Embracing ethnic differences key to multicultural society

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    In today’s world of travel, cultural pluralism is everywhere. The world is truly a small place. The number of different ethnic groups present in countries and communities today is amazing compared to 50 years ago – take TCU for example. America is the least nativistic country in the world. A poll in 2000 indicated that 10.4 percent of the U.S. population is foreign-born. So it’s not a surprise TCU has more than 7,000 students enrolled and just more than a quarter are international students. Yet while our world is becoming so closely-knit culturally, we’re in the face of a global epidemic that’s engulfing our livelihood – hatred and bloodshed. Why is this? Is it racially motivated? Is it ignorance? Is it culture shock?

    As a Sri Lankan I can testify that the hatred and bloodshed is what’s tearing my country part. Sri Lanka is currently experiencing a civil war that has been raging for more than 20 years between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and the government. In that period more than 64,000 lives have been lost simply because of the LTTE’s need for a separate state within the country. What many people don’t know is every time you switch on the TV and hear of another suicide bombing in Iraq or a convoy bombing in Sierra Leone, it spawned from the concept of suicidal bombings that were first initiated by the LTTE to gain their political objectives.

    It first began in 1983 where child soldiers and women were recruited into the force, and women strapped on the explosives to make them appear pregnant and avoid being frisked. However the harsh reality is that today, pregnant women are being recruited and being trained to carry out suicidal operations. This is an example of the bloody dangers that separatism creates in a country’s economy – uncertainty and fear.

    Can TCU do more than organize fundraisers and programs that are generally focused on Darfur? How can we as TCU students do more to help the global community?

    What’s ironic is not the centrifugal forces that create friction between nations but the centripetal factors that bond the world. It’s nothing to do with politics or advanced technology, but everyday things that we incorporate into our lives. Call it culture rocks. Football (or soccer) is watched by millions of viewers around the world. While a red card in the game may be a bad connotation in Italy, it symbolizes good luck in China. In the Western World black is worn to show respect to the deceased, while white is the color used to represent mourning in South Asia.

    Religion is another factor that unites the world. There are currently 2 billion people who follow Christianity, while Islam – the fastest growing religion – is reported to have 1.2 billion followers. At TCU both the Catholic Community and the Muslim Student Association are working hard to get students involved in various activities. Next month the Catholic Community is organizing TCU Awakening XI, while MSA is currently organizing Fast-a-thon in celebration of the Holy month of Ramadan. So despite ethnic and cultural differences, how can we make the world revolve around less on culture shock and live our lives around the beauty of “culture rocks?” How can we as an international TCU community help those who need to help themselves and no matter how big or small to make the world a better place. As Ghandhi said it best, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

    DJ Perera is a sophomore studio arts major from Moratuwa, Sri Lanka.