Home / In the Spotlight / Intercultural Summer Fun With Diversity Education


School’s out, and many young Americans are scrambling to pack their bags. It’s time for a new kind of education, inspired by travel. According to the Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization, “Youth travel is one of the fastest growing and most dynamic markets of the global tourism sector. UNWTO estimates that around 20% of the 940 million international tourists traveling the world in 2010 were young people.”

Through travel, we learn about other cultures, celebrating similarities and differences. But what do you do if you can’t travel due to financial or time restrictions? One thing is certain. You can still learn about other cultures right at home, and you can have a great time celebrating diversity education.

Understanding Diversity Could Change Your Life

“Peace is not unity in similarity but unity in diversity, in the comparison and conciliation of differences.” — Mikhail Gorbachev

So what’s the big deal with diversity education anyway? This is a key question that comes into play when teaching diversity lessons. Anyone who has had to opportunity and privilege to teach diversity knows that developing an appreciation for diversity opens a world, even as it shrinks it.

Identifying with others makes the the world a small place when it comes to making friends and working with others. However, it broadens experiences and opportunities.

Diversity Education During Summer Break

Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends. — Maya Angelou

While many organizations offer overseas learning experiences, it’s too late to sign up for that for this summer. This doesn’t mean one can’t learn about other cultures where they are.

All you have to do is check out some of the films highlighted on the Journeys in Film website and watch/study a film or two. This is a perfect activity for clubs, libraries or for those who want to broaden diversity lessons.

Having Fun With Other Cultures

“Cultural differences should not separate us from each other, but rather cultural diversity brings a collective strength that can benefit all of humanity.” — Robert Alan

The authors of the Journeys in Film curriculum know that the best way to learn about a topic is to enjoy the learning process. Diversity education isn’t “school take two.” It’s an opportunity for groups to gather, watch a film, discuss, and explore other cultures. You could do this by:

  • Cooking foods traditional to a country you highlight
  • Celebrating holidays of other countries
  • Comparing and contrasting lifestyles of children in other countries to local living
  • Reaching out via the Internet or mail to contact others in different countries
  • Creating a project to reach out and help others in need around the world

Consider gathering a group of friends and check out the offerings on the Journeys in Film website (http://www.journeysinfilm.org/support-our-work/). Many of the film-based lesson plans are free, as are “Notes for Teachers.” Even if you don’t have time to work through an entire curriculum, you can use it as a springboard for teaching cultural diversity.

As Pablo Casals points out, “The love of one’s country is a splendid thing. But why should love stop at the border?”