'Diversity is the art of thinking independently together.' (Malcolm Forbes)
Crossing international borders within the EU Schengen Area has changed so much since my earliest forays into continental Europe. In those days, it would have meant queueing at border posts, having my passport stamped, changing my money into local currency etc. As I passed from Germany into the Czech Republic on an open road yesterday, the only immediate discernible difference, apart from seeing a cannabis shop (which was a novelty for me) was a change of language on the road signs.
Yet, in spite of the many commonalities, I was nevertheless entering into a different land with its own distinctive history, identity and culture. It would be a mistake to assume that similarities mean that everything is the same. The words, phrases, gestures and everyday patterns of behaviours that are, for me, so normal could inadvertently evoke surprise, anger or confusion – or lead to an arrest. Crossing borders is like crossing cultures. It calls for openness, curiosity and a willingness to learn.
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