Monday, April 16, 2018

The world is so big

Did you know about the Sea Worm Festival in Lombok province in Indonesia? Did you know the men’s Chitrali cap in Pakistan sports a peacock plum? I actually met a woman from Lombok and a man from Chitral at a conference in Bangkok a week ago. It has people from 35 different countries, and was organized by a Sri Lankan company (whose vision is ”Revolutionizing the Asian Research Culture”), sponsored by the University of Northern Colorado, and a Lithuanian Vytautas Magnus University. That’s some globalization for you.

You may think the world is getting worse, but it is not so. The global GDP quadrupled over the last thirty years. Many parts of the world are raising millions of people out of poverty, making it possible for them to get education, to travel, to talk to each other. In the past, the world has been connected mainly along the North-South communication lines, where Europe and North America dominated the discourse, for better or worse. It was a simpler world. Now, increasingly, it is South-South communications, where the multitude of peoples come together to share their lively cultures, their experiences, their solutions to common problems.

For example, Thailand’s government has introduced a coupon scheme where its half a million teachers are free to choose any professional development they chose to pursue, from a list of approved courses. I know, that’s a lot of assumptions about the power of consumer choice, and anyone can see potential side-effects. But the sheer scope and audacity of the project impresses me. They are not asking Europeans or Americans for their opinion; they are just doing it.

The University of The Philippines Los Banos has its own original theory and practice they call Developmental Communications. It is somewhere between journalism and public relations, but focused on regional development. They have their own founding figures, the history of the movement, and their own theory. They do not care if no one else in the world does not believe it is even a thing. The little group seemed to be happy, self-sufficient, and interested in what they are doing.

These are just a few examples I caught. But there is a whole wide world out there, with hundred’s, thousands of such stories. Somehow, it is comforting to know. We will never run out of human diversity.

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