Making friends is a natural thing for most people. We gravitate towards other people based on common interests, such as a club, sport, school or church group. Some people are best matched with complementary personalities. No one ever really acknowledges the role of various cultures represented within friend groups (or lack thereof) nor the effect that having different cultured friends could have. Yet, according to an MIT Sloan School of Management study, having a diverse friends group may open a person’s mind and even influence one’s own personality.
Without realizing it, having different cultured friends changes your view on the world. They introduce you to new ways of life, new foods, new beliefs and customs, and so much more. Learning the way different cultures react to certain situations will change how you react to the same situation.
Having friends from different cultures promotes multi-culturalism. It helps you accept people from different races and ethnicities for their uniqueness. It also helps show how to practice different beliefs different from yours.
Researchers Jackson Lu, Andrew Hafenbrack, and colleagues studied “115 MBA students, 108 people who had dated both someone from their home country and a foreign country, 141 currently employed United States residents, and more than 2,000 foreign nationals who had worked in the U.S. on a J-1 visa and then returned to their home country.”
Their findings showed that the MBA students who dated someone from another culture during their program performed better on thinking tests. People who had kept in touch with friends they made in America after they had returned to their home country also tended to be more innovative and more likely to become entrepreneurs.
There are several different ways to have more multicultural experiences such as: traveling abroad, meeting people of other ethnicity locally, finding a foreign friend online, going out and trying different cuisines, read foreign literature and history, and most importantly do not be confined. Inquire about the many international trips planned for CHS students this summer, such as a trip to Paris! Open yourself up and start learning.
The second you start doing these things, you begin to recognize that everything in the world can be viewed in many different ways. Go out and meet new people. Talk to them and see how they do everyday things differently than you do.