By Hannah Zimmermann
On Monday, October 12th Intercultura celebrated el Dia del Encuentro de Las Culturas, otherwise known as Colombus Day in the United States, Dia de la Raza in many American countries, Discovery Day in the Bahamas, and Dia de las Americas in Uruguay. This holiday marks the anniversary of Christopher Colombus’s first journey to the Americas, and the merging of different cultures between Europe and the Americas.
The celebration took place at Intercultura’s beach campus in Playa Sámara, Costa Rica. Colombus began the first of his four voyages to the Americas in 1492. These voyages changed the perception of the world –from the way maps were drawn, to the belief the world was round (not flat), to expanding people’s knowledge of other people and cultures. In 1502, on his fourth and last journey, Colombus arrived in Costa Rica.
The Day of Cultures in Costa Rica is more then a celebration of the anniversary of Colombus’ discovery. This day marks the beginning of a blending of two continents, cultures and people. Europe and the Americas became united in language, culture, religion, politics and ethnicity following Colombus’ arrival in the Americas. He began a transition in the Americas as Spaniards, Dutch, French, British and Portuguese began to live alongside the indigenous people of the Americas. This transition has shaped the way we understand our own societies and cultures today.
At Intercultura, in an attempt to move away from the negative perception of this holiday and Colombus’s discovery, students and teachers celebrated the sharing and mixing of cultures. Students read the story of Christopher Colombus and his discoveries, as well as the importance of this holiday in Costa Rica. Professors demonstrated the typical dress of Costa Rica and led students in reciting the national anthem. Students from the United States, Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands put on skits demonstrating cultural differences between their countries, sang traditional songs from their hometowns and shared typical national food during the festivities. During the celebration at Intercultura everyone stressed the importance of intercultural understanding. Students and teachers alike promoted respect and tolerance, and the cultural exchange created a sense of unity and cooperation among everyone. By focusing on the understanding and acceptance of cultural differences, and embracing the different customs, people and foods from around the world students and teachers demonstrated that it is possible to foster a more united, just continent based on mutual respect, understanding and cooperation.
By Hannah Zimmermann, Intercultura Spanish student and ESL teacher, October 15th 2009