The 21 May, one of the most important days for the world, passed us by without fanfare. Any guesses as to what was on 21 May?
It was The World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, a United Nations–sanctioned international holiday for the promotion of diversity issues. The United nations General Assembly proclaimed this holiday due to UNESCO’s Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity on November 2001.
Adopted in the wake of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, “Diversity Day”, officially known as "The World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development," is an opportunity to help communities understand the value of cultural diversity and learn how to live together in harmony.
So how does this affect me, you ask. It affects you plenty, particularly if you enjoy traveling the world, as I do. Understanding cultural diversity means being culturally correct in your travels, whether for business or for pleasure. And here are the direct benefits to you:
Being Culturally Correct during personal travels means respecting local customs and blending in with the locals more. The advantages to you are:
1) You will stand out less and get ripped off less. 2) Standing out less means better personal safety. 3) You will travel with more confidence and ease. 4) You will enjoy a more authentic travel experience. 5) You will gain a greater knowledge of the world that you live in and acquire a greater empathy for fellow human beings everywhere.
Being Culturally Correct during business travels also means respecting local customs and blending in with the locals more. The advantages to you are:
1) You will be viewed less as a foreigner and more as a potential long-lasting business partner. 2) You will gain your host company's trust. 3) You have a better chance of closing that business deal. 4) You gain a better chance of increased business in the future. 5) Overseas business success means a greater career prospects within your own company.
So you want to know the best way to be “culturally correct” when visiting a foreign country?
1) Always dress appropriately for the country. 2) Respect and adhere to local customs. 3) Research the culture, religion and etiquette of your host country before making the trip. 4) Study the locals when you arrive and mimic them. 5) Be aware of local laws and adhere to them. 6) Learn key phrases in the local language.
Not traveling? No problem. You can still raise cultural awareness from home. Here are a few ideas:
1) Have a "cultural diversity day" at school, at home with friends, or at the office where each one brings a dish from their own culture and wear something that represents ones culture. 2) Watch a foreign film. 3) Go to a restaurant from a different culture every month (my parents used to do this with us when we were little and lived in Manila). 4) Attend cultural festivals in your city. e.g. Darling Harbour Cultural Festivals http://www.darlingharbour.com/sydney-Things_To_Do-Annual_Cultural_Festivals.htm 5)Have a cultural day at the office e.g. one month India, another month Spain. Everyone researches that country and brings something to share about it (cuisine is the most obvious, also learning a few key phrases in the language).
In a nutshell, "Culture" is not the product of lone individuals. Rather, it’s been a powerful human tool for survival since time immemorial. Through the ages, it has enabled communities to teach their young what they have learned in order to survive in their own environment. While sticking to the people of our own culture gives us a sense of security, we are traveling the world and coming into contact with other cultures in greater numbers and with greater frequency. Understanding and embracing the world’s diversity through self-education will inevitably lead to appreciation and harmony.