World Day of Cultural Diversity

Held every on the 21st of May, UNESCO leads the celebration of the World Day of Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, highlighting the part that culture plays in enriching life, but also the role of intercultural dialogue in achieving peace and sustainable development.

The pandemic proved the value of the cultural and creative sector in generating social cohesion, educational resource and personal well-being in times of crisis. In the midst of  European crisis in Ukraine, and world crisis following the economic toll that Covid has taken on us, we must look again towards culture to bring us peace, stability and happiness once more. Through diversity and collaboration we can collate the ideas, experiences and excellence of a range of individuals and groups to open discussion between cultural and social divides and impact, and benefit, from lasting socio-economic development, all across the globe.

 

What is Cultural Diversity?

Cultural diversity refers to the deposition of knowledge, experience, beliefs, values, attitudes, ethnicity, language, birthplace, religion and world views of an individual, or group of individuals, encompassing who, and what people comprise of.

In more simple terms, culture can be considered the ‘system of knowledge’, shared by a group of individuals in a given context.

Culture consists of patterns, both explicit and implicit, of shared behaviours and experiences, of which translate into a system of values and ideas; often produced through  conditioning influences and products of action. Culture distinguishes individuals within groups and structures, expresses emotions, shapes societies and makes sense of our world and those who live in it. Culture is immaterial and immeasurable, yet plays a crucial part in who we are and what we do.

As the world becomes increasingly globalised, it is important to understand that the world comprises of diverse culture and beliefs. Understanding this is crucial towards encompassing the views of all, ensuring harmony, collaboration and peace within society.

 

Why does Cultural Diversity Matter?

As quoted by the UN, three-quarters of the world’s major conflicts have a cultural dimension. Bridging this cultural gap is urgent, and necessary, for lasting peace, stability and development. 

Through our culture we develop a sense of belonging, personal and cognitive growth and the ability to empathise and relate to each other. Direct benefits of a strong and vibrant culture include health and wellness, self-esteem, skills, development, social capital and economic return. 

Culture helps us to maintain lasting relationships and can be considered the starting point of each and every person’s thought process and journey of personal development and is a crucial aspect of our daily interactions with others. It contributes toward societal value, helping us to maintain a strong sense of self, improves our well-being, encourages us to learn and to strive for equality, fairness and greatness, all in equal measure.

Through being culturally aware, and culturally diverse, we can break down these cultural barriers, build cultural bridges, and learn how to love and appreciate those different from us. It encourages us to understand and relate to others and steer away from conflict, and towards inner and outer peace. By being culturally aware, we can recognise and have an appreciation for other’s values, customs, and beliefs and meet them without judgement or prejudice. When we are culturally aware, we understand what is appropriate, what is acceptable, and what is understood.

Being culturally aware helps us to encourage inclusivity and homogeny within society…

 

How do we become more Culturally Aware?

1. Learn as much as we can about other cultures…

Naturally, we see the world through our own eyes, influenced by our subconsciously held values and beliefs. We need to expose ourselves, observe and get into contact with the cultures around us each day to embrace culture and society in the way it is intended. One of the best ways to do this is through attending cultural festivals and events. Here you get to experience culture through food, music, art and celebration.

By exposing ourselves to other cultures, we get the opportunity to interact with people who are different from us. When we are around people from different cultures and interact with them often, we can observe and understand situations that may lead to misunderstandings and points of conflict.

2. Understand the assumptions that we have that impact our impressions of the outside world…

Our assumptions about communication styles, body language, and other characteristics impact how we view the outside world. This is because own culture is so ingrained into our thought process that we are usually unaware of its existence, therefore, implicitly expecting the world to reflect our own culture back at us.

Here we must become aware of cultures different to our own in order to refrain from stereotyping or comparing different practices and beliefs in relation to our own.

3. Embrace difference and encourage unity…

We are all unique, but we all live together on this earth and collectively (on a large scale) we face the same challenges. Rather than seeing our differences as something that should keep us apart, let us embrace them, celebrate them, and let them unite us

We hope you enjoy and embrace today, the World Day of Cultural Diversity, and celebrate with colour, confidence and happiness… we sure will!

 

Sources:

https://www.un.org/en/observances/cultural-diversity-day

https://www.easyllama.com/blog/importance-of-cultural-awareness

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