Bridging Cultural Gaps with Dr. Jay Mehta

Having grown up in India, Dr. Jay Mehta found raising a family in East Tennessee to be a bit of a cultural shock. That’s why he’s been working to start a dialogue between cultures here. As part of his mission to bridge cultural differences, and as part of our Own Voices Reading Challenge, Dr. Mehta is holding a live discussion about Hinduism and the Asian community in the area. You can join the live conversation Monday, February 8 at 6 p.m. on your Library’s Facebook page. Comments and questions are encouraged!

Dr. Mehta has lived and practiced in the Tri-Cities area for more than 40 years, but he’s been all over the world. After receiving his medical degree in India, Mehta has trained in pulmonary medicine in Uganda, New York, and Denver before settling here. In Johnson City, Dr. Mehta has worked to control tuberculosis, which was a major problem in East Tennessee before he arrived.

All that time, Dr. Mehta has also been trying to bridge the cultural gaps he’s seen. In the 1980s and 1990s, he hosted “Wisdom from the East and the West,” a multi-faith conference meant to connect people from all walks of life.

“I was hoping to increase understanding between faiths,” Dr. Mehta says, “but it helped me understand more, too. Dialogue like that is necessary for doctors and patients, teachers and kids.”

Now Dr. Mehta is cognizant of a new cultural issue: how younger people interact with older traditions. 

“My children are more Christian-Hindu than Hindu,” he says laughingly. “People their age are evolving our religion and creating a new faith tradition.” 

He says that asking questions and understanding other people’s experiences is the only way to connect with them.

“Everybody interprets life through their own lens. If everyone listens, they’ll have a more wholesome attitude towards life.”

For more information about Dr. Mehta’s live discussion, call (423) 434-4454. Find out more about our Own Voices Reading Challenge here. Follow Johnson City Public Library on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube for daily updates on events, collections, and services.

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