I speak for purposeful education and cross-cultural dialogue.
Now it is popular to say that we are living in the 21st century which is full of different technologies and media. In some of the countries it is easy to get access to the internet but yet we still have a poor knowledge about the world in which we live, despite all of these new technologies.
I love that I’m working in AIESEC — an organisation that breaks cultural stereotypes and barriers.
I started to think more and more about the lack of the open information when I was preparing for myAIESEC internship in Indonesia. The first thing that I have discovered is that most people get to know other countries through traveling during vacations. It is sad that some people think that Bali is a separate country, not the one of many Indonesian islands. They don’t know about beautiful Indonesia itself, which is full of traditions, culture and history.
I was a lucky child. At the age of 22 I have been to 23 countries and I really got to know that our world is full of stereotypes. And of course I knew how many people had funny things to stereotype about Russia.
But let’s go deeper into the roots. Why are we lacking good relationships between countries? I believe that people were born the same, with the same rights and opportunities. Why should we hate each other? We are all living in the same place — our amazing planet Earth.
Sometimes people are lacking information and mass media plays a bad game with it.
I think that a lot of you heard about what happened between Russia and Ukraine this spring. At exactly the same time I was volunteering in Indonesia and telling stories about my country to the school’s students. I was so far from my country but it was really painful to hear questions from the people: “Will you have a war soon?”.
Our country has a rich history, but it is full of wars and conflicts and at the same time full of great and world-famous artists and painters, musicians and scientists.
My great-granddad fought in the second World war. My mom and dad were just little kids when the war has started. My mum and dad gave birth to me in the messy 90’s in Russia, when it was hard to find any food and clothes because of the economic crisis.
Sometimes it seems to me that there was no generation in Russia that was not suffering from external wars and internal crises. I want to live happily and I want to live in my country, because I`m proud of it, of people here.
I do believe that cross-cultural understanding is the key and the fundamental thing to live in a peaceful world.
While we are striving to send people abroad and to show how much it’s worth to see the world and to love your country at the same time, we have lots of media writing weird things that support only the stereotypes. The opinions of media writers are not the opinion of every person in the country.
I speak up for the open cross-cultural dialog, because we were not born to hate each other. I believe that our world’s future depends on the human ability and willingness to collaborate with each other.
Here’s a short story from my internship with AIESEC in Indonesia. While I was giving some lessons about Russia, I always started with the question — what do you know about my home country? I was lucky if I had 2–3 answers – something like Moscow is the capital, it is cold there and that was it. Meanwhile I’m not sure that kids would have been able to find it on a map. And I’m not blaming them. It just was not important for them.
As soon as I returned from the internship, I went to a Russian school in Saint Petersburg to tell the pupils about my internship. I was asking them: “Can you imagine that Indonesian children don`t know anything about Russia?” They were laughing. I wasn’t laughing at all. My next question was: “So do you know the capital or anything about life in Indonesia?” Silence was an answer for me. Just a few guilty smiles because they didn’t know.
I’m not blaming them either. I didn’t know all this before going on the internship. So what is the aim of our educational systems in the world?
Only a small amount of students understand the importance of learning different languages and cultures, but soon it will be the only way to live because of globalization.
I wasn’t learning such things at school or in university. I’m thankful for my family for giving me such an opportunity and I’m happy that there are still so many countries to get to know.
Remember that you can only get completely trustworthy information from your personal experiences, not from the media. If you are lacking cross-cultural knowledge now — it is your time to go on exchange!
As long as our educational systems are not providing the relevant knowledge and skills, I will speak up for the purposeful education and cross-cultural dialog in order to have a peaceful world.
Kate Trofimova, 22, Russia
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