Why do the Swiss yodel?

Now a musical tradition, yodeling was once often used to communicate across distances in mountainous regions.

Why are Americans such gun nuts?

The US Constitution designated the “right of the people to keep and bear Arms” an inalienable right – one reason why the gun culture in America is unlike anywhere else.

Why are Kenyans so group-orientated?

Kenyans are historically tribal. Harambee, derived from the Bantu for “to pull together,” is alive in all ethnic groups of Kenya, emphasizing mutual responsibility and assistance.

Why do the Japanese bow?

Politeness is so important to Japanese culture and etiquette that bowing is taught from an early age. The act dates back to antiquity and demonstrates respect.

These examples illustrate that layers of history contribute to the present nature of any people. Whether Swiss, American, Kenyan, Japanese, Peruvian, Turkish, Australian – you get the idea – past determines the present.

What Will You Learn?

Like religion, history will help you understand the rationale behind various behaviors, norms, and ideologies of a culture.

The “why”s listed above can often be answered in historical context. In order to accept, adapt, or adopt cultural differences, an education in your host’s history will inform your integration.

How Do You Learn History?

When you’re learning the history of a nation, learn that history from at least two places: the host country and your own.

History is often subjective. The way one country views a specific event may not be the way their neighbor does…or the way your home country does. Learning about how a nation interprets and teaches its own history will help you understand the perspective its culture holds and its underlying politics.

In addition to this, learning how others view that country’s history will likely give you a more objective picture. “Facts” may vary across cultures, and they may be contradictory. It’s unlikely that you’ll find his story is the correct telling of everyone’s story.

As with everything historical, cultural, or religious, the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle.

Why Learn a Country’s History?

History and culture are symbiotic. History creates culture, and culture creates history. In this way, knowing a nation’s history will help you understand the DNA of the culture and what makes it tick.

Additionally, as with learning your host country’s language and religion, learning its history will demonstrate your interest in and respect for your hosts.

Tune in next week to learn more about sharing in action.

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