The world is full of many different cultures, and each world culture has its own unique attributes. By exploring the world (even if you can’t afford a Round-the-World plane ticket), you can learn about different people and cultures – and become an intercultural person yourself. Here are 10 ways to explore the world without leaving home…
1. Music – sing songs from other countries, listen to music from around the world. Youtube is wonderful for this!
2. Movies – movies are a glimpse into other cultures. Explore Bollywood musicals, Studio Ghibli’s movies (a mix of Japan and Old Europe), cooking videos, and of course blockbusters from around the world.
3. Books – Read books from other countries – written by authors *from* those countries. It will open your eyes!
4. Friends – have a diverse group of friends, online or off. Make penpals online from around the world. Host visitors with couchsurfing or other homestay opportunities.
5. Language – learn as many languages as you can. Enlist one of your new online penpals for this, or find resources (books, mp3s, etc.) that can teach you.
6. Learning – strew culture throughout your house. Decorate with items from around the world. Create an environment that celebrates difference, cultures, peole. Immerse yourself in learning about other cultures. Give gifts of books and hand-crafted items from global artisans.
7. Food – my personal favorite. Find international cookbooks, or search online for new global recipes (here’s a great site for international foods, http://recipes.wuzzle.org). Ask your neighbors what their grandmothers made, or what their favorite recipes are from their travels. Cook food from around the world – try different ingredients and dishes. Visit ethnic grocery stores and stock up – don’t be afraid to ask about ingredients or food!
8. Art – expose yourself to art of the world, as well as the history behind the art. African sculpture, European classics, Asian paintings – they are all so very different from each other. Shop for hand-crafted items from artisans globally. Learn different ways to create art. Visit art museums whenever you travel, as well as visiting local markets. Street art is just as powerful as the stuff hanging on the walls inside museums!
9. Travel – whether in real life or online, get out there and see the world! Read blogs in different languages. Find travel photo sites and see the beauty of the world. Change your ideas of what traveling means – maybe not the tourist traps, but getting off the beaten path; or exploring blogs that share a corner of the world. Learn more about YOUR corner of the world – maybe create a blog that celebrates where you live. You can learn from all of your own global visitors.
10. Open-mindedness. Becoming an intercultural person means, in part, that you not only accept difference, but you embrace it. Learn about cultures, and practice ethnorelativism. Learn strategies to deal with and learn about difference. Celebrate the joy of diversity!
By becoming an intercultural person, you are giving yourself (and the world) a great gift – that of peace, understanding, and being able to cope and live anywhere. Do you have tips for exploring the world without leaving home? Please share!
Dr. Jessie Voigts is the publisher of http://www.WanderingEducators.com, a travel site for global educators.
[Image courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/graphistolage/3654798218/]