Cultures are defined by the people in them, so they ebb and flow and change as the communities that celebrate them change. In the modern world of globalization, this is part of why it is difficult for people to understand why we preserve culture knowing that it will likely change down the road. We like to believe that there is more complexity in cultural preservation that still allows for its evolution.
Many writers, scholars and other intellectuals have speculated about how we can understand where we are going without understanding our past. On the one hand, of course we can see that cultures and people typically move forward. However, there is always some aspect of who we once were that lingers in the midst of that evolution. Those pieces that stay with each culture have their own history in how they have connected the community, the nature, the neighboring communities and more over generations.
This is why we believe in cultural immersion. Although many define it differently, we see it as a more well-rounded experience that is led by those who live the culture every day. Those who grew up hearing the stories of folklore, those who were taught to cook the food by their mothers and grandmothers, these are the best people to show visitors what they value in their culture. Not only are they the right people to present the culture but they are also the right people to bring visitors in to experience the culture for themselves.
Immersing people in new cultures is what preserves the culture in a new way. It does not only allow people to understand why some cultural traditions existed and how they play into what where the culture stands today. It also allows to build bridges between cultures to show that we may have different traditions, but we often have shared values that lead us to our various customs.
The preservation of our various practices, our oral history, our ethnic heritage, food, music and so much more is important but not for only one reason. The reminder of what grounds us, the revelations of what connects us and the changes that we implement to build stronger and better communities are all reasons to preserve culture. We believe that preserving it is what allows others to experience it and experiencing it is what allows humanity to remember the things that make us all human.