By Fatihah Zaini
Ever since I have learned to understand about life, I began to recognise the significance of cultural diversity. Be it in Malaysia, Germany, Japan, Singapore or in South Korea. In most instances, cultural diversity struck me whenever I travel abroad. However, there are certain things that we are not aware, especially when we think that our culture is better than others. Culture, in a simple term, is beautiful. It does not matter if your culture teaches you to bow to older people, or to speak with loud voices or to even cross your legs while eating.
Every nook and corner of this world has its own uniqueness whereby life itself will take its inhabitants to another wonderful journey. Nevertheless, this ‘journey’ might be impossible if we do not realise how important to learn about other cultures.
First of all, let’s take it from my own experience when I was on a trip to Japan to visit my brother. Without any knowledge of how Japanese live, it was hard for me to get things done each day. The Japanese society is well-organised and errors are often minimised.
Imagine living in a world where everything seems peculiar to our eyes. In other words, learning other culture is one way to understand how the universe works. If we are one of those where going places is necessary, then making an effort to read about people living in these places is obligatory.
It could also reduce xenophobia, where one feels hatred or fear towards foreigners, simply because one does not enquire the knowledge of other cultures. This type of ‘disease’ could easily set out the feelings of isolation and separation.
Next, if we were to ask people what are their favourite pastimes, some of them would probably say eating. Eating means a variation of food must be their go-to meal. We know that our country has limited variety of food, thus the idea of studying other cultures may open up to a new list of daily food. From here, cultural influence brings about its importance as to how eating is in our life.
If we go on a stroll in the malls, we might be exposed to restaurants selling international foods such as Korean, Japanese, Western, and even Thai. How is that so? People are beginning to accept the reality that without cultures, there will be no progress in their country. Moreover, eating the same food everyday, would bore us to death, therefore, it is not against the law to consume food that contradicts our natural health.
Interestingly, every culture has its own way of communicating with people. For example, in Asian cultures, they do not use direct eye contact whereas Americans prefer to look into their partner’s eyes while communicating. They think that it is good to do this to show confidence and respect. But, does taking into account regarding this issue matter? It is the picture line between cultures that could lead to misunderstandings if we do not have the slightest bit of conscience to learn about other cultures.
Note that, not everyone could interpret others’ non-verbal language, especially when it comes to dealing with business matters. The ‘bourgeoisie’ class usually sees each other to close a business deal but what happen when a handshake is returned by a bow?
Of course, through learning we could see the world through another person’s eyes. We may even invoke an experience where we manage to change our perception, understand someone’s existence, and help them for the betterment. Sometimes putting ourselves in another person’s shoes can open up our mind and heart to a new walk of life.
We might not understand, however, that the first thing that crosses our mind when we see refugees or immigrants is that they only came to create chaos. Despite the harsh treatment they received, the reality hits us when we finally realise that their culture is different from ours.
In spite of that, there are still some people out there who are concerned about learning other cultures. Although it seems impossible to make it an actuality, sincerely, no effort would go to waste if we try to accommodate other people’s culture. ***