The Beauty of Cultural Diversity

by Fatma AKDENİZ

When you ask what cultural diversity is you may hear people talking about differences of nationalities, customs, religions, languages, even cuisines. It can be scary for those who are not familiar with the term. Some support it, some don’t. I usually come across on the Net a discussion about the origin of a food or meal. Baklava, yoghurt, kebab, dolma, mousakka,… The list goes on and on. No one thinks about the beauty of cultural diversity but the origin of the food.

I knew almost nothing about Greece before my trip there. I was chosen for a training course. I was excited but also anxious. Our historical relations weren’t so good. There were endless discussions on the origin of the foods we have in common. I thought that it would be a big challenge for me.

I was familiar with the Greek songs which have the same rhythms as ours. I used to listen to Nikos Vertis who can be compared with Tarkan because Vertis is one of the music legends of Greece.

My first impressions were totally different from what I thought when I landed to Greece. It was like visiting another city in Turkey. The Greek participants of the TC were so friendly and helpful. Even one of them added me as a partner to another project later.

They took us to a restaurant for traditional Greek cuisine. I was surprised with the menu. There were mousakka and revani which are cooked in every Turkish kitchen. My biggest surprise was hearing that they even have the meal with the same name “imam bayıldı”.

I even heard a Greek woman swearing the same as we use in Turkish because of the delay of the train. Of course, this is not a good example but this shows that we share a lot in common.

I heard stories from families who once lived on the west coast of Turkey.

All the prejudices and fears were gone after my experiences of visiting Greece.

The positive effects of travelling is undeniable but if you don’t have the possibility, just read! Reading is essential for those who want to learn about cultures. Also listen and talk.

When you look at different nationalities, you may see that you share some things. They can be exactly the same or with small differences. This is the result of sharing, living together, communication, interaction, trade, language, etc. This is the beauty of cultural diversity. Mantı is hınkal in Central Asia, dumpling(gyoza) in China/Japan, ravioli in Italy, piroshki in Greece, Ukraine even Russia… The list is endless like the cultural diversity. Instead of enjoying the taste, why would anyone focus on the origin?

Diversity is richness. Why would anyone isolate himself/herself while there is opportunity of living in a diversed community? Fear of unknown, hate, xenophobia, discrimination,… No matter what the reason is, we should raise awareness of diversity. I believe that Erasmus+ projects serve well to that purpose. From young to old, many people from different ages have the opportunity to travel, observe different lifestyles, exchange cultures, break stereotypes, update their current knowledge and improve their skills like communication, language, organizational and management.

I am looking forward to join the training course in France next month which is about cultural diversity. I believe in the benefits of lifelong learning so I keep on improving myself.  I suggest to those who has never joined an Erasmus+ project to apply them. Before getting an approval, why don’t you start by reading a book/article on a place, country or culture you don’t know much about?

Here is a fun video about stereotypes:

and diversity!


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