An experienced traveler, Loyola University pre-med student Raihan Sayeed has volunteered extensively abroad. Ray Sayeed continues to sponsor 50 underserved students at Crescent High School in India and firmly believes in the power of intercultural communication for young people.

The adolescent years stand out as a crucial period in the development of a person’s worldview, regardless of where he or she lives. During adolescence, individuals learn how to relate to and communicate with others, and today’s global society demands that they learn these skills as applied to cross-cultural communication. Experts believe that cultural tension stems largely from unchallenged preconceptions and stereotypes of those who are “other,” a response that human beings are likely to develop if they are never given the chance to interact with different groups on a personal level.

Diverse cultural experience teach teens that those from different backgrounds are fully realized human beings like themselves, with closely held beliefs and universal emotional responses. At the same time, these experiences allow young people to learn new things about a culture or group from a firsthand perspective. This in turn provides the teen with a reference point that he or she can use to challenge stereotypes and communicate with people from a broad range of backgrounds, thus encouraging positive and productive interactions rather than generalizations.