15 Intercultural dialogue
Intercultural dialogue is a process that comprises an open and respectful exchange or interaction between individuals, groups and organizations with different cultural backgrounds or views. Young people everywhere have their own understanding of the world but in working together with other young people from different cultural backgrounds, it is important to be open-minded in order to understand and appreciate different ways of achieving a greater version of objectives.
It is also important to know that when young people do not welcome and value views of their peers with different backgrounds, it could be perceived that their contributions are not good enough and therefore ideas and suggestions may be withheld. This will reduce active participation and make the collaboration a one-sided affair, but remember that in working together, there must be equality and creativity to enhance the partnership!
There are many challenges young people face in trying to collaborate with others from different backgrounds. Common among them are Language barriers, differences in economic and political situation of their various countries, gap between technological advancement of the different countries, socio-cultural lifestyle of the different young people and concern for environment with respect to sustainable development.
These challenges may lead to difficulties such as confusion because of misunderstanding of the others background, gender discrimination (may be because of how females are discriminated against traditionally), being biased because of religion or tribe, nepotism based on ethnic background, lack of knowledge and expertise due to little or no education, resistance to change or adjust due to norms of tradition and conflict with leadership styles.
A very concrete approach to strengthen intercultural communication will be to organize intercultural youth camps and workshops with activities aimed at building communication skills and earning respect for each other’s culture. These meetings must be frequently organized before, during and after the project collaborations and it is important to evaluate how participants deal with cross cultural issues after participating in such programs. Young people can express, explain and help live their way of life when they try to accommodate themselves at such meetings. It is important that people open up and frankly educate others about their backgrounds whiles learning about others. A further step could be taken to have young people do exchange travels where they actually live the cultural change, go through cultural shocks and emerge with appreciation of that culture.
Intercultural communication skills need to be built to help reduce and eliminate barriers and limitations in intercultural dialogue and collaborations. Basic communication skills are used by all cultures in diverse ways. It is good to start by positively receiving cross cultural knowledge by familiarization with cultural characteristics, values, beliefs and behaviours and then learn to change or adjust your behavior by being open-minded and tolerant. By doing this, you become sensitive to the different culture and attach the right meaning and action to different cultural situations. Building these skills make one easily integrate with others and effectively work together for much more greater results.