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  • Edición impresa de Abril 19, 2016.

United States has a long history of immigration that has included peoples from many places throughout time. It should be noted that the Native Americans, legitimate owners of the land, have not have any say in who comes and stays in their land.

The first waves of Europeans created the new laws according to their specific interests and based on those interests, created the laws that have changed from time to time.

The fact that people arrive to stay all the time does not imply that we have learned to get along with others. Instead there has been an underlying rule that the newcomer has to become like the locals, leaving behind their culture, language and own history.

It is for the well being of everyone involved that we must make an effort to understand each other better. On the host side there is an idea of superiority and wanting the others to adjust to their standards. For the foreigners there is a sentiment of retaining whatever little is left from their place of origin. It is not only the language, but also traditions, food and to a certain extent the idea that their past and place of origin was better than ‘this’.

Having an intercultural interaction does not guarantee intercultural competence. There has to be an attitude of respect, openness, curiosity and discovery that drives the individual to move our of his/her comfort zone to a point of learning about the other.

When we try to know about someone else’s culture, we realize that our own point of view has been influenced by our place of birth, family, friends, religion and culture that has created our own identity, thus we begin to understand the same about others.

Are we able to see the world from other’s perspectives? What about when there is a communication gap due to the difference in language? The idea of seeing the world though different eyes, changes us internally, leading us to an intercultural competence driven from the heart and mind because it changes us from the inside.

Becoming competent is a lifelong process but is very rewarding since it multiplies our possibilities to understand and enjoy more people and circumstances. The main purpose of becoming intercultural competent is not to become politically correct, it is more related to acknowledging the fact that we are members not of a tribe, a nationality, group, or ethnicity, but members of the human race and we all belong in the planet and have rights and responsibilities to each other and earth itself.

Sharing the planet goes further than living in a given space, it is being aware of our differences and similarities and establishing relations with one another. This starts not only in your own particular group, church and family but also at all the other places where you are with others.

The next time that people begin a conversation by establishing groups of ‘us’ and ‘them’, be the first one to try and find the common bond and then start a new outlook on life.

Let us hope that the current political campaigning gives us the opportunity to try new ways of seeing and communicating with others, and will not tangle us into more hate and dissonance.

 


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