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American culture has historically been shaped through a variety of influences. In the past, immigration and soldiers returning from overseas have been among the major sources of these cultural contributions. One of the areas in which these influences can be seen is in the culinary fashions during various parts of American history. French food, for example, made its way to the common American table after the American troops returned from World War II. In today's world, although immigration does continue to be a factor, the global marketplace has become increasingly significant in fostering our cultural expansion.

The World Trade Organization's efforts have been instrumental in the abilities of an increasing proportion of the world's nations to play a more active role in the global economy. Through global trade, information technology has blossomed throughout the world. When developing nations participate in the technological industries, their economies become more stable. Increased financial capacity facilitates further participation in the global marketplace and leads to an increase of goods that are available for export. Thus, we have an increased variety of the world's goods available here for our consumption. In addition, these factors help those who immigrate here to maintain strong cultural identities, demonstrated by the increased number of small neighborhood stores offering ethno-centric goods and services, as well as by the wide range of international foods commonly available in most supermarkets. Such cultural co-existence cannot help but influence American society.

Technological advancements in personal computers and mass media grant access to a variety of cultures. This provides the user with a window through which to view the world, increasing knowledge and familiarity. This knowledge is being more frequently utilized in our mainstream media, thus filtering into our culture. For example, in one of her music videos, Madona made use of the Indian bindi (worn by Indian women on the forehead) and their henna skin art, commonly worn on the hands and feet. This once exotic look has become so much a part of mainstream American fashion, that it is right now being marketed by Avon, a large, national cosmetics company.

There are many social advantages to the enrichment of American culture through the intimate contact with those of the world beyond our borders. The primary being that as we know other cultures, we learn that we are much more the same than different. We all seek to achieve the same basic desires, to create safe and comfortable lives for ourselves and our families. Through this understanding it is possible to reach the point of peaceful co-existence of varying cultures within a single nation that is the idealistic foundation of America.