Party all night! Sleep all day!
by Evans Yonson
Barcelona – They say that culture is one that collectively defines a certain a group of people or a society. There are stereotypes that people have on others. We all have preconceived ideas of who people are without really getting to know one in the first place. Mention a country or a city, surely we all have somethings to say about them even the information that we have are all media shaped.
Today, as I fly back to the Philippines I will lay over in Doha for a few hours. I have been to Doha twice, well the international airport I mean. But I have never really seen and felt how it is to be in Qatar. Unless I experience it myself then I will always have this belief in me that might be as insulting or appreciative to any Qatari.
How do you overcome biases and avoid being branded as a racist? The answer is perfectly simple and yet very hard to achieve. You need to read and observe. If you can’t travel for the moment, then reading about a certain culture or society is the best answer. Nothing beats reading and accessing all available materials whether in the library or online. The internet has almost all the answers to all unimaginable questions. Most of these information come with photographs and videos also. Life has never been so convenient since the evolution of interactive media. It has become a mortal sin (well, for those in the developed world) to say that one doesn’t know this or that. But having information by the click of the keyboard does not translate to knowledge of a culture. You have to live among individuals and groups in order to say that you know something. Some people have their ways of knowing and getting acquainted with their host cultures. Mine is meeting people and observing them up close and personal. I meet them with no pretense. I observe them with an open mind that anything can happen. It’s like going to a Halloween party wearing a costume without really understanding why. Ask questions and you’ll definitely get an answer. The answer will then help you shape your thoughts and ideas of what your host culture is. But then one answer leads to another question to another answer. Thereby, creating and forming an enormous discovery and knowledge on your part. This makes you a highly learned one, withstanding your individuality but enriching your entire personhood.