The Pros And Cons Of Cultural Exchange Programs

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Today’s world is full of prejudices and stereotypes. While much of that is inherently baked into the laws of our society, we could change some of the misguided perceptions we have about people if we simply got to know them. By traveling, people may become more creative and adaptable in addition to gaining valuable insight into the lives of the other side. As the world becomes more technologically advanced, more resources become available for providing ways of travel to foreign places. There is a need for more meaningful interactions between peoples, which provide advantages for all parties exchanged in cultural discussion. As the process of globalization allows for greater levels of travel and immersion, organizations such as the JET Program…show more content…
The issue is, how do we get there? Travel is still a budgetary issue for many people, although it is significantly less expensive than one might expect. (example here?) Luckily, there are many organizations for studying abroad available to college students, but those programs usually only last for a couple of months and are exclusive to schools. Governments can gain from implementing cultural exchange programs into their countries, and not just from a viewpoint of gaining ideas and happiness. An excellent model for this is the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (or JET Program), which is legitimately sponsored by ministries of Japan. The JET Program recruits American adults with at least a bachelor’s degree to teach English in Japanese schools. The schools gain teachers with a intimate, native knowledge of English to teach accurately, and the Americans get jobs and homes abroad in a country they have an interest in. Looking at the eligibility criteria on the JET Program website, we can see signs that the program is focused on immersion, and not just looking for randos who speak English. First of all, applicants are not required to speak Japanese, but must make an effort to study the language prior to and after being placed in the program. They must also want to maintain relations with Japan after completion (JET). This is a cultural exchange program. American teachers will bring their thoughts and…show more content…
As countries become more globalized and build tourism industries, are they at a risk of losing the authenticity of their actual cultures in favor of creating a more palatable version for visitors? We can certainly see this start to happen as corporations like McDonald's and Disney expand their franchises and build new restaurants and theme parks. This is why immersion is more important than simply traveling. People need to make real connections and have diverse experiences. At their hearts, organizations need to recognize these problems and combat homogeneity. Using the JET Program as an example again, we can see that it is indeed devoted to exchange and not conversion. Participants are required to not have lived in Japan for at least a decade prior to departure, and there is a five year limit on how long applicants may serve in the program(JET). This is because the program is not recruiting for immigrants but is looking for a constant flow of ideas between countries. It is a guarantee that every five years, there will always be new bodies with new perspectives and beliefs to contribute, and that those who have learned from their time with JET will leave and share their teachings elsewhere. Sure, this might bring the two cultures closer together, but it also ensures that new concepts are always being introduced to each side. The aim of cultural immersion is not conversion, but

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