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I have been an elementary and secondary school teacher and administrator. Currently, I am a faculty member in the Faculty of Education at Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. My M.Ed. and Ph.D. had a focus on the educational and linguistic experiences of children who moved from other countries to Canada.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Glocal but Miles Apart

I read an intriguing article entitled (click on the title) It's not a small world after all (Globe and Mail). The author makes a compelling case that although the world may seem like it's getting smaller, there are still significant differences between cultures, particularly in the values and assumptions that under-gird cultures.

My travel and work experience certainly point to many more shared experiences between people in different contexts now than 10 or 20 years ago. This past weekend illustrates this. I was on Facebook with two university students in Haiti. I communicated by email with colleagues in the US and New Zealand. I enjoyed talking with a young man over dinner who grew up in Ethiopia, Sudan, and Canada. These interactions point to a proximity between cultures that is unparalleled in human history.

But Pico Iyer, the author of the article, raises some important points. Despite the proximity and intersections between cultures, are we really all the same? Does everyone in the global village speak the same language and, even if we did, do we really mean the same things when we speak? Iyer provides many compelling examples of differences that remain in our world, even if it does not appear that way on the surface. I am thankful for this diversity. Who wants to go to a community and find that everyone/thing is the same? Is it not the same for our global community? I love the experience of listening and observing in different contexts as I seek to learn more about myself and the world in which I live.

Iyer finishes the article with two strong statements:

I love the way that we can experience Jamaica, Pakistan, Haiti, Vietnam in our classrooms and cities; I shudder at the notion that to see them is to think we understand them or can easily be one with them.

Some people worry that soon all of us will be speaking English; my deeper fear is that, even if we are, we’ll still be largely incomprehensible to one another.

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