The Easiest Way to Learn Culture
We all know that the best way to learn is by doing. Now, we must say that some learning can only be done through instruction. It is difficult to learn about at atom by doing something. We are constrained to learn about astro-physics, but understanding the math and conceptuals.
But, if you want to learn how to garden, how to drive a car, how to do public speaking, how to play a saxophone, how to learn another language or how to play basketball, a book is only going to get you so far. In anything that requires developed skill, you must exercise the skill.
The reason I mention this is that learning culture is something that requires exposure to culture. I'm concerned in this area. I see too many people relying upon books to learn that which only experience will perfect. I have watched person after person reading materials to better understand this generation or that ethnic group, this age demographic or that urban context, this race or that needy social group. The best way to learn is to dive in. Get to know some folks across the tracks. Spend time doing what might seem simple to you, but is of utmost value and complexity to someone else.
And, the best way to do that is to get right down to the boring parts of that connection. Drive a person without a license to get their groceries and visit with them for a couple of hours while cooking the bounty from shopping. Invite a person from another culture to your home every week for a meeting of the minds and a conversation (and/or prayer) over life. The reason you should do the boring parts is that culture comes out most clearly in the day to day. Special events just don't do it.
By the way, learning to play a saxophone or speak a language or garden has lots of boring parts that require mind-numbing repetition. You don't learn in the concert hall or giving a speech. So, dive in. That is the easiest and best way to learn a culture. Put the book down, back-up and nobody gets hurt.