To gain a deeper understanding of how foreign cultures can enhance one’s outlook on life, we asked four individuals to share their personal experiences. From seeing our shared humanity to finding respect in diversity, here are their enlightening insights.
Shared Humanity: A Tapestry of Experiences
In my book, The World We Know, I delve into the transformative power of experiencing foreign cultures. One personal anecdote recounts my trip to a remote village in India. There, amidst language barriers and contrasting backgrounds, I unearthed a profound realization about our shared humanity, helping me rediscover my own childhood poverty story. Despite our disparities, our lives are all interconnected, akin to the intricate threads of a woven tapestry.
- Sheryle Gillihan, Co- Owner, CauseLabs
Cultural Immersion: A Catalyst for Sustainable Tourism
Traveling for business to other cultures has changed my life. Every contact with foreigners has brought new ideas and strange lessons. In today’s tourism industry, accepting various cultures makes vacationers feel global. Each meeting with people from different backgrounds has promoted shared humanity. The travel industry relies on collaboration and cultural sensitivity. Cultures’ eco-friendly practices can motivate tourism companies to consider their impact on people and the environment. After experiencing community-based tourism in Costa Rica and traditional farming in Bali, I’m more determined than ever to promote environmentally beneficial travel practices. Cultural connections have helped the travel business show how people can connect, grow, and be flexible all across the world. I’ve become more open-minded and appreciated the diversity that keeps the travel industry alive by immersing myself in other cultures. Every vacation is a chance to learn and improve.
- Aiden Higgins, Senior Editor and Writer, The Broke Backpacker
Inner Strength: Found in Foreign Cultures
Experiencing foreign cultures has shaped who I am today. I met my wife, Yanling, while traveling in China and got to know the culture in her local area. I’ve also had the chance to visit my brother recently, who lives in Vietnam with his family. These experiences gave me a lot of inner strength when dealing with difficult times in my life back in Canada. I always remember how happy people are around the world who don’t have nearly the same living standards we often take for granted here. Having strong familial bonds and a sense of community do so much more for your well-being than getting that new car or getting a promotion at work. Deep down, we all know these things to be true, but when you experience foreign cultures, the memories stay with you, and suddenly, half the things you used to care about aren’t quite as valuable as they once were.
- Scott Sidders, Co-Founder, Scott & Yanling Media Inc.
Respecting Diversity: Lessons from Moroccan Poverty
Over the last few years, I’ve had the privilege of traveling throughout Europe: Spain, the UK, Italy, the Czech Republic, and France. This past summer, I ventured to Morocco. In the smaller towns, I witnessed real poverty, which made me reflect on the seemingly insignificant problems that occupy our thoughts in more affluent parts of the world. Western societies often focus on concerns like reducing gas emissions and promoting gender equality, without fully appreciating the broader challenges faced by less privileged communities. You can’t expect people who struggle to afford basic necessities, like shoes or even water, to prioritize environmental concerns or educational equality. We must understand and respect the unique circumstances of each culture and nation. Global issues are important, but we must recognize that people have more urgent things to care about in other parts of the world. It’s about respecting the diversity of perspectives and priorities.
- Daniel Espada, Adventurer and Engineer, Geardventure