Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Go find out

I've been reading American news and political commentary extensively since April, 2004. I have come to the conclusion that most Americans, even those with an active interest in current events, have not a clue what the rest of the world is like, how their own country differs from the rest of the world, and what is good and bad about their own culture and system of government. Not a clue.

Here in Canada, we are a bit more open to outside influences -- we have to be -- but many of us are still woefully ignorant. We are bombarded by material from the USA, but often our understanding of what the United States is really like and how it differs from Canada does not go far beyond laughable cliches (they are a melting pot and we aren't, for instance). As for the rest of the world, we often see it through the lens of the American media, a dangerous state of affairs.

This is addressed to my students and any other young Canadians who might be reading. The single most valuable thing you can do at this stage of your life, other circumstances permitting, is to go live somewhere else for a year, a term, a season. I think highly of the education you can get at NU, but the education of living abroad is more important. (We do have an exchange student program -- look into it). It would be a valuable education to go to the United States for a while. It might be even better to go someplace else.

If you can't manage a foreign expedition, here's an easier alternative: go live and work in some dramatically different part of Canada for a while. This is particularly important if you are from Ontario and like many Ontarians haven't really been anywhere else in the country. Your fellow Canadians have been trying to tell you this for nearly a century and a half. Go find out.


Blogger b0131944 said...

You couldn't be more right. I did a single-semester exchange in 2000 to France, and I'm halfway through a full-year stay in England. NU is great, but anybody who can should consider a year abroad. Those who can't ought to start by reading foreign news sources. The CNN-lens is a joke by comparison.

7:13 AM  

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