Have you ever experienced culture-shock? Do you think other countries’ culture that is different from our own culture is incorrect culture that we should correct? Now, we are living in a global village. We can get in touch with people who have other nationalities or cultures easily. However, communicating with foreigners means confronting cultural barriers.

I’ve been learning English since 28th September in this school. As you know, in our school, there are so many people from various countries that have their own cultures and traditions. I usually talk about my own nation’s culture to my friends from other countries. Among them, there are some cultures that I can’t understand easily. Even so, can I make fun of their culture? Do i have the right to consider their culture as an incorrect culture that we should correct ?

In conversation class, students from various countries talked about marriage and food. I was surprised that I heard that men from Saudi Arabia can marry 4 wives. It is uncommon in not only my country, but also other countries, so I thought that it is impossible to understand their culture though I couldn’t say it. However, when we talked about food, I was aware that I had had a preconception and ethnocentrism because they also didn’t understand my country’s food. It was a very good experience which made me to change my biased opinion.

We all have ethnocentrism even if don’t perceive and admit it. We think other cultures are barbaric too easily only because they are very different from our own culture. Ethnocentrism derives from ancient Greek. The English word ‘barbarian’ is originally a Greek word that meant other tribes who lived around Greece. The Greeks called these people barbars because Greece couldn’t understand the word bar-bar that is the sound a dog makes. In other words, the Greeks considered them as dogs.

Do you want to be considered as barbarian from other people ? It is definite that you don’t want to. Other people also must be not want to be treated as barbarian by you! Then, how can we overcome ethnocentrism? We should have cultural relativity instead of ethnocentrism. If we keep cultural relativity in mind, you can distinguish ‘something that is different’ from ‘something that is incorrect’. Cultural relativity is the action of opening the mind to realize cultures!

Text by Wonsik
Photo by Cayusa