The world is in the grips of a major shift in the realm of politics.  From laughable leadership to pitiful tales of people being sidelined in the aim of achieving diplomatic clout. There is nothing that seems off-limits. Increasingly we are witnessing scenes that resemble something taken from a primary school playground, where little children are ready to take non-issues to escalated levels simply because they lack an understanding of perspectives. Whilst this may be excusable in the playground, it is scary to see it unfolding on a political stage where so much is at stake.

Many arguments erupt because we lack an understanding of how to empathise with or understand the other person’s point of view.

Unfortunately, this seems to be an all too common problem in the adult world. Without understanding, it is extremely easy to judge, misunderstand and jump to conclusions. It needn’t be this way. Not when understanding can come as easily as sitting across the table and having a chat with someone.

During a recent video chat activity conducted on International Day of Friendship with the Embassy of Georgia in New Delhi, one young student from a school in Mumbai asked a pertinent question: How can we end wars? To this, a delegate from the embassy, Mr Rati Asatiani answered, “We need dialogue and cultural understanding”.

If the recent International Day of Friendship taught us anything, it’s this – gaining an awareness and understanding of different cultures and working to embrace these differences can end wars.

Embassy of Georgia

For #InternationalFriendshipDay, sixth-graders from Rustomjee Cambridge International School & Jr. College in Mumbai, wrote letters to embassies of different countries talking of friendship between people of different cultures. Delighted by this gesture of the children, Mr. Rati Asatiani, Special Assistant to the Ambassador at the Embassy of Georgia in New Delhi decided he wanted to get to know them better and accepted their invitation for a #ClapTalk!#TravellersInClassrooms #ClapGlobal #NewFriendships #NewWaveInEducationAndTravel #CulturalDiversity

Posted by Clap Global on Tuesday, August 7, 2018

This is where Clap Global – Travellers in Classrooms can really contribute to a more peaceful world. We enable cultural dialogue between international travellers and students during 75-minute conversations called Clap Talks.

Here, the traveller visits a local classroom and shares stories about their life, family, work and culture and together with the students they ask each other questions, express opinions and perspectives on topics ranging from human rights and freedom, gender inequality, environment, history and innovation. In a mutual learning process, the traveller also gains a unique insight into the lives of children in another country, enriching their travel experience and own global competency. Even a simple interaction such as this helps bridge cultural gaps, dispel socio-cultural stereotypes and has the potential to influence how a whole classroom full of kids perceives a country and its people.

Before a recent Clap Talk where traveller Lucy from the UK met with a classroom full of higher learning students in Mumbai, students were asked what they knew about the UK. Their responses included, “the citizens face no problems”, “they ruled us” and “everyone there is rich.” During the Clap Talk, Lucy and the students discussed topics such as gender, social class, religion, colonisation, mental health and identity and shared their thoughts as individuals coming from different countries and different perspectives. After the Clap Talk, the students were again asked what they knew about the UK. Their responses included, “India is still developing but it can teach developed countries things like being resourceful and valuing community”, “the thinking that I have that only India faces problems like poverty and gender discrimination in wrong” and “I would like to support India’s young criminals like the UK does.” It’s impossible to deny the lasting impact of dialogue.

If we want to see peace, we must prepare for peace. Taking the trouble to get to know each other is an essential part of this. If you’ve eaten at the same table with someone, or compared notes on how annoying yet wonderful younger siblings can be, it becomes easier to empathise with them and harder to fight them. By exposing children to different cultures, people and ways of life, we can teach our children to choose compassion over judgement and collaboration over competition. So, would you like to play a part in building a world of dialogue? Join us.

This article was written by Clap Global’s Co-founders Aarti and Shirin and was first published by Delhi Post. The original article can be read here

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