Clash of Culture: Are we Learning?

The cultures in our world are being forced together. It is an inevitable outcome of advanced communications technology. Take, for example, you. You – and everyone else reading this blog – are connected to the internet: the great invention that brings knowledge to the masses, and allows anyone and everyone to ‘connect’.

However, this isn’t entirely true. The student bible tells me that 61% of the 7.1 billion people populating our world don’t use the internet – that’s over 4 billion people. Which is a lot, quite frankly. And even with less than half of us on the internet, we still can’t handle it.

My observation is that when cultures are thrown together they, well, clash. Growing up in New Zealand, I’ve been able to observe this cultural clash first-hand. Auckland, my hometown (though I was born in Kanpur, India) lends itself well to the observation of cultural intermingling.

At first, migrants would watch, learn, and become a part of the existing culture of Auckland. We would keep the traditions and values we believed in, but also make an effort to learn the culture of New Zealand. After all, why would we move here if we did not value New Zealand’s society? It would have been an unwise choice, and our happiness would be better served elsewhere.

I’ve noticed this is no longer the case. People are moving here, often for the purpose of learning English, or for the safety and security their own countries do not offer. I say ‘their own countries’ because migrants tend to identify still with their previous culture; they are Indians who just happen to be living in New Zealand, rather than new citizens with an Indian heritage.

This creates pockets – not to say it hasn’t always existed, but not with this level of separatism. Perhaps, like the UK or the States (correct me if I’m wrong, readers from those countries), it is due to a growing population, and the want to mingle only with one’s own kind.

My disappointment lies in my own view of globalism. For me, it is an amazing opportunity – we can learn about, and learn from, people of other cultures, with fresh and exciting new perspectives. But it seems like it’s become a superficial interaction. We meet others, admire their culture, ooh and ahh at their rituals and art; hear their innovations – then go home and do nothing about it. Where is the learning?

Learning has always been a motivator for me. Stephen Knightly, a game designer, discusses the nature of fun in his EdTalk on game-based learning. He comes to the conclusion that we have fun when we are learning; we desire achieveable challenge. New ideas and perspectives challenge my own world-view and methods, and (usually after much contemplation) I will begin to implement elements I believe are better than the ones I currently hold.

But this post is not a lecture; it is a call for learning. My desire is that we all continue to become a better version of ourselves than we were yesterday. We cannot do this by doing the same thing, that much is obvious, so my challenge (to you and to myself), is to truly take the time and energy to listen to others’ point of views, and consider their way of life. You may discover one small change you can make to improve yourself, your life, or your attitude. Or, perhaps, you will just admire their ideas and continue on with your own, with your frame of reference having broadened, and your capacity for empathy practised.

And on that note, today I am asking for a personal challenge: what is one thing you do, believe, know or have experienced that may enrich the life of myself or my readers? From something as small as knowing how to brew the perfect cup of tea, to something as challenging as a life-experience you have overcome, leave your comment below xx


2 thoughts on “Clash of Culture: Are we Learning?

  1. This beautifully written post comes at a time when I’m asking these same questions not only of myself but of other parents within my children’s school where NZ European make up 36% of the children


    1. Thanks for your comment, Cat. I do think that Auckland is well-suited to these questions, and that they are questions we should be asking ourselves.

      Lots to ponder! xx


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