This I Believe

Alexandra - Bay Village, Ohio
Entered on November 29, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

What Makes Me Whole

Trying to understand world cultures without experiencing them is like trying to look at a picture of the Grand Canyon and never actually going there. I believe in experiencing the cultures of other people.

My family believes in culture. When my father was a young boy, he lived in London and traveled to the surrounding countries. Then, when he was older he traveled extensively to Japan for business. My father and also my grandmother fully support my beliefs about culture. Since my grandmother lived in London, she has spent each afternoon around four having her “tea time” with anyone who wants to join her. One the note of food, I don’t have a traditional Thanksgiving feast. Instead, every year my family picks a country and we create an experience. We try to become that culture, if only for one night. I have tasted the sushi of Japan, had an authentic Hawaiian barbeque, and even made pasta by hand to taste the Italian recipes of my great-grandmother. Of course, it’s still is a traditional feast, it’s just not American. In a way, my family lives and breathes culture everyday.

I love art history, and probably know way too much about it, but I find myself coming back to all that I have learned. I can’t escape it, but then again – I don’t want to. To some art history may seem boring – who would want to study the Mona Lisa or the ruins of Ancient Greece? But that isn’t what art history is about, not the history and not even the art. It is about the culture of all civilizations past, and of all of those cultures that aren’t mine. I believe that until I truly experience those cultures that I will never know them. To experience them I believe that I need to travel and experience the world, my world. The world can seem like a very big place, but when I travel, I can live and breathe culture. I believe that with cultural knowledge I can remove my ignorance and eliminate my cultural bias. Sure, regions, cultures and beliefs divide people but we aren’t so different. All humans, well most anyway, love and care for others and have a moral conscience. And although any group of people can disagree on one issue or another, this should not prevent acceptance.

As I sit here in Ohio, I wait, I yearn for the day that I will have the freedom and resources to travel and experience the world. To see the Great Wall of China, the Eiffel Tower, lush jungles and desert sands. I believe that I will never be whole unless I see these things. The world changes every second, a tree takes its last breath, tides turn and the ice melts, and I don’t want to waste that precious time. I won’t stop believing in cultures. Because although they say knowledge is truth, I believe that culture is knowledge.