From the outside of any culture, we project: we rely on stereotype, assumption, preconditioned knowledge and guesswork. It’s a one dimensional view.
Immersed within it, we build out the other dimensions: we add depth and colour, nuance and detail. That’s the privilege of travelling between cultures: you are able to experience first hand those things that previously have only existed on a page or screen.
Do these extra dimensions bring us closer together? Perhaps not in themselves, but they may provide the rich textural detail of landscape that allows us to understand our differences with more nuance, and that in itself can only be a good thing.
In the Social Age, distance is no longer the biggest barrier to connection: rather the preconceptions and one dimensional views we project form the highest barrier. Only by moving beyond our comfortable world and connecting with others, through our similarity and difference, can we build a richer view of the world, and form the friendships and connections that will let us change it.