Why Education as a Tool for Empathy?

Albert Einstien once said, “Empathy for a new culture can only be achieve by learning the culture’s native tongue and living, studying, or working for at least one year in the new culture.”

Education plays a crucial role in shaping an individual’s perspectives and attitudes toward a foreign culture. Through education, individuals can learn about different cultures’ traditions, practices, and world views. This can increase a student’s understanding and appreciation of diversity. In turn, this increased understanding can lead to greater empathy towards the newfound culture. This separates the idea of “diversity for diversity’s sake” with the reality that true and competent diversity can create synergy.

One way that education can increase empathy towards a foreign culture is by exposing students to diverse perspectives and experiences. This cannot happen in a singular classroom environment. This must be achieved through intercultural education. I have witnessed first hand many Doctoral students in International Affairs programs or Intermational Conflict Management programs who have never set foot on foreign soil. These students have zero empathy for their chosen topics. This does not create unity.

By learning about while living in different ways of life, values, and beliefs of people from other cultures, students can begin to understand and appreciate the complexity and richness of these cultures. This exposure can also help breakd own stereotypes and prejudices that students may have towards foreign cultures, leading to greater empathy and understanding. This is beyond book knowledge. We are creating cultural wisdom.

Another way that education can increase empathy is by encouraging students to engage in cross-cultural experiences. They can interact to understand how their home culture can work with their new culture. This first-hand knowledge of the challenges and joys of living in and with a new culture can lead to greater empathy, understanding, and a willing desire to interact in business and government affairs.

Our students don’t read about new cultures. They live in them. They breath them. They become them. This is how we “Unite the Americas One Student at a Time!”

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