Cultural Awareness and Reducing Fear of the Unfamiliar

#1: People are generally good.

This is the first point of twenty from Gary Arndt’s insights into his three years of traveling the world.  As someone who has been lived and traveled outside the U.S., I can see what he’s saying reflected in my own memories, although he’s experienced far more variety than I have.

An interpretation of many of his points is that our fears of other nations and other cultures are generally unfounded.  Media sensationalism and a general first-hand ignorance of most Americans who haven’t traveled combine to create an unfounded mistrust in traveling outside the U.S.

Though it has lessened somewhat, the fears surrounding Islam remain for many U.S. citizens who have not been exposed to nature of Islamic beliefs and the writings of the Quran.  Lesley Hazelton recently addressed the real messages of the Quran/Koran in her nine minute lecture at TEDxRainier.

I really enjoyed the rich quality of her voice, the humor within her presentation, and her dedication to reading as many translations–as well as the original text–in order to gain the best insight into what messages are really being conveyed by a religious text often given a host of contradictory interpretations.

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