Cultural tolerance is a must: “No sir, I’m not inferior!”

indonesia 2019

Yogyakarta, Indonesia (Unsplash, 2019)

This article was exclusively written for the The European Sting by Ms. Bianca Batista dos Santos, a third year medicine student and works as Local Exchange Officer at IFMSA Brazil Unicesumar. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


When looking for the genesis of the word culture, according to the Oxford dictionary, it originates from the Latin, cultura, which means: to take care of. Therefore, culture is this caring for human nature, transforming it and this change depends on several aspects, such as age, gender, nationality, religion, education, among others. Each individual is unique, however, it is possible to unite them in cultural groups, according to their values, beliefs, behaviors and morals.

Yet, with cultural shock, some problems can arise, such as intolerance, xenophobia and ethnocentrism, which for many years enabled the “civilized” European white man to economically exploit so many countries in Africa and the Americas by imperialism, neocolonialism, justifying his acts claiming to be helping the colonized, exploited and enslaved people, bringing progress and civilization to those who didn’t have the same beliefs and customs.

Brazilian singer Rita Lee, in her music, cultural shock, gives the following message: “When I tripped on the ego. I was blind and I fell in the face. Cultural shock is normal. No sir, I am not inferior!” Here we perceive that there was initially a shock, there was confrontation, there was ego, ethnocentrism, but there was also awareness that there are no differences, there is no unevenness, we are all on the same level, no sir, I am not inferior!

As a Brazilian, I can say that although our country is recognized for its cordiality, kindness, receptive, yet there are differences between ourselves, among our own people. Blacks suffer discrimination because of their afro culture, their beliefs, candomblé, their orishas. The native people suffer prejudices by their rituals, by their superstitions.

However, all this should be valued, because it is part of who we are, a mixed race, who runs indigenous blood in their veins, runs the blood of black, yellow, white people. Who we are is the sum of all these worldviews, we are part of the Brazilian people, a people with so many differences, so many shocks, but at the same time it is united and seeks to live in harmony, with respect to life, understanding cultures.

The IFMSA with the human rights and peace committee (SCORP) provides discussions on refugees, disasters, ethics, discrimination, and much more. I as a medical student believe that such topics are very important for academic, professional and ethical training. Only with the full understanding of different cultures, with mutual respect, can we live in a world where peace and harmony between people reigns.

Where cultural shock is normal so that we can grow, have more creativity, more sensitivity, where cultural shock is normal and there is no disrespect, there is no prejudice, because “no sir, I am not inferior!”

About the author

Bianca Batista dos Santos is a third year medicine student and works as Local Exchange Officer at IFMSA Brazil Unicesumar. She is part of two academic leagues: ophthalmology and otolaryngology and neurology. She is also very active in college activities, from IFMSA campaigns, coordinating or participating, as well as conferences, congresses and scientific projects.

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