The key benefits of multiculturalism

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In essence, multiculturalism is the integration of individuals from numerous cultures, races, and ethnic backgrounds into a society that functions efficiently as a whole.

Saint John Newcomers Centre/Twitter

Multiculturalism is an important component of society itself. In order to have a well-functioning society, it is important to have individuals of various cultures, as each individual brings forth their own condensed map of the world and what makes it revolve. The more such maps one has in their possession, the greater their sense of direction in navigating the world.

Each map has its unique strengths: some maps may have a well-defined legend, while other maps have demarcated paths between key locations. Following this analogy, once you have access to more such maps, your pathway to success becomes clearer, especially when it comes to fields related to business.

Indeed, both students and professionals should leverage the current state of multiculturalism in Saint John to enhance not only their quality of work but their quality of life as well.

Having laid down the idea of multiculturalism as an all-important tool in strengthening one’s career and personal life, this article subsequently sets out to elaborate upon the numerous benefits of multiculturalism, both on a personal and social level. This is especially relevant in a city like Saint John.

Enhanced understanding of conflict resolution

Conflict often arises due to the lack of a common denominator between two people’s beliefs or perspectives. These perspectives are often attributed to different cultures. It is not far-fetched to state that conflict is often the yield of two colliding views.  Thus, to resolve conflict, it is cardinal to understand other perspectives with thorough clarity. This will involve carrying out an intellectual analysis of the opposing perspective, to find a common denominator.

Alex Graham/Country 94.1

With enough work, it is possible to identify a common denominator between what might appear to be two completely different perspectives. Quite often, the common denominator ends up being “utility”, which in economic terms, refers to deriving value from a good, service, or situation. Perhaps, one of the best ways to avoid conflict altogether is by proactively learning about different perspectives; this is where multiculturalism comes in. With multiculturalism already present, one learns the ins and outs of multiple different cultures, thus reducing conflict.

The key takeaway from this point is the need to engage with individuals of different cultures. Doing so will broaden one’s understanding of the world in general.

Greater Creativity

Creativity and innovation are fundamental elements, required for the functioning of society, both at a micro and macro level. It is often said that there are three major sources of creativity. The first involves creating something new. The second involves combining two things that already exist. And the third involves improving something (e.g a product) which already exists.

When a person is subjected to multiculturalism, they gain knowledge of more of these products. For instance, a particular country “X” may have a certain way it produces student textbooks in general. Another country “Y” may write textbooks in another way. Each method has its own benefits. For example, country “X” may produce books that facilitate a critical understanding of the material. On the other hand, Country Y may produce textbooks that make it easy for students to memorize material.

By combining these two advantages, an entrepreneur has engaged in innovation: they have created a new value proposition. This would not have been possible without a cross-understanding of both countries’ modus operandi.

Discover Saint John/Website

Borrowing tricks from another person’s playbook

In relation to the above point, it is possible to borrow tricks from another person’s playbook. Essentially, this phrase refers to the act of selecting another person’s best qualities/ strategies and replicating them. A good illustration is that of a student at UNBSJ. As a university student, you may have a friend from another country with certain study habits and techniques. You may notice that they perform very well in a given subject. Replicating their success may be a simple matter of borrowing their study habits. Again, this relates back to the point of multiculturalism being an important source of inspiration.

Woven Cultures of New Brunswick/Facebook

Strengthened encyclopedic knowledge

Another benefit of multiculturalism lies in the concept of encyclopedic knowledge. With the advent of social media, and the possibility to research practically anything online with a few clicks, it seems many people are neglecting the importance of encyclopedic knowledge. Encyclopedic knowledge basically refers to a knowledge of diverse subjects, ranging from classical music to fine arts, and scientific discoveries. Different countries have produced their own world-renowned change-makers and innovators in many respective fields. By engaging with people from different countries, one gets to learn about changemakers from across the globe. This might inspire them to spark a change in their own community.

Multicultural Mural
Tammy Pilon/Flickr

Opportunity to learn new languages

In a similar light, multiculturalism presents the opportunity to learn different languages. Language is a key element in the understanding of the world at large. If you have a friend or colleague who speaks a different language, it would be well advised to acquire at least a few keywords from the language, as well as a few key philosophies. Learning new languages also broadens one’s career options and opens up their future to many possibilities. In turn, they can provide value for their society in many ways, such as by volunteering for organizations like the Saint John Newcomers center, which is a non-profit, dedicated to helping newcomers immerse themselves in the Saint John culture. Here is a link to the Saint John Newcomers centre.

A more powerful social network

Another key benefit of multiculturalism is the creation of a stronger social network. This is particularly useful for business ventures but can be applied to life in general. Connecting with students from different backgrounds strengthens your circle. If you are a creative writer, you can gain new inspiration by interacting with friends from different backgrounds. Similarly, if you seek to travel or settle overseas in the near future, interacting with international students may provide you with key information regarding how to integrate yourself into different cultures.

Opportunity to engage in international business ventures

In relation to the business field, forging connections with people of different nationalities gives you firsthand knowledge of different markets. You gain information on a personal level, which you might not have been able to acquire from a textbook. With firsthand information on the business habits of these countries, the process of setting up a business that exports internationally is greatly simplified

A more educated city

On a societal level, multiculturalism gives rise to a more educated city. Education in a traditional sense often refers to the understanding of theories. However, being educated also involves knowing how to interact with different people. People from other countries bring different ways of achieving results, diverse ideas, and different philosophies. In a way, different cultures are like different books. Thus, more books signify a larger pool of knowledge for each reader to draw from. This widens the city’s potential by giving each member access to a rich library of information pertaining to a wide range of concepts from business ethics and politics to literature and music.

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A more ambitious City

A more educated city is a more ambitious city. With a wide source of inspiration to draw from, young leaders and entrepreneurs step into the world with an open mind, and an array of different methods to tackle problems. Likewise, having interacted with many different cultures, one’s interpersonal skills are greatly enhanced, thus enabling one to communicate more clearly.

By and large, multiculturalism paves the way to the enhanced functioning of society, both at a personal, and individual level. On a personal level, it achieves this by providing opportunities that would otherwise not be available such as firsthand knowledge of different markets, a deeper understanding of different perspectives, and the chance to learn different methods to achieve results. A theoretical understanding of society is important but is incomplete without a practical, firsthand understanding of the world around us. On a grander scale, multiculturalism can be considered the antidote to conflict and poor societal relations. The reason being, it is better to take the initiative in multicultural understanding, than react to the pernicious effect of intercultural conflict.

Mutale Mubanga is a 4th year BBA Digital Business student. In addition, he is minoring in French Communication. Coming from Zambian, he enjoys meeting people of different nationalities and cultures. Also, he strongly believes in the concept of growth mindset; that it is possible for anyone to learn anything given enough time and practice. His favourite place to study is the Commons, because of its serene and calm feel. When not studying, you will find him drinking water to remain hydrated.