InterExchange participants tour the New York Public Library.
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” – Mark Twain, Innocents Abroad, Chapter LXI
As one of the most diverse nations in the world, the United States offers countless opportunities for cultural exchange. The U.S. welcome millions of international visitors each year and, historically, people from all over the world have settled in this “melting pot” nation. For Americans working and volunteering abroad, cultural exchange introduces them to new friends, cultures and perspectives. By experiencing life in another country and interacting with its people, we can gain a mutual understanding of the world outside our door.
The Importance of Cultural Exchange
Cultural exchange allows travelers to learn about the countries and cultures they're visiting, while also sharing their own traditions and points of view. By meeting people and having new experiences, we can strengthen our ties to other nations and cultures and encourage respect, cooperation and appreciation for those who may be different from us. As our world becomes more connected, international cooperation and understanding are critical not only for governments working toward the goal of successful diplomacy, but also to individuals of the world seeking to create meaningful global relationships.
Thoughts on Travel and Cultural Exchange
Wise words of some classic authors and philosophers help sum up the many benefits of travel and cultural exchange. And don’t forget to browse our list of favorite American books in our Top Cultural Picks area of Cultural Compass!
“…nothing so liberalizes a man and expands the kindly instincts that nature put in him as travel and contact with many kinds of people.” – Mark Twain, Letter to San Francisco Alta California, dated May 18th, 1867; published June 23, 1867
“One’s destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things.” – Henry Miller, American author and playwright, from Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch,
“Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard, Realism in Romantic Japan
“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” – Lao Tzu, Chinese philosopher
"A traveler without observation is a bird without wings." – Moslih Eddin Saadi, Persian poet
"Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind." – Seneca, Roman philosopher