As technology, travel and other forces are bringing the world together, said ex-UK prime minister Tony Blair, it is important to understand the different types of people we meet. “What you don’t understand, you fear and what you fear, you dislike,” he warned.
Blair was speaking to schoolchildren and teachers at the Tagore International School in East of Kailash, one of 200 Indian schools that are part of his Institute for Global Change’s Generation global programme.
The programme promotes intercultural dialogue between students in nearly 40 countries to avert the frictions that Blair believes globalization can cause between people.
The children at the Tagore school, for example, video conference regularly with their counterparts from Palestine to the Philippines, Ukraine to Pakistan. Students shared with Blair their experiences and how struck they were at the similarities they had with other children.
“I was 12 years old when I met my first non-white person,” noted Blair. “That was the world I grew up in.” It was not until he went to college that he began to really know people “not like me” and two of his greatest influences there were an Ugandan and an Indian. “The birthday parties of my children are filled with people of different cultures and colours,” he added.
Real education is about how to become creative, said the ex-UK prime minister, adding that creativity comes from open and not closed minds. He said his programme is ultimately about teaching people how to have open minds.