The television blared a familiar tune of that advertisement for the 10th time that morning. Something that had become quite popular, quite fast. The catchy tune was one thing, what was more unique was what it talked of.
All kinds of friends are important.
It then went on to talk about the different kinds of friends that a person could have. Some who are our pillars, others who simply make us laugh; some, of whom we can ask any favor, some with whom we can watch any film, read any book...and countless such cases.
It got me thinking - Friends are the family we choose, they say. Of our own free will. And that is that? Of the mundane everyday things that we do with friends and take them for granted almost, we rarely scratch below the surface and contemplate about the profound effect that friends have on our lives. But let's not get into that, let's tackle something that delves a little deeper in this area - The importance of having friends from different cultures. Why is it important to make friends who belong to different cultures, backgrounds and ethnicity? In the following sections, certain factors will be discussed.
Making Friends from Different Cultures - Why it is Important
Having friends is important. That is an accepted fact. Not only from the perspective of fun and entertainment, but also because of the learning, emotional support and the growth that they lead to. When we make friends from different diversities and cultures, it not only provides for and fulfills these factors, but also adds some more to the list. Given below are a few points.
The main advantage of having friends from different ethnic backgrounds and cultures is that it promotes multiculturalism within individuals. Multiculturalism is the acceptance and promotion of the differences within races, cultures and religious backgrounds.
Having friends who are culturally different from you allows you to develop an insight into their lives. It shows you how their practices or beliefs are different from yours, and yet, how it leads to their growth. It teaches one to accept differences and to build an understanding that no religion or culture is better than the other but that each has its unique features. One has to learn from them and inculcate the good in them, if possible. Multiculturalism becomes an important concept to inculcate in today's world of globalization where more than ever, the chances of people living and interacting with racially and culturally different people than their own are heightened.
They say that traveling and gaining different experiences has a highly positive influence on one's personality. It teaches one to handle himself/herself in different settings as well as helps one acquire social skills. One must agree though that it is not always possible for everyone to travel and thereby interact with people and gain experiences like thus. That's where having culturally different friends comes in.
When one interacts and befriends people from other cultures, one automatically learns about the nuances of their practices, language, certain habits etc. Without even realizing it, one begins to garner rich and diverse experiences about the world. One does not remain confined to his/her own culture and practices, but understands that there are other belief systems as well. All this leads to effective personality development and growth and a person becomes socially more adept at carrying himself through different situations in life.
Knowledge and Experiences
One of the main advantages of making friends from different cultures is the amount of knowledge you garner. You learn about their world, their surroundings, the practices and belief systems that they follow and more. Not only do you gain knowledge, but when you take part in their practices, you gain a wide range of experiences as well.
For example, say you've been invited to a friend's wedding who belongs to a different country. Can you imagine the amount of knowledge and experience you will gather by going there? In preparing to take that trip you may learn the basics of a new language, you may read up on the culture and distinct practices of that place; if you've never traveled internationally before, you will gather experience in that sphere as well. The possibilities are limitless if you only just think about it.
Open and Accepting
We grow up learning about our culture and the practices that are specific to that culture. It is only when we make friends with people from different cultural backgrounds that we learn about the other cultures and the specific practices of the same. There could be several things in their culture that are different from yours and it is not always that we agree with them, but we learn to become more accommodating, accepting and more broad minded of others' differences. Thus it makes us broaden our horizon and get away from a particular mindset.
Awareness about One's Own Culture
One does not normally go on to think and contemplate about one's culture, but when we have ethnically diverse friends and we learn about different cultures and different practices, there is a tendency to compare it with our own culture. The result of this practice is that we go back to our roots. Due to this, we not only draw the positive points of the same and thereby learn to appreciate them more, but we also think about certain negative practices or drawbacks of our culture. This then allows us to change our attitude and take it towards the positive.
For all these reasons and more (which you'll discover as you go along) it is really important that you make friends who are culturally and ethnically diverse than you. For what it ensures is not merely 'company and comfort', but rich learning experiences, the impact of which will be felt not only by you but others around you as well.