We live in a world of ever increasing connectivity, where we have access to as much information as we want, from around the world, at our very fingertips. Cultural diversity is more a part of daily life, both locally, and globally, as more and more people have access to technology and social media, making the world more connected than ever before. However, despite the shrinking space between interactions, having a society that respects cultural diversity is more difficult than one would think. In fact, a full three quarters of conflicts still have some cultural dimension. That is why today, on May 21st, we recognize the UN World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development.
On an international policy scale, the UN recognizes that cultural diversity is vitally important to development, as well as to peace. Irena Bokova, the Director General of UNESCO says, “Experience shows that efficient development models are those that actually integrate local cultural specificities, thus eliciting the involvement of the communities concerned.” In addition, keeping culture central to developing educational, environmental, communication, and other policies, means that marginalized groups are better represented. Diversity Day focuses on encouraging cultural and religious dialogue and plurality locally, as well as internationally, while creating a better balance between the exchange of cultural goods, and preserving the most vulnerable cultures.
Celebrating World Diversity day and experiencing cultural diversity doesn’t only have to be the project of international policy, it can just as easily be done at home. Do one of the things on the list provided by the Do One Thing Campaign for Diversity and Inclusion, from the UN’s Alliance of Civilizations:
- Visit an art exhibit or a museum dedicated to other cultures.
- Invite someone in the neighborhood from another culture or religion to share a meal with you and exchange views on life.
- Rent a movie or read a book from another country or religion than your own.
- Invite people from a different culture to share your customs.
- Read about the great thinkers of other cultures than yours (e.g. Confucius, Socrates, Avicenna, Ibn Khaldun, Aristotle, Ganesh, Rumi.)
- Visit a place of worship different than yours and participate in the celebration.
- Play the “stereotypes game.” Stick a post-it on your forehead with the name of a country. Ask people to tell you stereotypes associated with people from that country. You win if you find out where you are from.
- Learn about traditional celebrations from other cultures like Hanukkah, Ramadan or about the amazing celebrations of New Year’s Eve in Spain or the Qingming festival in China.
- Spread your own culture around the world through our Facebook page and learn about other cultures
- Explore music of a different culture
Information from UNAOC. Find out more about the Do One Thing Campaign here.
In honor of UN World Diversity Day, you can also donate to a project here at Jolkona, which will not only contribute to celebrating cultural diversity and identity, but also to aiding and empowering people in developing countries, which will soon be the epicenter of the development questions put forward by UNESCO. Through Potters for Peace, donate just $25, to train a Nicaraguan artist in making traditional pottery, for up to a year . This not only provides a steady source of income for those living in extreme poverty, but also preserves cultural heritage. Similarly, a donation of only $15, through Awamaki, supports a woman weaver in remote indigenous communities in Peru . The donation provides workshops and business training so the women can be self-sufficient, and giving them access to an international market for their traditional Peruvian weavings.
Though globally recognizing and celebrating cultural diversity may seem like an incredibly massive task, you can do your part with just a small act of seeking out and experiencing a new culture, whether it is exploring a new cuisine, or donating to help someone turn their culture into a source of well being, and have a stronger global presence. Today, on UN World Diversity Day, make a difference, be inclusive, and be part of the dialogue.