First of all, what is culture? Culture is the everyday life a specific group/society. Culture includes what people wear, eat, what they believe in, who they worship, etiquette, greetings, language, where they live, celebrations, customs, education, family, and so much more. The United States of America is full of diversity, or different cultures. So, why is it important to learn about other cultures if there are so many different cultures here where we live?
It is important to study other cultures for many reasons. It’s important because it teaches you to be accepting of others, you won’t be afraid of people who are different, you’ll learn a lot, and you won’t look unintelligent.
When you study other cultures you’ll be accepting of the people from those cultures. For example in the video ‘The Lost Boys of Sudan’ people were not accepting of those boys coming into their country. They didn’t really say anything mean to them, and that’s just the point. The boys were confused on why people didn’t help others in the US. Back in their country, everyone was willing to help anybody. Shop owners were intimidated by the boys. The boys were coming into the store in large groups, therefore the shop owners thought that the boys were there to steal or do some damage. Now, if those people had taken the time to learn about the boys or say, ‘Hey, do you guys need help?’ or even just if they just started a conversation the boys probably would’ve felt way more welcome. The boys traveled together, in large groups. They were the only people they knew and felt comfortable with. When somebody reported them they lost their only ‘safe place’ they had. It was like the boys were ‘too different’ for the people they passed by. Learning about other cultures gives you the opportunity to accept people for who they are, not judge them. If the whole world believed the same thing, talked the same way, ate the same things, it would be pretty boring. Asking someone to change is hard, so why don’t we just accept who they are.
When learning about other cultures, you reduce the risk of xenophobia. According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, xenophobia is: Dislike or prejudice towards people from other countries. When you have xenophobia, your hatred clouds out what you could like about those countries. Take John Dutcher for example. John was known as ‘The Man Who Hated Muslims’ after the 9/11 terrorist attack. After the attack, John got new neighbors in his building. The family was muslim. Immediately John felt hatred towards these people. He was xenophobic of the muslim culture. After John got to know this family a little bit more, he started to care for them.
Xenophobia can also lead to other things. Things like cultural superiority. According to the chapter Cultural Superiority, cultural superiority is when you think that your culture is better, or more superior to other cultures. Examples of cultural superiority is the Holocaust, slavery, the Jamestown colonists and the Native Americans. Those are only a few examples of cultural superiority throughout history. Xenophobia and cultural superiority are both equally bad. They mess with how you see the world. If you walk around thinking that your better than everyone else your whole life, you’re not going to get anywhere. Hating everyone in a culture because of what a few people of that culture did, is just so unfair.
Another reason we should study culture is because you’ll learn a lot. Do you remember doing a project on a country when you were in school? Do you remember being in awe of all the cool and unique things that that country has to offer? When you take the time to learn about other countries, that's how it could feel. You could learn a lot. There are 195 countries in the world and chances are you barely know about 4. You could extend your horizons of knowledge while learning about other countries.
At last, when you learn about other people’s countries you won’t look unintelligent. Let’s say your going on a trip to Japan. You don’t do any research on the country. You get there and do something that is rude like making intense eye-contact. You look like a fool and greatly disrespected that person. If you would’ve taken 10 minutes to learn at least a little bit about that country you wouldn’t’ve looked stupid. In most jobs you will encounter someone that is from a different country whether you want to or not. Most people around the world know a little bit about the USA, so shouldn’t we return the favor and learn a little about theirs?
As you can see, learning about other cultures has many positive benefits. When you learn about other cultures you learn to accept not judge, you won’t be xenophobic, you won’t think that certain cultures are better than others, and you will look smart. Learning about other cultures is something that will benefit you your entire life whether it’s at a job, on a trip, or even just in your community.