UN World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development
We like to think of ourselves as passionate advocates of cultural diversity here at Vandu, and with good reason; apart from the fact that our business depends on it, but the diversity of our cultures is a strong force in development, in both the economic sense and the personal sense too – it’s common thought that the more culturally aware you are, the more well-rounded you are as a person.
So, what’s the argument for cultural diversity and why should we dedicate an entire day to it? Perhaps it might be worthwhile to look at when cultural diversity is not embraced; for starters, three quarters of the world’s major conflicts have a cultural dimension according to the UN’s website, and it’s obvious when you look back to the 2nd World War, or the current Rohingya crisis. Another reason why cultural diversity is good for us is that it offers new methods of learning and different perspectives on any given subject – take teaching, for example; when Chinese academics sought to compare their own method of teaching with the USA’s version, they recognised that the Chinese focused on the acceptance of facts and fixed information and had teachers regarded as authoritative figures, whereas "American students are encouraged to debate topics. The free open discussion on various topics is due to the academic freedom which most American colleges and universities enjoy” and saw teachers as equals; both methods have their merits, and you now see culturally diverse university campuses across the globe.
So, what are the threats to cultural diversity? The most pressing issue is the age of information; as we share information over the internet in standardised languages i.e. standard French or Spanish, we lose the more rarer dialects as they go out of fashion, and the cultures that might go with them – some linguistic professors predict that by the year 2100, 90% of languages around the world will have become extinct if language death continues at its current rate. Another issue is the U.S’ superpower status and its subsequent cultural dominance – the ubiquity of Hollywood movies, fast food, music and clothing are clear indications of its strength. Finally, the lack of protection for minority cultures, and the attraction to larger ones that tend to have better technology and perhaps be more progressive, mean that we may slowly slide to the opposite of cultural diversity – cultural uniformity.
Cultural uniformity doesn't sound very interesting does it? The argument for cultural diversity is clear, and we hope to see you celebrating the UN’s World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, on the 21st of May!
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