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Why Should We Care About Each Other's Cultural Differences?

By Brandon E. Campbell | Originally Published June, 2017

Never forget where you came from. That’s what Grandma taught us, right?

Everyone has a certain sense of pride about where they're from. Whether you think your hometown is the greatest city in the world or secretly hate it -- you won't let anybody else talk bad about it. You feel like it's a certain right of expression that only people from home get to have.

But if someone ever wants to visit you're the first person to offer to show them around. "Let me show you what my city is like for REAL." Why? Because you want to leave that person with a good impression about something that you hold close to you. Something that helped set your foundation. It’s yours.

Well, for the same reason you would want them to care about yours, it gives more insight to who you are as a person. Not only does it make them feel like you care but it also opens their ears and minds towards your perspective. It disarms whatever wall has been built up by their previous life experiences or preconceived notions.

A small example of this was shared during Obama’s chat at University of Chicago this week in his first Post Presidential address. A young pharmacist recounted the first time she met the Former President as a then Senatorial candidate.

I remember the first time I met you I tapped you on the shoulder and said, ‘"Hey Mr. Obama can I get a picture?’" You said no and at first I was like “oh no” then you said “No, not until you tell me your name”. And you extended your hand to shake mine.

That moment of genuine interest made a young girl feel like her voice mattered and also allowed her to be open minded to what the candidate postured at the speech that day.

That moment made me focus on a few of the 44th President’s quotables at the University of Chicago that resonated and reaffirmed why it matters to engage with people different from you.

Quote #1 “When you talk to individuals one on one there’s a lot more that people have in common that divides them”

When we take the time to engage with people that are different than us it has the ability to either broaden your perspective or more thoughtfully fortify your own beliefs. Because you took the time to hear someone else’s reality you either opened your mind to something you had not previously thought about or come up with a better thought out reason why you belief what you belief. Genuine sit-downs not only humanize the ideals of a person, they stretch you personally.

We all often default to our comfort zones in times of contentment and times of conflict. And our comfort zones are rarely filled with things that challenge our conventional wisdom. Because your conventional wisdom is only conventional to people who think like you do.

Quote #2 “We learn more by Listening to understand rather than listening to respond”

Have you ever been in a conversation and have that comeback on-deck like Big Papi Ortiz in the bottom of the ninth? This was likely before you even took the time to understand why the person had this particular point of view. Listening to respond creates an ears closed mouth open contentious environment where the ego takes over. You just want to make sure you’re heard. Listening to understand opened the door for empathy -- an opportunity to settle on common ground while maintaining different view points.

People never forget a moment that you took a genuine interest in them.

And that’s something I’ve seen hold true firsthand in these last two months of I’ve been on this journey of cultural exploration. Each interaction has been met with sincere gratitude that I would care about someone else’s perceived small hometown. But I am also grateful that they opened themselves, their families, and homes to exchange with me and chat about what makes them prideful about their home.

Just because we open our minds and hearts to someone else’s point of view, perspective or culture doesn’t mean we’re forgetting where we came from. It doesn’t mean we pulled a Shea Moisture and tried to quell the uproar with a Pepsi.

We always know where home is. And within the process of sharing a little of our home and being willing to allow someone to share a little of theirs is how we create an ever-growing, extended family.

To become apart of the Extended Family, join the daily journey on Instagram @bcamboss.

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