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Multiculturalism


Multiculturalism means different things to different people. Through Globalization, we now come into more contact with peoples from different countries and different cultures than our parents and grandparents.

Multiculturalism means learning about other people and the way they live, their culture, their beliefs, their traditions and their cooking. It means having tolerance and empathy, it does not mean taking on their beliefs and way of life. In some communities because of lack of living space, your neighbour is just a wall away so you soon learn about their culture.

Food in particular has become one of the ways to gain insight into a multicultural society. Take for example the influence of Mexican food has on the American palate and how it has evolved. Spicy, and sometimes heavy on cholesterol, Mexican food has influenced daily foods that we take for granted, such as wraps, tortillas and chilli. Admittedly there some of the foods are not as essential Mexican as you find in Mexico but have been adapted to suit what is available locally. In the UK, with the influx of people from the commonwealth namely India has changed the UK favourite from meat and two vegetables to Chicken Curry. Gastronomically the UK is also heavily influenced by main land Europeans, and more recently due to the European Union and the influx of eastern Europeans, grocery stores are now offering Polish foods which are slowly becoming part of a daily diet.

Another big influence on multiculturalism has been art and craft work. Again, taking the example of Mexico, look at the popularity of copper jewellery and the use of turquoise. Look also at the authentic ceramic work that many artists strive to emulate.

True Multiculturalism is not one sided, it is a shared interest and respect for each other’s beliefs. In larger cities and in large educational establishments there are planned activities that share and educate about multiculturalism. Many people may see multiculturalism as about just religion, but it is more than that. In some colleges and universities, there are multipath activities that help to share and educate. If little is known about other cultures that is when negative attitudes and beliefs are most apparent. It is only when people learn more about other cultures do they realize the beliefs that they share. If you take for example some of the stories in the Christian bible are also duplicated in Hindu beliefs (such as the story of Adam and Eve appear in both, but in the Christian bible there is an apple tree in Hinduism it is a pear tree) do you appreciate the parallels between cultures.