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The Beauty of Different Cultures

Updated on March 2, 2015

The world is a mixture of cultures

Most of us live in multinational surroundings these days. It is not uncommon to marry somebody from another country, whether very far away or a bit closer. Culture is something that binds people together. But it can also be a reason for division. How does our own culture affect the way we view others? How can we benefit from all these different cultures? Many funny things happen when people of different culture meet!

International picture from Allposters.

CULTURE is-

- particular society at a particular time and place

- the tastes in art and manners that are favored by a social group

- acculturation: all the knowledge and values shared by a society

- the attitudes and behavior that are characteristic of a particular social group or organization

Princeton.edu

Look at me!

I remember my mother always telling me to look at her when she was talking to me, especially if it was something important. It was (and still is for many of us) a way of showing that we are paying attention in a respectful way. Now, my friend from Nigeria told me that she never allows her children to look at her when she's talking! "I want them to respect me",she says.Who is right? Both.

That's the beauty of culture, there is no such thing as right and wrong, good or bad culture (as long as it doesn't violate human rights). Each person is entitled to an opinion, a culture, a way of life that is good for him/her.

"No culture can live, if it attempts to be exclusive." M.Gandhi

When sharing a neighbourhood

Of course, one has to take into consideration people living in the vicinity. We all have to be flexible. A person has to adjust to the country where he chooses to live, even if he had to leave his country involuntarily, like refugees

On the other hand, when people move into our country, we can make an effort to get to know their culture. Ask them about their country, ask them why they do certain things or wear different clothes. It can be quite interesting, actually!

This doesn't mean we have to like it, or live our lives their way. Knowing and doing something are two different things! But it can definitely lead to less friction and more understanding between people.

Holding hands/Eating ice-cream

Different cultures are so interesting!

One time I was out walking with my friend from Ethiopia. When we had to cross a busy street,she took my hand. I really felt uneasy about this, no woman has held my hand since I was a little child. Later I asked somebody, and they explained that in Ethiopia, men hold hands with men and women with women! Never do husband and wife hold hands!

This happened 25 years ago. I can truthfully say that I still don't like a woman holding my hand...But at least I know that nothing bad is intended, and that this is their culture. They think some things we do are strange. For example, they never eat in the street. Not even ice-cream. Wonder what they think of our take-away sandwiches, lattes, etc. that we consume on our way to work!!

Picture by heyhey48

“People can only live fully by helping others to live. When you give life to friends you truly live. Cultures can only realize their further richness by honoring other traditions. And only by respecting natural life can humanity continue to exist.”

Daisaku Ikeda

It's not always easy.

When culture is developing

Sometimes, culture can be a burden. If you don't really believe in what you are doing, for example.

Or perhaps, as in many countries today, the old way of life is changing. In the most remote, poorest parts of the earth we can find satellite dishes. This makes other cultures come closer, and affects the way people view their own lives. They start thinking about how others are doing things.

All of this creates a younger generation with new values, a not fully developed "new" culture. A culture in development. This often leads to problems with the older generation, who think that what was good for them is good for their children. Understanding and compromise are important in these situations.

Old Man with Young Child at Blackpool from Allposters

Source

People of different culture.

A friend of mine (of Greek origin) was sent to Sweden by the head-office in the US, to introduce a new computer program to their branch in Sweden. This newly created program would greatly improve production and profit. After presenting this program, he waited for the feed-back from the managers. At first it was quiet. Then the general manager said:-"Hm, this looks good."in a low, flat voice."Hm, I agree" said another. My friend couldn't believe his ears, he was in shock. Later on when he recounted this to me he said: "My mother uses expression such as Marvellous! Divine! just to describe her break-fast! These people were presented with a multi-billion dollar program, and all they can say is Hm, Very good. I don't understand it!"


Corfu, Greece
Corfu, Greece | Source

Why?

What was the problem? CULTURE. What is an acceptable way of expressing elation and joy in one country, is not the same in another. Those Swedes were thrilled, they thought it was a fantastic computer program. They just had a different way of showing it. If they had heard his mother expressing herself in that way over her break-fast, they would not have liked it. To them, it would have been exaggerated!

Now, Greeks and Swedes might be on the opposite ends when it comes to expressing feelings, the two extremes of Europe. But it does highlight the point that we are different.


Preservation of one's own culture does not require contempt or disrespect for other cultures.

Cesar Chavez

Multiracial team
Multiracial team | Source

The best way to use culture

When culture is understood and used in an appropriate way, it can give to a person a feeling of belonging and security. You know what to do in different situations, for example at the time of birth and death. Everybody does the same, more or less, and this can be a comfort. You know how other people perceive you, and how they understand your actions.

So let's give place to culture. Try to know and understand other people's culture, and also try to analyze our own. Think about why we do certain things and how. Let's choose our own way of life, perhaps borrowing a bit from others, but above all else- let's live in peace with all men!


Diversity Day

May 21st

The UN has declared May 21st as Diversity Day- a day to promote understanding and knowledge of other cultures. Many schools and offices will be having special programs in connection with this.

Here you can get more information on how to organize Diversity Day at the office

.

Travel guides are a good way of learning about different cultures!

Do you find different cultures interesting? - Tell us your experience!

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    • profile image

      Mubarak 20 months ago

      I found this to be absolutely fascinating. Thank you so much, may GOD bless you!

      Best regards,

      Nigeria.

    • kabbalah lm profile image

      kabbalah lm 4 years ago

      If only we could all get along

    • profile image

      cmadden 4 years ago

      I loved the examples of how people from different cultures react to the same situations. I remember the same attitude regarding holding hands in Fiji.

    • Tennyhawk profile image

      Tennyhawk 4 years ago

      The clash of cultures isn't just restricted to one country's culture vs. another. I've observed the clash of cultures when two people get married and try to reconcile their families' different traditions. You begin to notice all the little things, right down to how they spread their butter or mop the floor. And just like international cultural differences, reconciling the two cultures isn't a matter of deciding which one is right and which one is wrong. It's respecting each other's culture and coming to a consensus on what's right for your family at this moment.

      A very thought-provoking lens! Thanks.

    • sukkran trichy profile image

      sukkran trichy 4 years ago from Trichy/Tamil Nadu

      interesting read on different cultures. you have done a great job in this lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I found this an informative and interesting lens.

    • rainykua profile image

      rainykua 5 years ago

      I'm a Chinese living in the Philippines, so I'm familiar with the Filipino and the Chinese culture. I learned that it's important to respect other people's culture even if some of their views may contradict yours. It's interesting to learn different cultures and it makes us a better person.

      LOVE the quotes!:) It seems like you know a lot of cultures!:)

    • Joy Neasley profile image

      Joy Neasley 5 years ago from Nashville, TN

      I really enjoyed reading this lens. I have also lived in several other cultures around the world. Understanding the culture of a person really helps communication. We can say one thing, but they will understand it as something completely different if we are not aware of the cultural aspect of it.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Just stopped by to post this on FaceBook. Its such a beautiful lens. :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      What a wonderful perspective you share of respecting, embracing and enjoying cultures other than our own. You bring a delight to the experience in such a nice way.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      I love learning about and experiencing different cultures.

    • Phillyfreeze profile image

      Ronald Tucker 5 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

      While atending college in New York City in the mid 1970s I was exposed to a variety of cultures from around the world. I can recall my first street fair held in the Chelsea district and the wonderful time that I had sampling the different foods and watching the traditional dances and customs of different nationalities.

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 6 years ago from Colorado

      I lived a fairly sheltered childhood, so my cultural awakening occurred when I had my first opportunity to live in another country (Greece) as an international exchange student. That experience was truly life changing beyond imagination. It made me appreciative of both cultures (Greek culture and American culture). It opened me up in incredibly important ways. Living in large cities, like Chicago and San Antonio, also exposed me to so many different cultures. I love to be immersed in the richness of culture. Thank you for this feature on cultural forces. Appreciated!

    • Tammylove profile image

      Tammylove 6 years ago

      Very Interesting :-)

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      it is always fascinating to learn about other cultures

    • smithlights profile image

      smithlights 6 years ago

      Wowowo! Awesome lens! I love the way you presented it too! Thanks for sharing.

    • KellydeBorda profile image

      KellydeBorda 6 years ago

      Wonderful lens on a fantastic subject - I'm from the US married to a Peruvian and living in Peru - sometimes I think I'll never get used to the culture differences! Blessed by an angel :)

    • profile image

      elsiehui 6 years ago

      the Calgary Stampede Parade shows lots of different cultures in one awesome parade!

    • profile image

      Jerrad28 6 years ago

      Great lens!

    • profile image

      writywrite 6 years ago

      Love your lens, well done..

    • Rod505 LM profile image

      Rod505 LM 6 years ago

      Love the message of your lens. Wonderful!

    • profile image

      celeBritys4africA 6 years ago

      If I was an Angel, I could bless your lens.

    • GramaBarb profile image

      GramaBarb 6 years ago from Vancouver

      This lens is so full of important information that helps each of to be more understanding of each other. Well done. Thanks for adding my Vancouver, BC lens.

    • jackieb99 profile image

      jackieb99 6 years ago

      An very interesting lens, well done!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Excellent lens. Deserves a double like. :) Thank you and have a nice day.

    • jlshernandez profile image

      jlshernandez 6 years ago

      I enjoyed this lens a lot. Where I work,we have Diversity Day when we all celebrate our different cultures and share the food, music and dances. I am sprinkling angel dust your way.

    • sheriangell profile image

      sheriangell 6 years ago

      Yet another fabulous lens from you. It's always such a pleasure to visit one of your lenses. Squid Angel Blessed today.

    • profile image

      GabrielaFargasch 6 years ago

      Beautiful lens on an interesting topic! I laughed at the part when the woman held your hand to cross the street...... :)

    • sorana lm profile image

      sorana lm 6 years ago

      Great topic and beautiful lens.

    • ZenandChic profile image

      Patricia 6 years ago

      Wonderful lens! Blessed!

    • pixelposy profile image

      pixelposy 6 years ago

      I find it so fascinating how the simplest thing like a touch or a look can mean entirely different things depending on the culture. Wonderful topic for a lens.

    • profile image

      moonlitta 6 years ago

      Very good reading- cultural differences are the reason for enormous conflicts even on a political scale. People must learn tolerance to different cultures somewhere in their lives I think.

    • GramaBarb profile image

      GramaBarb 7 years ago from Vancouver

      I learned so much in just a quick read! "look at me when I talk to you!" was common to say to children in our family too.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Really nice lens. So many misunderstandings because of CULTURE!