Diversity within Cultures

by Vjosa Morina, Our Future Europe 2014 participant from Pristina

What is culture? What do we know about our culture? What does our culture say to others about us?
Vjosa Morina_Photo3 – group photo
Well, I do not have the right answers. People all around the world would have different answers. The beauty of it stands within the diversity of these answers. All our life we spend by facing different situations, by traveling to different places, by having the chance to know people from different backgrounds and all these experiences help us grow as individuals. Sometimes, being in a same country, living the same way for a long time, people tend to forget an important element..Tolerance. Tolerance for accepting there is a whole different world out there from which they are living, there are whole different ways to deal with things from the ways we are used to. Culture says a lot about us and the way we accept other cultures.There are a lot of definitions about culture. The one I would think as most understandable is: “A culture is a way of life of a group of people — the behaviors, beliefs, values, and symbols that they accept, generally without thinking about them, and that are passed along by communication and imitation from one generation to the next” [1].
Culture helps us predefine the paradigm through which we see and make sense of the world around us.

In a speech from  Dato Gogichaishvili, lecturer of Cross-Cultural Management and Global Business Negotiations, he points out that: “What I know is that those kind of culture differences create animosity. We tend to hate other people who behave differently from us and that’s true not only in terms of cross-cultural context but also within the same culture, we tend to hate other people who are different”.

Confucius said that “All people are the same; it’s only their habits that are different”. There is no doubt we are different. In the first place our languages are different, our symbols are different, our traditional music and food are different. But as many researchers have noted, in which I would agree, is that most of the human values are the same, is just the ways we express them are different. Even people coming from one country can be different, but a lot of people have stereotypes when it comes to citizens of one state, they believe that a culture of people is defined by borders of their state. That is where the joke about “Heaven and Hell” comes from. It goes like this: “Heaven is where: the French are the chefs, the Italians are the lovers, the British are the police, the Germans are the mechanics and it is all organized by the Swiss. Hell is where: the British are the chefs, the Swiss are the Lovers, the German are the police, the French are the mechanics and it is all organized by the Italians.”

These days, people all the time break these stereotypes by traveling and meeting new cultures. They find that even the means of communication, beside languages, are defined by the culture of people. Most of them would describe their experiences as a culture shock but slowly would understand other’s perspective as it would be the same for the others to meet their own culture and way of behavior.

Thinking about all these differences and all the efforts we take about finding all the things we have in common with other people I think about a phrase that is a part of a speech of a very old movie, that says: “We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness — not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way.”  And I agree that this world has room for everyone, and we have not lost our way, but all the time we are improving in the matter that we are very happy to know and make new friends from different cultures because that opens new doors for us towards understanding new different worlds, within one same world that we all live in.

[1] http://www.tamu.edu/faculty/choudhury/culture.html

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