Intercultural awareness plays a vital role in allowing individuals to be aware of the different cultural beliefs, values, and perceptions that different people have. It helps people to see their world in more than one way. Intercultural awareness is essential when people have to interact with people from diverse cultures. People from different cultures view, interpret, as well as evaluate things in distinct ways (Elmer, 2013). What certain people might consider appropriate in a certain culture might be inappropriate in another one. Intercultural awareness allows individuals to make sense of their reality and the differences that exist between them based on their distinct cultural affiliation to avoid misunderstandings (Bloomfield, et al., 2013). For instance, sports play a significant role in supporting intercultural awareness irrespective of the different cultural backgrounds sportsmen and women come from.
Sports and Social Culture in South Sudan
Despite their social affiliation, people are usually enthusiastic about sports popular in South Sudan. Games provide people with opportunities for participating in supported and structured environments, hence overlooking the cultural differences that exist between them (Gasparini & Cometti, 2015). In the case of South Sudan, sports play a significant role in supporting intercultural awareness and avoiding the tensions prevalent in the region. I will discuss the role that sports plays in promoting intercultural awareness in South Sudan despite war taking place in the country.
South Sudan is the newest country in the world. Even though it is rich in oil, it is among the least developed countries in the world, especially because of the many years its people have endured in civil wars. Many killings have occurred that were fueled by ethnic differences. Supporters of different ethnically calibrated political figures have differed bitterly causing tension (Bau, 2011). Various efforts have been made to resolve the disagreements that have occurred in the country, but still, more mechanisms are needed to deal with the unending war. Individuals from different cultures participate in various kinds of games, to cope with the social tensions prevalent in South Sudan, This cultural cohesion has functioned to unify them despite their differences (BBC, 2014).
Most of the sports teams in South Sudan bring together individuals from diverse communities who have been antagonized by the civil war. The games unite the people regardless of where they come from (Levermore & Beacom, 2012). For instance, at Juba Youth Training Center, weightlifters and fighters usually gather to train daily at 4 pm. Most of the people volunteer to take part in sports competitions because they can identify themselves with the games being played. They manage to coexist because they share something in common. People gather in stadiums to support their preferred football and basketball teams. Other games also exist, such as those meant for children and the disabled. Football serves as the most popular sport. Even though the country lacks sufficient pitches, people in South Sudan are passionate about sports, and so this does not demotivate them. They believe that sports unite communities torn apart by the war in the country. Therefore it is their duty to participate in sports despite lacking proper equipment and resources. In this sense, therefore, it is necessary for sports to play a fundamental role in allowing people to overcome the intercultural differences that exist between them as well as cope with the devastations that result from instability in the country (Campeanu, 2016).
Why Is Cultural Awareness Important?
In supporting intercultural awareness in South Sudan — a country characterized by cultural diversity — it is vital to lay emphasis on sports as a unifying force in the country (Schinke & Stephanie, 2014). The future of the country is dependent on the ability of South Sudanese people to foster understanding among themselves while developing and safeguarding human rights (Gasparini & Cometti, 2011). In this respect, introducing different kinds of sports would assist in bringing people together. Individuals from various social environments would watch and play games hence learning about each other through socialization (Berardo & Deardorff, 2012). These interactions serve as ideal tools for supporting social integration and cultural exchange. Sports contribute to social inclusion especially for immigrant communities, ethnic minorities, and refugees. Devising effective ways of enhancing regular sports participation enables individuals in the country to develop skills that would allow them to cooperate better with people from different cultures (Stidder & Hayes, 2012).
In the case of South Sudan, it is appropriate to look past the prevailing civil war to understand how certain practices would contribute to the integration of different communities through sports. It would be suitable to carry out an assessment of the cultural and political contexts (Cassidy, et al., 2015). Such practices would nurture the sharing of experience and establish standards that would unlock the potential of sportsmen and women. Ultimately, cultural cohesion would be enhanced, and political stability would be realized.
BIBLIOGRAPHY \l 1033 Bau, J. B. (2011). Lost Boy, Lost Girl: Escaping Civil War in Sudan. Washington, D.C: National Geographic Society.
BBC. (2014). South Sudan and the unifying power of sport. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-25427965
Berardo, K., & Deardorff, D. K. (2012). Building Cultural Competence: Innovative Activities and Models. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing, LLC.
Bloomfield, D., Barne, T., & Huyse, L. (2013). Reconciliation After Violent Conflict: A Handbook. Stockholm: International IDEA.
Campeanu, A. (2016). South Sudan and the unifying power of sport. Retrieved from http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/inpictures/2016/07/south-sudan-unifying-power-sports-160707111053370.html
Cassidy, T., Jones, R. L., & Potrac, P. (2015). Understanding Sports Coaching: The Social, Cultural and Pedagogical Foundations of Coaching Practice. London: Psychology Press.
Elmer, D. (2013). Cross-Cultural Connections: Stepping Out and Fitting In Around the World. Westmont: InterVarsity Press.
Gasparini, W., & Cometti, A. (2011). Sport Facing the Test of Cultural Diversity: Integration and Intercultural Dialogue in Europe, Analysis and Practical Examples. Strasbourg: Council of Europe.
Gasparini, W., & Cometti, A. (2015). Sport is facing the test of cultural diversity. London: Council of Europe.
Levermore, R., & Beacom, A. (2012). Sport and International Development. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Schinke, R., & Stephanie, H. J. (2014). Cultural Sports Psychology. Springfield: Human Kinetics.
Stidder, G., & Hayes, S. (2012). Equity and Inclusion in Physical Education and Sport. London: Routledge.
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