Cultural Awareness is all about Tolerance

Cultural awareness is having the appreciation and recognition that people are different all over the world. It means having tolerance and sensitivity in many situations and controlling our attitude towards others.

Because we are all humans, we instantly believe that we must be all the same, ok yes, we have different nationalities, different languages and we may have a different colour of skin, but apart from that we are all the same.

When we travel to another country, on business or on holiday, we only have a short glimpse of the country and people we are visiting and we readily accept the lifestyle, however it is, because we know we will not be there long.

We may have to cope with understanding a few words in another language, or a new currency and getting used to some new tastes, in food and drink, but this is all part of the experience of being somewhere different.

But if we stay longer or decide to live in another country, we then start to notice some significant differences and realise that the lifestyle is quite a bit different from what we may have expected. In fact we start to judge everything by our own standards.

We ask, “Why don’t they do things the way we do?” “Why don’t they understand what I am saying to them?” “Don’t they have any manners?”

We have a slow realisation that it is not just the language that is so different to our ears, the whole situation is different. The people here have different tastes, different ideas and a very much different understanding to what you are accustomed to.

Over time, we start to have a stronger perception of some of the things that make these people the way they are. Their politics and laws are different, their beliefs and even their religion may be different and their education systems may also be unlike the ones we appreciate.

Their customs, values, ideas, attitudes and social activities may be totally different to what we have become used to. In fact you now have the complete realisation that it is not just the lifestyle that has changed for you.

But was it not that lifestyle that first attracted you to this country and these people. If they had come to your country with the expectation of everything being the way that they knew in their country, would you have changed everything for them, no you would not, so don’t expect them to change everything for you.

Take a deep breath and ask yourself this question, “How do so many people in the world manage to live together in mixed environments without any of the circumstances that you are experiencing affecting their way of life?”

How? This is how. They have realised that it is only their own attitude to the situations that are presented to them that determines the outcome.

By showing tolerance and sensitivity to other people’s feelings, with a recognition and respect for their ideas, you will very soon find that it becomes a natural way of thinking and your attitude will reflect this fact.

Their politics, laws, beliefs, religion, customs, ideas, values and education systems will all remain the same, you just have to give some patient attention to them, to gain better appreciation and understanding.

Getting more involved with the people, in social activities, you will begin to have a much fuller immersion in their ways and they will want to help you to become more integrated with them. They will put a lot of effort into communicating with you, by teaching you some of their language and learning some of yours.

You will find that their ideas, beliefs and values are not so far away from your own. And the enlightenment that families, children, relationships and friends are just as important to them as they are to you will reinforce your sense of belonging.

The creativity and artistic flair that is apparent in many countries will be presented to you by the people in their customs, traditions and folklore. You will have the opportunity to see some very spectacular sights and enjoy some wonderful enthusiastic experiences.

Whether it is just a long visit, relocation due to employment, or your new home, this country and these people are now a part of your way of life. And they will give you, as warm a welcome, as you give them.

Tolerance, sensitivity, respect and the knowledge that we are all the same, despite our differences, can and will, give us an attitude to life and to the people around us, that truly provides us with recognition of why we were put on this earth; to live in harmony and complete the successful fulfilment of our lives.