International GLOBAL CITIZEN’S AWARD
 
 

The International Global Citizen’s Award
1. Understanding other cultures and outlooks

Knowing and understanding about other cultures and outlooks is an essential part of global citizenship. While we are developing a better understanding of how other people live and think, we also develop a better understanding of our own culture and how we see the world. And a better understanding of our own culture helps us to understand other cultures better too.

In the award programme, the emphasis is less on how much factual knowledge is acquired, and more on reflection about that knowledge. How do we see the world differently because of the knowledge we have acquired?

We can find out more about other cultures and outlooks by

  • reading
  • watching films
  • watching television programmes
  • visiting websites

These do not involve direct interaction with other people. We can do them at home on our own. As part of the award programme, other actions which do involve direct contact with other people are required. It will probably be necessary to make some special arrangements to talk to people specifically to develop better understanding of their outlook and background.

Examples:

  • Student interview
    Pandit and Alderman (2004) describe a simple and technique which seems to be effective in promoting greater intercultural understanding. In the study, a student from one country was assigned a student from another country to interview. (Of course, both students were willing participants!)The “interviewer” prepared for the interview by researching the other student’s country, and formulating questions. After the interview, the interviewer gave a written account of the interview, and said what (s) he had learned from it. At the end, the interviewers reflected on what they had learned, considering questions such as “What did you learn about the international student?” and “How did you reflect on your own culture after the interview?”

Although very simple, the research indicated that this method did produce some changes in outlook in the interviewers.

Other potential ways to develop understanding and awareness include:

  • Email or website conversations with people of different backgrounds
  • visiting a local mosque, church or community centre to talk to people
  • interviewing adults from a different cultural background within a school
  • reflecting on everyday encounters with friends of different backgrounds
  • overseas visits, with appropriate reflection
  • Model United Nations participation

This section will have most impact if there is some preparation before activities. Simple things like making a list of questions to consider while watching a film or reading a book will be beneficial.

Our understanding of other cultures and outlooks is probably best developed by a combination of personal experience, and reading, researching, watching films and programmes. But the direct, personal experience is essential.

In reflecting on our developing understanding of other cultures and outlooks, it is helpful to ask questions such as

  • What have I found most interesting about what I have found out? Why?
  • How do I see my own culture differently as a result of what I have found out?

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The International Global Citizen’s Award
E: info@globalcitizensaward.org