Preparation
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Lesson 2: Why is it important to know how to deal with cultural differences?

Lesson 2 Chapter 1

Your attitude towards others

Dealing appropriately with cultural differences is one of the most important things in volunteering abroad.

A lack of knowledge about other cultures is a common reason why volunteer work might fail to deliver positive results. 

Depending on your attitude towards cultural differences you can either reinforce stereotypes or create an opportunity to learn from each other.

Reinforcing stereotypes

By having a bad attitude towards cultural differences you might increase stigmatisation and reinforce stereotypes.


A bad attitude involves:

  • Being disrespectful to others
  • Making judgements about others
  • Talking or writing about the locals at your volunteer project in a disrespectful way. For example, saying that 'they are really lazy', or 'not smart'. It's not fair to do this, because you might not be aware of why people do what they do. 

Learning from each other

By having a good attitude towards cultural differences you can create opportunities for mutual learning. 


A good attitude involves: 

  • Learning from each others differences
  • Finding similarities
  • Respecting the values of others
  • Talking or writing about the locals in a positive way. Try to understand the locals and explain for example how they are trying very hard to achieve their goals.


Next lesson: What should I understand about cultural differences?


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