Three ways studying abroad can help promote world peace

You might not know it, but 21 September is known as International Peace Day. The day was first celebrated in 1982, and is meant to promote the concept of peace throughout the world. Many countries and organizations, including the United Nations, observe this day. You don’t have to study Intercultural Communication or International and Economic Relations to contribute to world peace. Here are three ways studying abroad can help spread the message of peace.

Learn from a different perspective

Ever hear the adage “History is written by the winners”? The same can be said about education in general. If you grew up in the United States, there’s a big chance that when you first learned about Thanksgiving, it was represented as a peaceful gathering of pilgrims and Native Americans getting over their differences and sharing a delicious meal. The Native Americans might have a different perspective on that story.

 

When you study abroad, you’re not getting the same education you would in your home country. You’re learning from the perspective of your host country, and that perspective could be very different. Learning about those different perspectives can speak to the roots of our national identities and help our understanding of others on an international level. Afterall, it’s always a good idea to learn that your country is not the center of the universe.

Immerse yourself in a new culture

One of the most rewarding experiences of study abroad programs is your opportunity to immerse yourself in a different culture. While this might not seem like it’s connected to world peace, it is. Many international conflicts stem from a general lack of understanding about the cultures of the countries involved. What could seem backward or rude to some countries might appear docile or respectful to others.

When you study abroad, you are surrounded by the culture of your host country. What many international students will tell you is that adopting these new norms can be quite easy once you get over the initial strangeness. After you’ve had this experience, it’s a lot easier to discourage stereotypes because you’ve been in the shoes of those people. Ridding your mind of these prejudices plays a big role in maintaining respect for people from different countries.

Make relationships with international students

While your study abroad program is only temporary, the friends you make will last you a lifetime. These friends will come from around the globe, and sometimes from countries in crisis. When you can put a human face to any crisis, the weight of conflict becomes much more personal. It’s harder to demonize a particular group of people when you can relate to them. Study abroad programs help forge this bond behind people of different backgrounds, ultimately making these students more empathetic to those in strife.

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