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Comment: Cultural Exchanges Enhance Nation’s Image.

Nations cannot exist in isolation. People need to intermingle to learn and share their knowledge and experiences. Chinese visit America to enrich themselves and vice versa. Americans are always curious to know about lifestyles in a communist country, and a visit to China proves to be quite a memorable experience. Similarly, citizens of other countries would like to see what living conditions exist in other nations in order to improve their lot.

It is a worldwide phenomenon for countries to send a group of people as part of their cultural exchange program. The purpose is not merely to socialize with citizens of other nations, but also to acquire knowledge to shape the future destiny of their respective country. Diplomatic ties are maintained through cultural exchange programs. Why have such visits? After all, the taxpayers’ money is involved. The government has to incur extra expenditures on such international activities. Let us try to understand why cultural exchange programs are essential.

Why Should a Country have Cultural Exchange Programs?

  • Bilateral exchange programs in arts and culture help nations to better appreciate each other’s cultural nuances.
  • Cultural exchange programs can narrow down any hostility existing between nations.
  • Friendly ties are promoted through sports, music, and fine arts.
  • A deeper understanding of a nation’s cultural ethos is possible and its problems can be better understood.
  • International military disputes can be overcome through cultural pursuits.
  • Exchange programs in health issues enable countries to maximize their respective resources. Medical personnel can share their expertise with nations that are economically poor.
  • Voluntary services can be provided during war time.
  • Peaceful co-existence between nations can be promoted.
  • The tarnished image of a country can be restored.
  • Communication barriers can be reduced.

Such are the benefits of having cultural exchange programs. The U.S image, for example, has suffered a setback of late due to the economic meltdown. The newly elected US president has to restore the country’simage. Apart from carrying out local economic reforms, he has to also ensure that other nations still continue to have faith in the US economy. To achieve this, cultural exchange programs can be used as diplomatic tools to reassure citizens elsewhere that all is well in the US, and they can continue to depend upon it for their trade, commerce, and other official activities.

On such visits, the views and perceptions of a government are voiced. It also shows a feeling of camaraderie that exists between nations. Even the youth participate on such occasions and this feeling of togetherness is instilled at an early stage in one’s life.

World tensions are building. Terrorism is gaining ground. Countries are suspicious of each other. To ensure smooth relationships between nations under such uncertain conditions, strengthening of cultural ties is essential. In sports also, many exchanges take place. Cricket is a popular game played all over the world, and cricket teams visit other countries. Dance troops also visit and renowned musicians portray culture of their respective countries in a splendid way.

The Olympics is an event when all nations come together and display spirit of sportsmanship. In 2008, it was held in Beijing, China and was a grand affair. Ideological barriers were overcome and enmities set aside. A spirit of friendship and cooperation prevailed. This is hoped to be true with the 2012 Olympics in London as well.

Through cultural ties, nations can come together. Wars, border disputes, and terrorism may well continue to tarnish the image of a country, but through cultural exchange programs these differences can be overcome to a great extent.

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