7 Ways to Discover and Connect Across Cultures

Summer’s in full swing! And what a great time to discover and connect to new cultures! Our “how-to” guide on enjoying an open summer will give you ideas on how to build common ground and increase understanding of people and cultures from around the world. Here are seven ways you can discover and connect across cultures.

Cultural Museum Colombia, Cultural Exchange, Public Diplomacy, the Open Hands Initiative

1. VISIT A CULTURAL CENTER

Cultural centers provide great ways to learn about a community’s history, traditions, and customs.  The Goethe-Institute, which has 159 centers in 98 countries worldwide, is a great way to learn about German culture, language and society. Find one near you here.

Cultural Exchanges, Public Diplomacy, the Open Hands Initiative

2. TRY AN INTERNATIONAL DISH

In many cultures, food plays a central role in social activities and provides cultural clues on traditions and values. From the food itself, to how it’s prepared, the utensils used to eat it, to when certain foods are eaten (such as on birthdays or national holidays), through food, we are able to share in a very meaningful aspect of culture.

The Queens International Night Market, in New York, is a large, family-friendly open-air night market in Queens, featuring over 40 different international food vendors, celebrating the rich cultural diversity and heritage of NYC and Queens.

Cultural Exchange, Local Authors, Public Diplomacy, the Open Hands Initiative

3. READ A BOOK WRITTEN BY A LOCAL AUTHOR

What better way to learn about a culture than from the people who comprise these cultures themselves. Reading a book from a local author on his/her society provides invaluable insight into the psyche of that community. A few books our staff have enjoyed include:

  • 100 Years of Solitude by Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez that tells the multi-generational story of the Buendía family, whose patriarch, José Arcadio Buendía, founds the town of Macondo, the metaphoric Colombia.
  • Anna Karenina by the Russian author Leo Tolstoy that tells the tragic love story of Anna Karenina, an aristocrat in 19th century Russia.

Listening to Music, Cultural Exchange, the Open Hands Initiative, Public Diplomacy

4. LISTEN TO INTERNATIONAL MUSIC

Experience new cultures through music. Listening to international music helps us to tap into a society’s rhythms and rhymes, the songs that speak to their emotions, motivations, and aspirations. Check out “Songs from Syria” a collection of songs from Syria that the Open Hands Initiative helped to produce.

Cultural Exchange, Public Diplomacy, Language, the Open Hands Initiative

5. LEARN A NEW LANGUAGE

Language and cultural are inextricably linked. Learning a new language will not only help when travelling, but provides access to a community at a deeper level. With Duolingo, a free language learning platform, you can learn up to 23 different languages.

Olympic Games, Cultural Exchange, Sports Diplomacy, the Open Hands Initiative

6. WATCH THE OLYMPIC GAMES

The Olympic Games provide a great way to promote international cooperation and peace. The Games, and sports in general, help connect people from various countries and highlight common values such as leadership, teamwork, and communication. The 2016 Summer Olympic Games start Friday, August 5, 2016.

Our Open World, Sweepstakes, Public Diplomacy, the Open Hands Initiative

7. JOIN OHI’s #OUROPENWORLD CAMPAIGN

Join the Open Hands Initiative in celebrating how every day citizens make for great diplomats! Using the hashtag #OurOpenWorld, snap and share what an “open world” means to you on Instagram or Twitter for a chance to win a Polaroid SNAP Instant Digital Camera. Don’t forget to tag and follow us (@OpenHandsInitiative on Instagram and @OpenHands_Org on Twitter) and subscribe to our newsletter!

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See here for official rules, terms, and conditions. Sweepstakes ends August 31, 2016.

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