic Spanish courses include a variety of cultural canals that lead us to an ocean of insight, such as holidays, religion, festivals, styles of dance, food, architecture, and so much more.
Attend local events that embrace diversity…or an event where there is likely to be a variance in colors and cultures. Not only will this bring you into a sea of diversity, the event itself will educate you on different countries and their customs. Events such as international food festivals, cultural theatre and dance will enrich you with fresh knowledge and perspective about different cultures.
Why is it so important to embrace diversity?
Our country is racially and culturally in a fragile state. We can all use and give genuine love and support from each other. Love is the only force that is vigorous enough to drown out the hate and intolerance that is driven by our differences.
Also, the feeling of love and acceptance goes a long way. We all bring something beautiful and unique to this melting pot; we all have an important ingredient that makes that pot special. So, we should appreciate what different cultures bring.
Accepting one another of a different race or culture and showing genuine interest in them illustrates what real love looks like: loving one another despite our differences.
Uplifting Quotes on Diversity:
“It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.”— Maya Angelou
“We need to help students and parents cherish and preserve the ethnic and cultural diversity that nourishes and strengthens this community – and this nation.”— Cesar Chavez
“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”— Martin Luther King, Jr.
“I can see myself in all things and all people around me.”— Sanskrit Phrase
“Diversity is the one true thing we all have in common. Celebrate it every day.”— Author Unknown
“We need to give each other the space to grow, to be ourselves, to exercise our diversity. We need to give each other space so that we may both give and receive such beautiful things as ideas, openness, dignity, joy, healing, and inclusion.”— Max de Pree