RISING ABOVE STEREOTYPES THROUGH INTERCULTURAL EDUCATION
The human personality is a socio-cultural construct. The culture matrix, in which we are born and evolve, leaves its mark over the collective mental status. Stereotypes belong to our cultural heritage and they appear as forced clichés, contributing, next to the entire cultural heritage, to the formation of personal and collective identity. Everyone’s cultural heritage, acquired via enculturation, contains in its very core auto-stereotypes and hetero-stereotypes that become active and become aware during contacts with individuals and groups from various cultures. Thus, the cultural dialogue embodies the conjunction of symbolic universes, having distinct significations that are expressed by a rich property (words, gestures, behaviors etc.) in which mental clichés, having the power of socialized collective representations, are also found. The case study illustrates the adoption of stereotypes by adolescents, according to natives from historical regions of Romania, and underlines the influences of neighboring cultures throughout the intercultural contact with Romanians. The conclusions emerging from this study strengthen the importance of intercultural education in modeling the collective mentality towards tolerance, intercultural dialogue, based on an authentic self-image and rising above negative self-stereotypes.