My wife and I just had a wonderful evening with one of my former coworkers and his family. They moved here from their home near Mumbai, India nearly a year ago. For the last couple of months we’ve been planning on getting together with this kind family hosting us. Our earlier scheduled evening had to be postponed because of my wife’s illness that weekend. Fortunately, we were able to spend tonight with them.
If travel is the best education, spending time with others who have lived or spent most of their lives in very different cultures than your own has to be a close second.
The meal was delicious, authentic Indian cuisine. I love spicy things, and the meal was generous in that regard as well as in the quantity served with my friend’s wife bringing more each time we’d get low in supply. I finally had to stop without finishing all before me. Several hours later I’m still stuffed.
Besides the meal and learning more about Indian food than I knew before, I really appreciated hearing more about the customs of the culture my friend and his family grew up in. It is so easy to think that all the world is like your little corner or that it should be. So much of what we experience in life, though, and what shapes us is attributable to culture more than anything else.
We have much to learn from other cultures. It would be great to learn by going to those places and spending time there, but that isn’t always possible or practical. So do the next best thing and befriend someone from a very different background and culture. Spend time with them. Ask a lot of questions so that you better understand them and are less likely to jump to incorrect assumptions and conclusions that stem from your own lack of knowledge.
You may just find that you simultaneously expanded your world while making it a little smaller.
Leap year lesson #56 is We have much to learn from other cultures.