Gaining Cultural Exposure Without Leaving the Country

Most people travel during the summer. Some will head to foreign lands like Nepal, Peru or Tanzania while others will stay close to home for financial or other reasons. If you are staying in America this summer, there are many ways you can bring the world to you. Here are some suggestions:

1.) Visit your local museum. Summer is often a time of special tours at your local museum. Exhibits allow you to learn and explore other cultures, countries and times in history.

2.) Visit a cultural neighborhood. Many cities have neighborhoods that are known for their ethnic and cultural crafts, foods and special attractions. Often in the summer, neighborhoods will feature a special event or an entire weekend like Cinco de Mayo or Celebrate Africa.

3.) Try a new type of dancing. Have you ever been tango dancing? As you listen to the music, you can almost feel yourself in the San Telmo district of Buenos Aires where tango dancing was born. How about salsa dancing? How about Celtic dancing? If you don’t like to dance, you can certainly go watch people who do this well. It is awe-inspiring.

4.) Go to some ethnic restaurants. Have you ever eaten Morrocan food with your fingers and had your hands washed for you by the waiter at the table? Ever tasted the wine they serve in Ethopian restaurants? Have you had fresh tabouli and couscous at Mediteranean restraurants? Have you had the spinikoutpita at a Greek restaurant? It is fascinating and you will gain global experience!

5.) Host foreign students in your home. There are many opportunities to host foreign exchange students in your home through Up With People, AFS or any
other organization which works with foreign exchange students at the high school and college age. This is a great way to share your hospitality and learn first-hand about their culture and life.

6.) Go to a Lecture. Many libraries and museums feature summer lecture series from people who have been to interesting, though oft-thought of places. You can hear about a climb to K2 in Pakistan. You can listen to the details of excavating for 4,000 year old clues to life in ancient Egypt. You can discover what it is like to go diving off the coast of Kuala Lumpur in Asia.

7.) Read. Whether you get a subscription to National Geographic or read one of Michner’s classics, you can travel in depth in one country or get a sense of many countries without leaving your arm chair. Many novels and non-fiction books capture the heart and soul of people in countries around the world.

8.) Volunteer. Many wonderful global organizations like World Wild Life and
Habitat for Humanity work world wide to bring consciousness and relief to animals and low income people, respectively. You can join their local affiliates and meet people who have traveled the world and are now working here in the states.

There are many ways to experience the richness and the splendor that the world has to offer. Enjoy and have fun!

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