It’s clear that living in this highly technological and interconnected age that different countries in the world are becoming more and more dependent on one another. The concept of globalization describes a world that loosens international borders, and countries that interact with one another on a much deeper level than simple trade. In a globally connected world, nations share with each other ideas about culture, religion, entertainment, even views on politics or solutions to major world issues like climate change and human rights. This can all be done faster than ever thanks to the Internet and progress in communication technology.
Globalization goes beyond sharing culture and views. It also means a world that is more interconnected on an economic and political level, meaning more interaction between different cultures more frequently. The economic crisis in 2008, where banks under financial stress in the United States had a dramatic effect in other financial systems, showed that this concept is not to be underestimated.
Even after the financial crisis, globalization has not slowed down. Economic systems around the world have bounced back since 2008, especially in the United States. In this increasingly connected world that changes rapidly, it is important that people have a deep knowledge of other cultures, beyond just being respectful of differences. After we graduate, we will be part of a workforce that will have relations across the world, and we need to be prepared for that.
In our generation, we will be going to meetings and Skyping other coworkers who are in Europe. We’ll be on conference calls with our bosses in Japan, and important dinners will have one extra seat for the translator. More than ever we’ll be interacting with people who have been raised a completely different way, opening the door for misunderstandings. This means that we need to know and understand where our future colleagues came from.
While many may think they are cultured enough to work in the world we live in right now, plenty of our views of other cultures are mistaken. Throughout history, Western and Eastern cultures have been seen as two things that are completely different. It is rooted in a concept of orientalism, that the East needs “rescue” from the West. While many may not express these beliefs blatantly, as these ideas were translated into art and literature that we have grown up around, divisions in our mind are inevitable. It’s important that we look beyond just what we’ve heard from friends and the media, but to really try to learn from those who are actively in those cultures to recognize the differences between our society and others.
The internet played a part in our new society of sharing, and can be a way for us to learn about each other. Using the Internet, we can read stories from other news organizations in other countries that really tell about what is going on in that part of the world, without American bias. We can read articles and journals published that analyze the way other societies work. Exposure to other languages has become easier than ever with Google Translate and other programs that can be used as applications on your browser.
Learning more about these cultures is necessary for our generation to do, not only because it would make people generally more respectful and more open-minded, but it is also going to help us thrive in this new globalized world. Being a cultured person will not only help one in their career, but also build relationships that are strong and respectful. These relationships we have the opportunity to create can help knock down cultural walls that have been standing for too long, and improve on the benefits a globalized world creates.
Collegian Columnist Alexandra Stettner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @alexstetts.