Together We Can Make a Difference: International Tolerance Day 2011


International Tolerance Day
International Tolerance Day by stevendepolo, on Flickr

As International Education Week continues to be celebrated this week, today also marks the 16th anniversary of International Tolerance Day. Have you ever thought about you can contribute to fighting intolerance? It may easier than you think! By simply asking yourself “am I a tolerant person?” you are raising your individual awareness and becoming an active participant in combatting this global issue!

First observed in 1995 by UNESCO to generate public awareness of the dangers of intolerance, the occasion continues to grow and celebrate the diversity of our world’s many religions, languages, cultures and ethnicities. Just as International Education Week presents opportunities to get involved, so does International Tolerance Day foster positive communication and change in our interconnected world.

So how can you get directly involved? Here are some ideas to get you started! Keep in mind that this is but a sampling of suggestions and that promoting international tolerance is an ongoing activity!


Educate Yourself

Diversity among cultures is something to be treasured, and this is better understood when ignorance is transformed by education. By learning how tolerance includes countering influences that lead to fear and exclusion of others, younger generations may develop the capacity for independent judgement, critical thinking and ethical reasoning. Even if you aren’t a student, in school or at a university, tolerance is a life-long experience and can be learned about all throughout life! No matter your age group, education will take place everywhere: at home, in schools, and in the workplace. The question is, where will YOU begin or further your education?

Encourage Dialogue

Once you better understand the ongoing issues, it becomes that much more motivating to get involved! By sharing your thoughts and exploring and discussing new ideas with others, this may inspire a variety of public debates or discussions on the subject. There are various challenges faced by every culture and it’s only when you let your voice be heard that change will begin to happen.


Immerse Yourself in a New Culture

What better way to educate yourself and learn tolerance firsthand than by considering a study abroad program, volunteer program, intern abroad or any other type of meaningful travel experience abroad? Whether it’s learning a new language, exploring a culture that’s radically different from your own or fostering cross-cultural friendships, there is no better way to achieve a new perspective than by participating in an international program! You never know where the road may lead and what you may learn from others.

If you haven’t already seen it this week, check out the message below about International Education Week from the U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton. It’s a great way to start educating yourself and to learn even more about getting involved!


How are you celebrating International Tolerance Day? Share your reasons in the comments below and explore all your travel options on!

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