Last summer I studied Korean in South Korea. I learned a lot. Language, culture, and especially
about cultural ignorance. When I found out that I had the opportunity to study in Korea, I was
ecstatic. And I received a multitude of questions. Things like “Is there even Wifi in South
Korea?”, ”Are you going to be able to drink the water?”, ”Wait, so which one will you be in?
North or South?”. You may think that these are simply jokes, but I received every last one of
these questions from peers and adults alike. One of the biggest social problems for Americans
in 2016, is cultural ignorance. And this issue isn't just prevalent in my own experiences. From a
National Geographic survey of 500 young Americans ages 18-24, only 23% could label Iraq,
Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Israel on a map. The middle East has played and still continues to play
a major role in American news and yet many Americans are just unknowledgeable on the
subject. International affairs affect us all. Whether it be getting involved in a war or economic
relations, how America acts on the foreign field has an effect on our lives. We as a society need
to make this rising issue of cultural ignorance more of a priority in our lives. Today we’ll look at
the causes of cultural ignorance, the lasting effects on society because of it, and the solutions
we can instill in order to combat cultural ignorance.
The two main reasons for why cultural ignorance hasn't changed in America, directly results
from the unimportance of learning about cultures in school and the fact that most culturally
ignorant people haven’t had any interactions with the very culture they are ignorant towards.
According to NeaToday.org, across the nation, the testing obsession has nudged aside... social
studies and not to mention world languages” Because many universities don’t require 4 years of
social studies or foreign language instruction, the usual classes that would inform students on
other cultures and countries, aren't a priority for students. Thus, the never ending cycle of
cultural ignorance is furthered by students who never took a course on current events or
geography & culture. The fact that our society today cares more about math and sciences rather
than being a fully aware adult, is what's keeping us in the dark when it comes to the world. The
fact that a majority Americans haven’t had many interactions with foreign culture first hand can
also be credited for helping cause the cultural ignorance in America. As stated by the institute of
International Education, “a total of 304,467 (students) studied abroad for academic credit from
their U.S. colleges and universities (In 2014-2015)”. You could easily achieve this number of
students by adding together the 6 biggest schools in the U.S.. But these 6 schools are out of the
over 1,000 public and private institutions. Seeing that the number of students who attend
college every year is extraordinarily larger than the students studying abroad, showcases how...