Friday, May 29, 2009

Achieving Global Understanding

(I wrote this proposal to join 2009 World Civic Youth Forum in South Korea. But I didn't pass the selection. After all, it was fine because it was fun =D. My proposal main theme is peace and culture. )

According to Wikipedia site, there are 25 wars from 2003 until now. Some of them are still on going. Discrimination also exists in all over the world. Sometimes they develop into wars. What happen to this world? What things are we lacking so that wars erupt so easily?

A war might occur from the inability to make an agreement that satisfied both sides. In the same time, we have to keep in mind that people will never be satisfied. Mr. A agrees on something after understanding Mr. B’s conditions. Mr. B should do the same thing to Mr. A too. Discrimination comes from people who can’t understand why others are different from them.

In the worldwide context, this understanding means global understanding. How do we achieve that? Realizing that the world consists of different people from different cultures, my suggestion is by strengthening multicultural friendship and partnership.

Multicultural is widely described as a term that includes people of all races and ethnic groups (Figueredo, 1993: 32). Multicultural friendship and partnership means friendship and partnership between multicultural people. In the progress, there shouldn’t be any domination from any side. Each person should be able to bring up their cultural identity and view freely without hesitation as long as he/she doesn’t humiliate others.

The college youth can take great part in this case. Since they are in the state of developing themselves, it will be easier for them to implement new things in their life. But, despite of the well-developed technology that enables us to make contacts with anyone in other parts of the world, why are we still lack of understanding?

Well, saying hello and a little chit chat will not make they understand others multiculturally. They have to experience it themselves through student exchange program, long-term multicultural correspondence, or multicultural international project. Each of them can give students chances to improve their cultural empathy, open-mindedness, emotional stability, social initiative, flexibility, and self-efficacy (Van Oudenhoven, Jan Pieter).

In student exchange program, students live in a new environment with different norms and habits for one or a half year. It doesn’t only allow them to learn foreign language, but also to learn about other culture very closely at heart. By having friends from other cultural backgrounds, they will learn to see the world from different perspectives. They will know how to interact better with people from other cultural backgrounds. Increasing the numbers of student exchange program will help more students to be like that.

Not all students have the chance to experience student exchange program due to financial account and opportunities. The long-term multicultural correspondence is cheap and simple. Students can use the internet to do this from their home country. The correspondence should be intensive and emphasizing global issues that will stimulate different cultural views. Sharing these kinds of thoughts will broaden their mind and understanding. Learning an issue by discussing it with your friend will remains longer in your mind rather than seeing it on the television. Of course the students would be more motivated if the colleges and universities make this correspondence obligatory.

The multicultural partnership could be actualized from multicultural international project. Students from different countries (ideally from different continents) gather to do a project, such as running business or children development volunteer work in a developing country. They will have a chance to work together as a team with students from other countries. They will also learn many things from the host country society.

Those experiences will lead students to build full personality. In the end, they will be people with global understanding. We can also expect them to have positive contributions to the world. It is because their experiences and knowledge support them to figure out how to make resolution and peace-building needed for conflict. If we have more people like this, we have one step closer to the world without war and discrimination.


“Community Development Volunteer Work.” 20 March 2009.

“Culture War.” 20 March 2009.

“List of Wars 2003 on.” 20 March 2009.

Ahida, Ridha. “Justice Concept in Multicultural Society Seen from John Rawls and Will Kymlicka’s Perspective.” Doctoral Dissertation, University of Indonesia. FIBUI: Depok, 2005.

Bennett, Chritine I. Comprehensive Multicultural Education: Theory and Practise. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1986.

Cifuentes, L., and K. L. Murphy. “Promoting Multicultural Understanding and Positive Self-concept Through a Distance Learning Community: Cultural Connections.” 20 March 2009.

Figueredo, Danilo H. “Developing Media Collections to Serve Multicultural/Multiethnic Communities.” Multicultural Acquisitions. Ed. Karen Parrish and Bill Katz. New York: The Hawarth Press, 1993.

Hirst, Paul. War and Power in the 21st Century. Jakarta: Murai Kencana, 2004.

Kahn, Joel S. Culture, Multiculture, Postculture. London: SAGE Publications, 1995.

Sunarto, Kamanto, et al. “Multicultural Education in Indonesia and Southeast Asia: Stepping Into the Unfamiliar”. Journal of Indonesia Anthropology (2004).

Van Oudenhoven, Jan Pieter. “Predicting Multicultural Effectiveness of International Students: the Multicultural Personality Questionnaire.” 20 March 2009.

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