What Is Cultural Isolation?

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Cultural isolation is the term for a country or region that does not care to interact with, understand or empathize with cultures outside its borders. Americans have been accused of cultural isolation, because some Americans have not studied or learned languages other than American English and seem content to know very little about other countries.

Cultural isolation hinders relationships with foreign countries. Knowledge of foreign languages and foreign cultures is essential to successful international relationships and diplomacy. American leaders advocate for political and financial interests outside U.S. borders. The world is becoming a global neighborhood with the advent of the Internet and the widespread use of mobile devices. Still, the United States has a reputation for enjoying cultural isolation. Many Americans seem particularly reluctant to travel beyond the United States to explore other civilizations. A recent State Department study reported a shortage of foreign service officers who speak foreign languages. Cultural isolation is not bound by geography.

According to an article in “The New York Times,” there is a general lack of interest by American leaders in foreign languages and the ways of the countries in which Americans are posted overseas. In an effort to improve this situation, Senator Fulbright initiated the Fulbright scholarships, which enable American students to travel around the world to experience other cultures.