Don't Forget To Pack Your Cultural Sensitivity

Don't Forget To Pack Your Cultural Sensitivity

Try to keep an open mind.

You're in a new country, with a brand new culture, group of people, and way of life. What are you doing? How are you acting?

Cultural sensitivity is being aware that differences and similarities exist among cultures and people, without assigning them a value - better or less, right or wrong. The act of cultural sensitivity allows you to learn about and understand people whose cultural background differs from yours.

Cultural sensitivity is a highly important trait to uphold in your day to day life, but it is especially important for those of you who are studying abroad.

It is easy to become stuck in the bubble that is the United States, but don't let this limit your mind to thinking one type of culture is more superior than the other. My biggest pet peeve is when people venture abroad, to only seek the comfortability of food and culture they had back home.

It is OK to miss people and certain types of food, but once your entire experience begins to revolve around nitpicking differences between cultures; that is where you begin to let the entire experience run past you.

You are choosing to study abroad to immerse yourself in a brand new culture of people. Differing values, political views, food, and ways of dress exist. It is important to familiarize yourself with such differences before you embark on your journey. Once you are there, soak in every opportunity to have fun, but remember you are a guest of whatever country in which you are studying.

To be closed minded to the disparities between values and acceptable attitudes in different regions is staying ignorant.

Do not sneer at someone else’s food. It may seem odd and outlandish to you, but it is very normal to the people there. Remember your manners. If you don’t try you will never know.

Be aware of your actions in public. You are representing your school and the entire country in which you are from. Your ignorance towards your surroundings may make you a target for pick-pocketers.

To be actively cautious of the different lives people live, and the different traits they view as rude is difficult, but to not even try to learn and embrace the culture of people you are living with is obscene.

With the world becoming more intertwined than ever before, we as a growing generation must educate ourselves on the various forms of life and culture of people around the world. Once we begin to learn to accept differences and find similarities within common humanity, we will be growing a more sensible generation.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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A Country, Divided

Hate will only fuel hate

With the latest school shootings, election investigations, and the Time's Up and #MeToo movements flooding social media and the news outlets, it's almost impossible to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The people of our country are divided over personal beliefs, as usual, but have now insisted on using social media to belittle each other. While this is not new, each day I find new things people are complaining about on Facebook, especially the gun laws and problems with the NRA. While strict gun laws mean nothing to a country full of hatred, promoting and fighting for your rights with a heart full of hate will not make anything better for us.

It's one thing to support gun rights, but it's another to attack someone for wanting something different. All you have is an opinion. What you have to say is not fact, and it doesn't matter how many stats you find on the NRA's website to prove your point. Attacking students who watched their classmates die in front of them does not make you a great citizen because you're "protecting your rights." You sound like a jerk fighting with a 14 year old who is grieving.

I'm not writing this as a call to action, or to voice my opinion, because my opinions don't matter. In our country today, it seems like the only opinions that matter are those who are the rich, or those who are in support with our government. Anyone who goes against them are deemed liars and "wrong."

I'm glad that those who have wronged women are being punished. I'm glad that kids are finding their voices and are refusing to be silent. But if you fight with a CHILD, and tell them that their opinion doesn't matter, who ever told you yours did? Who made you feel like you were above everyone else because you support a big corporation, or a big government power? Hate to break it to you, but that's what they want. You're a dollar sign.

So the next time you log onto Facebook, Twitter, or whatever, think before you write a hateful post to your "friend" because you don't agree. Think before you yell at a child you've never met for using their freedom of speech and freedom to act, the same right that you're fighting for. Just because you're on opposing sides, doesn't mean you have to hate each other. Violence equals violence, and as of right now, I see no end.

Cover Image Credit: Sherry Boas

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Are Adults Using Children To Further Their Political Agenda?

They're smarter than kids, and it shows.

Since the national student walkout on March 14, there has been an increased sense of "pride" in the children of the United States.

Adults and politicians praise students for standing up for what they believe, even though these same children are too young to vote for those exact things that they believe in. Rolling Stone wrote an article that criticizes adult Americans for doing nothing since the Parkland mass shooting that killed 17. Articles like these are more than common lately - children are being worshipped while adults take the full blame for gun violence and the lack of change.

I, however, want to offer a new perspective. Columnist Megan McArdle wrote an opinion post titled "The student walkout said more about adults than kids," and it challenged me to think out of the box and offer a new opinion regarding this upcoming generation of students. (Give her article a read because it's really thought-provoking!)

When the walkout took place, not everyone participated. There were schools that fully supported it, but many threatened to punish students for leaving class. My sister's high school didn't organize a walkout, but many students still decided to participate on their own. The media, of course, highlighted the schools that had hundreds of students marching on school property, waving signs and chanting for change.

More importantly, the walkout symbolized a new era of student's voice. Never before had so many underage children stood up for what they believed in. But was it really what they wanted? Had every single one of the thousands of students nationwide been educated on gun usage, firearm statistics, and the actual definition of a mass shooting? Or had their parents, teachers, and the media just told them what to believe?

If children started protesting against the drinking age, how would the adults respond? They'd probably disagree and put down the protests. It would make media headlines for a day or two and then dissolve into nothing. What if 12-year-olds demanded the right to drive cars? Ridiculous, the adults would say. Children's opinions rarely matter because their knowledge and experience are weak compared to that of their superiors.

BUT, when a child stands up for something that the adults are also passionate about, all of sudden, that child is "wise beyond years" and "more mature than most." It would seem, then, that the adults are the ones shaping children and controlling what they support.

This isn't a new concept, of course. Adults are smarter than children, in my opinion, and you'd be dumb to argue against that. And yet, people are basically worshipping the walkout students for organizing such a huge event on their own, except it wasn't on their own. The entire walkout depended on the support and aid of adult teachers, parents, and organizations. Adults spread the word of the event via Facebook, Twitter, news outlets, and text messages. Adults provided security at the schools during the walkouts. Adults showed up to video the event and provide news coverage. Without adults, the walkout on March 14 would have been nothing. It wouldn't have happened.

This wouldn't even be a problem if people weren't blaming adults for being retroactive in regards to gun control. But they are. Liberals are saying that children are more grown-up than most adults, simply because they decided to skip school for 17 minutes. Yes, there are certainly children who really do want gun control, but I have a bad feeling that the majority of them participated in the walkout because they felt pressured by their parents, teachers, and peers. The adults were in full control; the students were just puppets.

If we're going to let kids walk out of the classroom, lose quality learning time, and march for what they're "passionate" about, we better be prepared for it to happen again with issues that are more childish.

Imagine if these same kids organized a walkout to protest the length of the American school day - would they be so smart and mature then?

On a side note, the walkout is going to do nothing politically. The adults have government control, and they'll do what they want. Stay in school, kids, because your opinion does not have an influence, no matter how much mom and dad says it does.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia

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