by: michael eli dokosi /www.blakkpepper.com/ghana
There is no gain saying the fact that when man becomes stagnant or conversant with a particular venture he presumes he knows it all.
There is also a wise saying that when you haven’t ventured into another man’s farm you think yours is the largest, and oh there is the famous one “travel and see”. These sayings emphasize the point that there is something to be gained in traveling and broadening one’s horizon.
Intercultural exchanges have many enriching benefits for both participants and their respective countries, more so for us in Africa. Intercultural exchanges helps broaden participant’s outlook about life, it also helps in exposing people to new ways of life i.e. tasting new meals, drinks as well as getting acquainted with new customs and practices. There is also mutual respect, trust and love.
Two examples each of social benefits to individuals are that the individual can make new and lifelong friends and as a bonus there could be marriages as Dr Nkrumah amply demonstrated with his marriage to Fathia Ritz of another African country Egypt.
Again participants can learn new languages of visiting countries which can go a long way in making life meaningful, as well as picking up local techniques in herbal preparations.
In this age of wars, countries cannot afford to be islands hence the need for intercultural exchanges, which helps in reducing suspicion of each other and rather build trust.
Again architectural designs and housing plans for mass accommodation could be studied for implementation in home countries to reduce homelessness.
On the corporate front, countries stand to gain from cultural exchange as it helps to boost trade especially tourism, which helps to increase revenue and boost infrastructure.
Also there could be exchange of business ideas and formation of partnerships which could be lifelong and aid in generation of employment for the people.
The individuals also have some benefits, they can learn best practices from elsewhere making them more astute and which in turn helps reduce wastage.
Moreover, cultural exchange also benefits the individual in building networks which can aid in securing raw materials from a relatively cheaper source.
It should be noted that even though intercultural exchanges can come with some risk, illness, homesickness due to change in the environment as well as fear of the unknown, it is without doubt that intercultural exchanges provide both participants and the opportunity to meet new people, build lasting relationships, discover new grounds, experience new customs and practices, broaden one’s horizon, forge strong partnerships, as well as generally better and enrich one’s life.