Kofi Annan, the former Secretary-General of the United Nations, once said:
“People of different religions and cultures live side by side in almost every part of the world, and most of us have overlapping identities which unite us with very different groups. We can love what we are, without hating what – and who – we are not. We can thrive in our own tradition, even as we learn from others, and come to respect their teachings.”
I could not agree more with Mr. Annan. I believe cultural differences are some of the most beautiful and interesting things about our world, and they are my favorite things to learn about and explore. I love living in our diverse world in which we are so blessed to have the opportunities that we do to encounter and interact with people from different cultures*. Even if you yourself have not travelled that much, I am certain that everyone has met someone from a different culture before, and hopefully taken the chance to learn something from that person.
Since not everyone can be as fortunate as I have been to live in the wonderful country of Colombia, I intend to use my blog to share some of my cultural observations with you. Perhaps you may even notice some “overlapping identities,” as Mr. Annan says, that unite aspects of your culture with aspects of Colombian culture. So if you are interested, Dear Reader, please read on.
*I must make a disclaimer here about the word “culture.” Culture is a very broad term that many anthropologists have attempted to define, and which nearly always results in controversy. Any dictionary you look in will offer various definitions. One that I like, from dictionary.com, says that culture is “the attitudes, feelings, values, and behavior that characterize and inform society as a whole or any social group within it.” Basically I just want to make it clear that when writing about the culture of Colombia, or of any other place, these are merely my observations and thoughts, and you are welcome to disagree. There are of course exceptions to the generalizations I make, which I happily acknowledge, but I will do my best to present an accurate picture of what I have observed.