We’re told that the world is becoming smaller, that we need to understand other cultures better, we need to travel, become more tolerant, respect differences, celebrate diversity, etc. So, shouldn’t we all feel closer and be nicer to each other?
You’d think so, but every day we also learn that individuals, societies and some countries show complete intolerance towards one another and even some people in their own societies. It seems like a huge contradiction! We’re supposed to be working for the greater good; to become closer and live peacefully amongst one another, but sometimes it feels like people couldn’t be further apart. So, what’s the big deal with all of this global, international stuff and why do we have to care about it?
Great question! My answer is simple; because we all have to live in this place (the world) and this place is indeed becoming smaller. Technology makes it possible for us to have a discussion during breakfast on our iPhone with someone thousands of miles away in another country and feel as close, if not closer, to that person then the person sitting next to us at the table. Microsoft, Amazon, Boeing all have hired professionals from other countries who have come to Washington to make it their home. Their talent is combined with domestic employees to make the companies international power houses.
When is the last time you found something to wear that was ‘made in the USA’? Not too long ago, it would have been ‘exotic’ to wear something from another country. Many of our foods come from other countries; fruits from Mexico and Central America, Australian beef, ‘biscuits’ from Europe, rice from Asia and India. Not to mention cars from Europe and Asia. The list goes on and on. Even television ads and promotions have British sales reps; famous Geico insurance and Dyson vacuums, just to name a couple.
Annual Celebration of Flags ceremony at Peninsula College
Here at Peninsula College, we have wonderful opportunities to engage with people from other cultures and practice our intercultural skills. We have opportunities to travel abroad for study and personal enrichment. You don’t need to leave the area to engage globally. The world becomes more secure and more peaceful through the efforts of individuals who influence institutions and governments. It is my hope that we will eventually see a dedicated Peace Institute here at Peninsula College that incorporates the spirit of peace and tolerance we enjoy at PC. To be able to use our beautiful and tranquil setting to invite and instruct others in peaceful dialogue would add to what make us special. Thinking globally can begin locally. Still nervous about all things international? If you want to test the water without getting too crazy or going to great expense, simply jump the boat to Victoria, British Columbia! It’s only an hour and a half away. How lucky are we to live in a state that borders another country!
It can no longer be ignored. Shakespeare said it perfectly, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” If you aren’t ‘thinking internationally’ and understanding that the world has become a global theater where the actors work together to succeed, then you’ve missed the point altogether. The fact is this and it won’t go away…technology and circumstances have brought us all together on the same global playing field, so we have to learn to play nicely with each other or we’ll be penalized and kicked off the team. The more we fight or go against the tide, the more frustrated we’ll become creating situations that make it less likely to live peacefully amongst one another; in other words, making it impossible to ‘live in this place’ in a way that makes us feel happy and secure. And that is in no one’s best interest. As Mahatma Ghandi said, “Peace is its own reward.”
When Sophia Iliakis Doherty returned from her first trip overseas at the age of 10 with her parents to her father’s homeland on the Island of Crete in Greece, she already decided that her future was going to be focused on an international career involving travel. She continued on this path when she studied in Florence, Italy with Gonzaga University, her alma mater, in order to become equally appreciative of her mother’s homeland. She further developed her international persona by marrying a strapping lad from the Celtic world; more specifically from Ireland. In between these huge intercultural integrations within her personal life, Sophia laid ground, rather a jet stream, to travel to almost every continent in an effort to promote what she feels is most important; a global perspective to encourage international understanding between peoples.
For more on Sophia’s study of dialogue as a means of peacebuilding in Derry, Northern Ireland, visit her blog: http://bit.ly/1ZYQF7P .
Cover Photo: Reconciliation/Hands Across the Divide Statue in Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland