When I introduce myself as a ‘culture broker’ at networking meetings, I sometimes get the reaction: ‘ Well, we won’t be needing the likes of you for much longer! Everyone is travelling abroad so much now that we all get to understand other cultures better. And besides, everyone speaks English nowadays.’ And then they point to Coca-Cola, McDonalds and Google as global brands which demonstrate how the world has become a much smaller, more familiar, more inclusive place.
Ah, yes, this would be the global understanding and togetherness that has seen the rise of far-right parties in countries previously praised for their egalitarianism and liberalism, such as the Netherlands and Sweden, would it? Or the openness to other cultures that has led to the strongly incentivised (dare I say ‘forced’) repatriation of Romas from France (and not just France)? Or the corporate domination of the world by American companies, while the American people have become figures of ridicule or symbols of oppression in many parts of the world?
So we retreat into our gated communities and tut-tut about the unpleasantness of other countries. We stick to what we know until we need a bit of sunshine on our holiday.
In the long run, I would certainly like nothing more than for my job to become redundant. I would like to further cultural awareness and understanding so successfully that I could then retire gracefully. Here’s to hoping… but, in the meantime, here’s to acting and working and talking about it!