Overcoming misperceptions through intercultural education: Promoting the understanding between Colombia and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA)

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Juan David Rodríguez
Juliana Paucar
Malory Bedoya

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The purpose of this paper is to find a way to promote cross-cultural understanding between Colombia and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries in order to foster their bilateral relations in terms of academic collaboration and, eventually, in the fields of commerce and investment. First of all, the paper exposes the issue of existing misperceptions among cultures in today’s world. In order to show that intercultural understanding can be achieved, two cross-cultural framework of analysis are used: Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions and the GLOBE Project. The findings of both studies are analyzed in a qualitative manner in order to identify possible similarities that might help draw links these two geographically distant cultures. After analyzing the findings of those two cross-cultural studies, some cultural similarities were found between the societies of Colombia and the so called Arab countries. Finally, upon reviewing the case of the Asia-Pacific Studies Center at Universidad EAFIT in Medellin, Colombia, it is proposed to replicate such an experience with a possible MENA studies center. This paper addresses the so far unstudied issue of the relations between Colombia and MENA; it also proposes a means to foster their rapprochement.

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