This I Believe

Michelle - Bowling Green, Ohio
Entered on September 5, 2007

Is there a way for racist, or judgmental people to become more accepting and caring for other cultures? I believe there is. Traveling to foreign countries to learn their way of life, customs, and experience their culture, all broaden the mind, and would make people much more accepting if they only knew how similar everyone really is.

Through experience, I know that most Americans are too sheltered from the cultures of foreign countries. I recently traveled to Austria and Germany with a group of friends for my German class. Although I took the class learning about the German and Austrian cultures, I was still in shock when I arrived there. The Germans could obviously tell whether you were from America or not, because anyone else that would be visiting, knows what to expect because most likely they’ve been there before. But American’s just act dumbfounded when they come upon something different. When many Americans go out of the country for the first time, they hardly know what to expect. Because the United States is such a large country compared to the several, much smaller, neighboring European countries, Americans do not get the opportunity to see and experience different cultures the way Europeans do.

One way to become accustomed to different cultures, and learn to accept them, is to learn a new language. When you learn the language, you will also learn about their culture and way of life. Taking a foreign language class will broaden your mind to learn new things about people across the world, and help you be more accepting of different cultures. Besides learning important and interesting facts about another culture, and a new language, it’s admirable to be able to speak more than one language.

Although learning about different cultures, and their languages is very mind-opening, the best way to experience different cultures, is first hand. When traveling to a foreign country, you encounter different customs and ways of life that make it an unforgettable journey that is unlike any other. It is truly a once in a lifetime experience. Different cultures and customs will most likely shock you, but you will also learn that at the same time, you are very similar. Experiencing this will also teach you to be courteous and accepting of other cultures.

Those who are raised around people that are the same as them, become judgmental of others who are different. These critical people should realize that people who are raised another way, could think that YOU are the one who is different. When I traveled to Austria, we as tourists thought that the Austrians were very different, but the Austrian natives could easily tell who were American tourists just because they were different. It goes both ways; you might think they are very different and possibly weird, but at the same time, they could also be thinking the same thing, and who’s to blame them? If you decide to judge one person or culture just because they are a little different from you, who are you to tell them they can not judge you? We all just need to realize that everyone is different, and learn to accept it.

Learning the new and different customs and ways of different cultures is imperative for people to be accepting of other ethnicities. I believe that the best way to be caring, and informed about the world’s cultures, is to travel and experience them for yourself. If more people cared about learning new cultures, and went out and discovered the differences on their own, our world would be so much more accepting and essentially a better place to live.