Posts

Why we’re all right and wrong

We have all had experiences of arguments where we feel like we’re talking to a wall. No matter how you phrase it, the other person just seems to be incapable of understanding what you’re saying. At some point you might as well just give up because it feels like there’s no point. Or maybe you get so frustrated and angry that the whole thing escalates into a fight. In the end, probably both of you have left the conversation convinced that the other person is a complete idiot with no understanding of how the world works.

When discussing topics that divide people, we usually focus on what is right or wrong or what is true or false. Because we look at things from different perspectives, two people disagreeing can both be right at the same time. To a fish, a swimming duck looks like a pair of paddling feet, whereas a fox only sees the part of duck that is on the surface. Or a meal. Yet both see the same duck.

 

Trying too see things from a different perspective can be hard…

 

Unlike fish and foxes, people have the ability to exchange ideas in a conversation. And more importantly, people are able to engage in dialogue. A dialogue is not just about two people expressing their thoughts or opinions about a certain topic, It’s about trying to understand the way other people see and experience the world, their perspective.

 

You can’t make someone understand an idea from your own perspective. To be able to make someone understand your opinion, you need to be able to explain why you see it in that light, and also to understand how the other person might feel differently. So it doesn’t really matter who’s wrong or who’s right, that is what people usually focus on, it’s about understanding why and how the other person sees things differently.

 

… but it pays off.

 

There are many things that give us a perspective, and one of the most powerful perspectives we have is given to us by our culture. If you grow up in a country where it’s not customary for women to be part of the working life, it can be hard to understand why that should be the case. If you grow up in a secular society, it can be hard to understand the role spirituality can play in people’s lives. The more our experiences differ, the more different are our perspectives, and the more difficult it becomes to understand one another. It takes will to be able to do that.

 

When having conversations with people from different cultural backgrounds, the differences of our experiences become obvious, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to understand each other. People often see changing your mind as a bad thing. But in fact it can be good, as new ideas emerge when people aren’t afraid to open up and trust each other in a conversation.

 

In addition to having arguments with idiots, we’ve all had long, late night conversations with friends that stretch into the morning. Contemplating on life and the world, both of you walk out of the conversation with the feeling that you’ve learnt something new. You’ve deepened your understanding about things, and perhaps see things in a different light than before. This is what a fruitful dialogue is. So even though it’s not easy, don’t be afraid to have those late night conversations with people who might see things differently than you do. With or without a glass of wine, depending on your perspective.

Dancing our way to world peace

Martha Graham once said “Dance is the hidden language of the soul”. Agnes de Mille’s words were “The truest expression of a people is in its dances and its music…”  And Hans Bos said “When I dance, I cannot judge, I cannot hate, I cannot separate myself from life. I can only be joyful and whole, that is why I dance.” During a dance, joy and happiness bring up the best in people and differences are for a moment forgotten or embraced and cherished.

If you are not a part of AIESEC, but have met someone who is, you’ve probably wondered – So why do AIESECers dance? Why do they jump up at the sound of certain songs and start dancing enthusiastically, while you are in a complete shock as to what just happened?

At the beginning of every local, national and international conference we have the tradition of presenting each entity present and their culture by dancing roll calls. As decades go by, the tradition continues and AIESEC entities present their culture through different dances.

Imagine young people from over 124 countries and territories in one room, showcasing their culture and doing roll call by dancing, laughing and cheering for each other.  The barriers and borders disappear, bringing the world together at one place. Diversity, richness of cultures, the splash of colors and positive energy make the room come alive and connect people of fundamentally different backgrounds.

 

The beauty is not just in the moment, but in the fact that when the music stops and you hear the song again someplace else, you are reminded of the entity which danced it, of their colors, faces, smiles and culture.

AIESEC is unique precisely because it creates a global family of young people, who take time to get to know each other and learn each other’s dances, thus expressing respect and open-mindedness towards different cultures.

When was the last time you saw the world at one place?

We did today and that’s why we are passionate about cultural understanding and intercultural dialogue.

 If you believe cultural understanding is crucial in today’s globalized world, share in a comment your idea of how we can facilitate it!

dancing

 

The Power of Understanding Different Cultures

AIESEC believes in developing socially conscious leaders of today who are passionate about the world and solving its issues, to leave behind a positive impact. We envision “Peace and fulfilment of humankind potential”, but how do we achieve this “peace” that we envision?

Simple. We send young people on exchange experiences.

Here is only one of the 26,000 stories we create every year!

La’ala and Tünde – A friendship forged through an exchange of cultures

La’ala is an Exchange Participant who recently went on exchange to China; she believed teaching kids in rural areas would bring about a new perspective and meaning to life. What she didn’t know was that the people she would meet while on exchange would leave behind an even greater impression on her than the kids.

Tünde is an Austrian Exchange Participant whom La’ala met and taught classes with during her internship.

La'ala and Tunde - 2 different cultures on exchange

Now, La’ala and Tünde come from completely different backgrounds – one is a Muslim; the other is a Christian. What lies in the beauty of this friendship is that these two exchange participants managed to find a connection in spite of their “differences.” La’ala said, “the topic of God came up and we just got lost in it, sharing similar perspectives and agreeing that religion is just a way of life”.

This friendship developed through exchange is just an example of how we are truly one as humankind. It’s not about anything else other than being connected – to recognize that we have differences- in culture, religion, and more – but also to find similarities through those differences.

The answers to the problems the world faces today are simple; they do not revolve around complex chemical weapons and war plans to solve issues and achieve peace. It simply lies in the love and friendship we make with another to fulfil our potential as human beings.

This experience has prompted La’ala to come back to Bahrain and take on a career of being a schoolteacher through which she aims to pass upon her learnings that she received while on exchange to her students. The exchange experience has also inspired Tünde to deliver a sermon at her local church, sharing her experience in hopes of inspiring her community to develop more awareness about other cultures.

Have you had a similar exchange of cultures? Where did you experience something like this?

 

If you are looking to go on an internship that will provide you with a different cultural experience, please go to opportunities.aiesec.org and check out all our available internships or read about other cultural experiences at culture-shock.me

AIESEC – 65 Years of Developing Great Leaders

For 65 years AIESEC has been impacting young people around the world. And yet we are often referred to as “The World’s Best Kept Secret.” Until Now!

With a midterm ambition to provide life-changing leadership development experiences to 1 million young people before the end of 2015, the organisation is thinking big and making the brave decision to dramatically evolve. Economical, social and technological change demands responsible and entrepreneurial leaders who are both adaptable and globally minded. By its international nature, AIESEC has already succeeded in bringing together over 1 million young and talented minds to build a road towards a better future, where cultural and social boundaries are overtaken by international exchange of experiences and ideas. Understanding the world is the most powerful tool to change the world and this is what AIESEC aims to do.

This is why we do what we do. This is our contribution. Join us, and impact the future.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IDJQOJCFPng