Arts and Culture

Keeping an Open Mind


Staff Writer

   We humans tend to judge people and places through our narrow perceptions. While we do our best to look at all aspects of an issue, it is human nature to categorize ideas in a way we can better comprehend. Unfortunately, the result is that we sometimes put inaccurate and even offensive labels on other cultures.

   One example is the largest country in the world: Russia. While some people try to generalize the culture of this country, according to eighth grader Alexandra Sheiba, who is of Russian descent, Russia holds many diverse cultures that cannot be combined under one umbrella.

   “Even between the two main cities, Saint Petersburg and Moscow, there’s a huge difference and even a rivalry,” Sheiba said.

   Staying in Asia, we now move south to India, a country that suffers from its fair share of stereotypes. The problem with putting India into one category is that the country, like Russia, is culturally vast. Eighth grader Ayana Jassal agrees.

   “They have amazing sights and it’s so pretty, but some people can only see the fact that there are poor people” Jassal said.

   In the public perception, the negative aspects of a people or place sometimes drown out the positives, and India is a great example of that. Discussion of the country often revolves around its issues, such as poverty and inequality, while fewer people know that the country has the third highest GDP (“The World Factbook”) or  is the fastest growing large economy surpassing China (“The Economic Times”).

   Sometimes, time cannot even get rid of stereotypes. Let’s take Colombia for example. Ten to fifteen years ago, Colombia faced a serious drug-trafficking problem. In fact “The Guardian” states that one of its biggest cities, Medellin, was considered one of the most dangerous cities of that time. Although Colombia has significantly changed and is now one of the safest cities in Colombia according to “Viahero,” the false idea that the city is full of gangs and drug-trafficking remains in many people’s minds.

   Public perceptions of Russia, India, and Colombia are only a few examples of a widespread problem. The world is a big place, and there is so much opportunity for misinformation and generalization. It is important that we question our stereotypes and fact-check ourselves before making false assumptions about an entire nation. One just has to keep an open mind.