Cool Door Swahili Lamu KenyaPhoto Credit: Justin Clements

On the Swahili Coast and nearby islands of East Africa, Persian and Arab culture mixed with that of the local Bantu people because of their trading settlements which they had established.  This intricately carved door embodies that fusion.  It also happens to be open, just as trade opens doors.  And because of the internet, that door can never be closed.

We can now do business with other countries in ways that I never thought were possible.  Never would I have imagined that I could make money teaching English online to someone in a different country, yet here I am doing just that.

But business with foreign countries is not just about money.

Phoenician alphabet

Because of trade, the Ancient Greeks were able to adapt the Phoenician alphabet for writing their own language, making it the first “true” alphabet.  “They also learned the Lydian practice of using coins and gained knowledge of geometry from the Egyptians.” (Perry 65-66)

While during the Tang Dynasty of China, “new ideas in mathematics and astronomy developed from contact with India.”  And “traders, missionaries from India, and Chinese converts carried Buddhist ideas and knowledge between India, China and Korea.”

“Some Buddhist ideas seemed to violate the Confucian rules for proper conduct and family responsibility”, but because “Buddhism appealed to those who looked for peace and spiritual comfort” (Perry 256-257), it became influential.

Rhind Mathematical Papyrus Egypt Geometry Thebes End of the Second Intermediate Period c. 1550 BCPhoto Credit: Paul James Cowie (Pjamescowie)

So that’s how trade and contact with foreign nations can provide us with new ideas that are beneficial.

I did not expect to gain so much knowledge from my Japanese students, but I have.  Some of them are from varying fields such as Development Economics, Mechanical Engineering, Government etc.  It’s amazing that I can get paid asking them questions related to their field.

For that I am grateful for the creation of the internet, where even goods can be traded, and most importantly — ideas.

Buddha Mandala Lotus BuddhismPhoto Credit: Tsui


Perry, Marvin. A History of the World. Boston, MA: Houghton-Mifflin Co., 1988

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