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We all born into a society, a specific way of life, namely into a bunch of traditions. We are used to a specific cuisine, places, people, basically a specific culture. We just live and exist but do we actually see ourselves or our own culture truly unless we experience something else other than ours? Multiculturalism opens this inner possibility to chase the meaning of our own existence. The 20th century French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas indicates that the “face-to-face” relation is the basis of ethics which is prior to all philosophy, and that means the “face of the other” comes first and the “I” is responsible for the “other”. When we only live by our own, isolated and closed, disregarding other existences just because we believe that our truth is the only truth, when we avoid encountering the “face of the other” and not admitting that we are responsible of them, we don’t have the chance to pursue the true essence of being a human. So the question is, how can one truly experience another culture by encountering the others? Fortunately, with the outcome of globalization, many young people now have the chance to study and live abroad and get into a multicultural life.
Nowadays there are many exchange programs, probably the most popular one is the Erasmus program. The website of European Commission indicates that “by mid-2010, 2.2 million students experienced Erasmus and currently 33 countries are participating this program”. The main aim of Erasmus is to let young people experience different cultures beside all the other benefits of studying and living abroad. So at least students get to know the culture, the system, the people of their host country. But not only that! The most amazing thing about Erasmus, is that there is the chance to meet people who are literally from every part of the world and surprisingly you find out that you really get along with them! You truly experience a multicultural life style despite all the cultural differences and even political issues between your home countries. So you find the possibility of transcending your own being and your own culture which helps you to expand your horizon. “Others” interfere to your existence and you as an “other” interfere theirs, but only in a positive manner! You share everything, your culture, your cuisine, your experiences, ideas and thoughts and dreams, basically you truly open up yourself to others. Cultural, religious, ethnic differences, historical grounds, political tendencies and all the prejudices that you have been told throughout your life seem to dissapear or lose their meaning when you genuinely let yourself to get into the multicultural life. That does not mean that you “lose” or forget yourself, but it only helps you to realise that differences can not be a barrier between people. The point of views of many Erasmus people show that, the main aim of this program actually works, and many Erasmus people are truly satisfied of gaining unforgettable memories.
Encountering the face of the other shows us that eventually we are all human beings no matter how different we are, and it gives an opportunity for us to build an extraordinary relation between each other. Maybe, an Erasmus experience is one of the essential solutions that may give us hope and power to “fix” this world, no matter who we are by letting people to see other faces. So if you feel young and eager to live through cultural exchange, simply take part in this program and just see what it brings to your life!