BIC Spotlight program brings needed awareness of different cultures

11-26-Column_EScropBy EMILY SPARACINO / Staff Writer

The Birmingham International Center announced Nov. 21 that China would be its Spotlight country for 2015.

As a BIC Spotlight country, China will be the focus over the next year of a multitude of cultural, educational and business-related activities and events designed to benefit people of all ages and backgrounds.

In a day and age when social and political unrest among nations runs rampant, initiatives like the Spotlight program are refreshing in that they foster positive relationships among people of different cultures.

The program also engages children in learning opportunities, allowing them to explore different cultures in their curriculum.

The educational aspect of the Spotlight has reached tens of thousands of local schoolchildren in recent years.

Seven students from Inverness Elementary School were present Nov. 21 at Altec Inc. for the announcement of China as the 2015 Spotlight country and watched the Taichi Fans of Birmingham perform a Chinese Taichi Kungfu Fan Dance.

The students received a visual representation of authentic Chinese culture and had the opportunity to meet and take pictures with Yang Song, Consul for Cultural Affairs from the Chinese Consulate General in Houston.

One of the students’ teachers said the program brings people together, adding, “There are a lot of ways we’re different, but then, in many ways we are the same.”

The BIC Spotlight program offers a year’s worth of chances to cultivate respect and appreciation for our differences, and to celebrate our similarities.

By spotlighting others, we can also learn much about ourselves.