“Perhaps one of the greatest means to achieve global peace and harmony is cultural exchange. It opens up the vistas of human understanding and further expands our universal consciousness. Let us raise ourselves from the narrow perspective of being a citizen of a particular country to global citizenship that is the greatest demand of [the] modern world.”
― Preeth Nambiar, The Voyage to Eternity
Have you heard about cultural exchange? Perhaps you were part of an exchange student program in college, or you had a friend who went to another country to study for a semester. Here at the ZLA foundation, we’re always looking for new topics to cover that can help you in your leadership and cultural journey. Today, we’ll take a look at what cultural exchange is and why it matters.
What Is Cultural Exchange?
Cultural exchange is basically a fancy way to say that different countries are swapping cultural experiences for some of their citizens. This is all in hopes that these stories will be shared, allowing a deeper understanding of the cultures that surround us all.
Some methods include swapping exchange students during undergraduate or master’s programs. Other programs allow even younger individuals to swap countries for high school. Depending on the area’s ability to host people, the circumstances may vary.
Why Is Cultural Exchange Important?
Natural cultural exchange does occur; however, it happens at a much slower rate than intentional exchange. When two nations collaborate and facilitate their citizens being a part of the other country’s community for weeks or months, there’s a more intentional, lasting bond that forms. Here are a few reasons why cultural exchange is healthy and recommended to create understanding and friendships between two different countries.
It’s a Great Learning Experience for the Exchange Students
Not only are cultural exchange programs a great way to bring two nations closer together but they’re also a great way to open the eyes of the students themselves. These programs can be beneficial for teaching new languages, too!
It Reminds Us That Diversity Is Beautiful!
In a big country like America, it can be easy to forget that other countries aren’t like ours. We might have a melting pot of people and cultures, but that means that it’s very hard to do justice to and celebrate all of them. When cultural exchange happens, it’s a very concentrated way to swap stories with and celebrate other cultures, bringing home those experiences to help us view our own country with those same eyes of wonder and respect.
Leadership in Cultural Exchange
Do you want to facilitate cultural exchange in your neighborhood? If you’re excited about this idea and are looking for a way to host an exchange student, see if there is a local program you can get involved in! Cultural exchange is a critical part of bringing our large world closer together; by joining together and sharing cultural experiences, we can show the world how similar we actually are.