Cultural Exchange: Why it Matters

By Kelsey Holmes, Greenheart Club Program Assistant

“Simple exchanges can break down walls between us, for when people come together and speak to one another and share a common experience, then their common humanity is revealed.”                              —  United States President, Barack Obama

Cultural exchange is the heart of Greenheart’s mission.  By providing programs through Greenheart Travel and CCI Greenheart, members of the Greenheart community reach across (literal) borders to heighten their appreciation for other cultures and broaden their perspectives.  Branches of Greenheart like Greenheart Shop and Greenheart Transforms help us see how we can connect with each other and members of the global community.  Greenheart Club serves as a launching pad for these branches and a home where community members can share ideas, exchange culture, and connect.

A few months ago, Greenheart Club highlighted what cultural exchange means.  Now, we’re shifting our focus to why it matters.  As global leaders, it is important to work for the equality and understanding of all – which is exactly what cultural exchange aims to do.  As we connect with those of different backgrounds, cultural upbringings and communities than our own, it becomes more and more clear that not only do our differences contribute to a unique and wonderful global society, but that there are often more similarities amongst us than we would expect.


Consider laughter – a universal sign and sound of happiness.  This involuntary reaction is not unique to any specific culture, but rather is a unifying factor worldwide.  Often, the stories we see in the media focus heavily on our differences; but cultural exchange challenges that in a number of ways:

  1. Cultural exchange proves that you can thrive in a new environment. Every day we hear stories of Greenhearts around the world working for impactful change wherever they go.  As Greenhearts encounter new and exciting people and places, they are living proof that cultural exchange is effective and enables us to become leaders wherever we go.
  2. Cultural exchange shows the importance of similarities rather than differences. Despite being surrounded by an endless stream of newsmedia that often perpetuates fear of those different than ourselves, by actually going out, speaking to, and connecting with others we see clearly that we are more similar than different.  We love, laugh, and cry for the same universal human values.
  3. Cultural exchange highlights the beauty of diversity. Although we begin to see our similarities more clearly, this does not mean that our uniqueness falls by the wayside.  Rather, through cultural exchange we are able to celebrate our differences and use the knowledge of one another’s cultures going forward to be effective global leaders.
  4. Cultural exchange makes the world a more beautiful, connected place for everyone. If we recognize the intrinsic value that each member of our global community holds, we can better understand one another.  If we better understand one another, we can work together for impactful change.

“We are reminded that we’re joined together by our pursuit of a life that’s productive and purposeful, and when that happens mistrust begins to fade and our smaller differences no longer overshadow the things that we share. And that’s where progress begins.”                        — United States President, Barack Obama

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