During National Culture Week we’re encouraging everyone to gain cultural knowledge!
By engaging with other cultures beyond our own we can learn about each other—where people came from, what their traditions are, and what they struggle with as a community.
This engagement also forces us to criticize assumptions held about our own daily life and practices, encouraging incredible personal growth. Maybe you'll even learn something new about your own culture in the process!
There are so many ways you can start learning about other cultures, from asking your friends questions to reading up on various cultural norms online to traveling.
Here is the critical fact: Unless you’re open to differences, your cultural education isn’t going to go very far.
Opening yourself up to global understanding is key when learning about a different culture.
With an open mind and heart, you’ll likely learn the most universal and important message of all: that we’re really not all that different.
Here are some simple tips for gaining cultural knowledge beyond your own:
- Learn the Language - Even if it is just a few phrases or connotations within a shared language.
- Get Festive - Celebrating holidays together brings an understanding of beliefs, customs, and traditions.
- Try New Food - Sampling someone’s cuisine is a way to experience culture and show respect.
- Ask Questions - Many people are hesitant to ask about differences because they think it will seem rude or ignorant but if you come from a place of respectful curiosity, your questions will be welcomed.
- Visit Museums, Cultural Centers, Places of Worship, Markets, and more - These places showcase what is important to a culture so visit, ask questions and be open to the experience.
- Listen to Music - Music tells a culture’s story.
Extend this courtesy, and expect it back when you share about your culture.
For fun, let’s have a look at some cultural lessons and etiquette around the world:
- In the Middle East, do not shake with your left hand.
- In Ghana, if you invite, you pay.
- In France, don’t bring wine to a party.
- In Italy, don’t drink cappuccino after a meal.
- In Venezuela, show up late.
- In Germany, show up right on time.
- In Japan, don’t fill your own glass.
- In Arab cultures, do not show the sole of your shoe.
- In Great Britain, don’t spit on the street.
- In Japan, slurp your noodles.
- In Russia, only shake hands once you have entered the room.
- In Chile, always use a fork and knife, never your hands.
- In Korea, receive a drink from an elder with both hands and turn your head away as you sip.
- In West Africa, don't give a “thumbs up”.
- In the Far East, belch to compliment the chef.
- In Greece, don’t show your palm, even when waving.
- In Singapore, do not chew gum.
Please share your cultural knowledge with us during National Culture Week (April 19th - April 23rd).
BONUS: Registered middle school and high schools can participate in the live-stream event, be recognized on our website, help foster communication and exchange of ideas, and play a crucial part in building a stronger understanding of the challenges faced by the youth of diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Register here.