“Culture, the acquainting ourselves with the best that has been known and said in the world, and thus with the history of the human spirit.” Mathew Arnold (1822-1888)
Learning about another’s culture allows us to learn about the people of the world and in the process, we gain valuable knowledge about ourselves. Culture affects every aspect of our lives: from the way we raise our children, how we treat one another, the foods we eat, the language we speak, the way we think, to the celebrations we enjoy.
We are fortunate to have so many easy and inexpensive opportunities available to us every day. Here are 10 easy ways you can get started today:
- Visit local museums and cultural centers. Many times they have exhibits that correspond with a specific geographical area or an artist from a certain country. You can learn a lot about a people’s culture, by the type of artwork that is created in that region.
- Visit the library. Libraries have a plethora of travel books and journals to read through. Many have elaborate pictures of the country and its people. You can almost imagine yourself there by flipping through these books.
- Explore the Internet. If you want an endless supply of information about other countries, just tap into the internet. You can read newspapers, local websites, blogs and forums from other countries. This is also great practice if you’re learning the language of that country.
- Go to a Local Cultural Event. We are so privileged to have hundreds of different cultures right here in the U.S. In any given month, you can find a local cultural event in many cities across the country. Get out and enjoy the food, music, people and customs of that culture.
- Get an Email Pal. There are many sites on line that will help you find an email pal to converse with about the community in which they live. You can compare and contrast with your own experiences. This is another fun way to practice a new language, as well.
- Volunteer to Help English Language Learners. Learning English is essential to improving an immigrant’s life, here in America. You can help someone practice their English, while learning more about their native language and culture.
- Take a Class. Local schools and community colleges offer inexpensive adult classes at convenient times. You could take a foreign language class, a French cooking class or a Spanish dance class. What could be more fun than learning a new skill and meeting new people, while experiencing a new culture?
- Make a Friend from Another Culture. Many of us have neighbors or co-workers who are from other countries. Invite someone to share a typical American holiday or celebration with you and your family. Then, attend one of theirs. Maybe you’ll have the opportunity to go to a Quinceañera (an elaborate birthday party for a 15 year old Latina) or a Diwali (a Hindu festival of lights).
- Go to an Ethnic Restaurant or Grocery Store. Eat good food and enjoy a new culture! Many ethnic restaurants and grocery stores hire people who are natives from the country where the type of food they offer originates. Start up a conversation with them about the food and their native country. Don’t be shy; everyone likes to talk about themselves.
- Travel to Another Country. You can find inexpensive all-inclusive trips to many popular destinations. You could also volunteer or attend classes in a foreign country. While you’re there, make sure to find out where the locals go, not just the tourists. Talk to natives and ask them about their culture and their country. Who knows, you might just make a friend you can correspond with, when you return.
Now, you can start learning about another culture today! There are so many easy and affordable opportunities awaiting you. Remember, the more we learn about the world and its people, the more we learn about ourselves. Enjoy the journey!