Intercultural Extraneity

America is the land of rapid changes

…says Pupin in his From Immigrant to Inventor after returning to Budapest and realizing that nothing changed there, and I agree. A land that started from scratch and became a dream country for many lost souls, a country which developed such a complex and vivid culture in only 6 centuries must be described not only as a land of rapid but effective changes, too.

Times change, how often do we hear that phrase? Too often, I would say. However, we can’t deny the truthfulness of some expressions just because they fall under the category of clichés. That said, this one is undoubtedly true. Everything’s progressing, but how rapid those changes are, and can we notice them? In the paragraphs to follow, it will be argued and described how America is rapidly changing.

To begin with, America as a country is extremely young. Even if Native Americans inhabited the continent long before Columbus, the country and nation, that we know today, started developing only after the 15th century. Many saw this new country as an opportunity for a better life and started their over-Atlantic journey. It resulted in a mosaic made of people of various ethnicities, languages and cultures. That new mosaic developed its own culture, customs, way of life. In his work, People Like Us Do Things Like Us Seth Godin says: “We can’t change the culture, but each of us has the opportunity to change a culture, our little pocket of the world.” He argues that there is no universal culture and that we cannot be part of every single one. Instead, we have to focus on changing the ones we surround ourselves with. He provides many cases which confirm his theory. One of them is Harlem Village Academy. In this academy students read 52 books annually. They all do so because this is understood as the requirement in the school. Since this was developed as a culture the students are fulfilling the task without much trouble. The other case- Robin Hood Foundation shows us the importance of peer pressure. 101 million dollars was raised in a single night because of a few anonymous gift donations which made people donate more money than ever before.

On the other hand, the influences we have on those cultures can be negative, too. In the article by James Hankins the problem of “university politicization” is highlighted. The majority of professors at universities have become so politicized over a short period of time that many students do not want to speak their minds out of fear. “University administrators show an alarming authoritarianism… all this contributes to a propensity among students to keep their mouths, and their minds, firmly shut.” says Hankins. Many courses have been canceled and even if they have not, the professors teaching those courses do not want to hear students’ opinions but they want their students to say what they want to hear. In this case, the change of the culture is negative. However, not everything is so dark. He adds that because of this, many offshore institutions in which students can develop their critical thinking are rapidly being formed. Even if they are not official university institutions they offer their support and guide you which courses to take and which professors to talk to if you are interested in philosophy, philology, or any other humanitarian science. The author believes that these institutions are not a permanent solution and that the only long-lasting solution would be for “the government to take action in defense of classical liberal values.”

We often hear that America is a country of diversity, too. Even if that is true, we must bear in mind that in the diversity pool someone still makes the majority. Even if there are many different races, religions, genders present in America, their existence doesn’t guarantee them equality. Graham explains the term Orthodox privilege. The author says that the more conventional our thinking is, the safer it is for us to express it and that if we fall under the category of the privileged ones we are less likely to understand what it’s like on the other side. As long as there are people aware of these privileges and ready to do something about them, the solution cannot be far away.

The 21st century is the century of changes. Even if we are small puzzle pieces in this life, we can determine what our lives will look like, only if we are brave enough to influence them. And the countries will rapidly progress only if their citizens are ready to progress, and by no means this essay proved that Americans are not only ready but willing to do so.
I hereby confirm that this work is solely the result of my own independent scholarly work and that if any ideas, text passages, or diagrams from books, papers, the Web, or other sources have been copied, paraphrased, or in any other way used, all references – including those found in electronic media – have been clearly acknowledged and fully cited.
1. Godin S. People Like Us Do Things Like This
2. Graham P. Orthodox Privilege
3. Hankins J. Offshore Core
4. Pupin M. From Immigrant to Inventor

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