I was fortunate to grow up with a great deal of harmonious diversity around me as a child. Just in grade school and high school alone, I had peers who were Iranian, Scottish, Kiwi, South African, Peruvian, Filipino, German, French, Greek, and Chilean. And that’s just what I can think of off the top of my head!
I’ve since tried to pick up a smattering of Cantonese from a Chinese friend (I’m told I’m awful at it), and I practice my Spanish when I can (sadly, I’ve lost a lot). My German is limited to one sentence and a few words, mostly name-calling.
The benefit to all this diversity, of course, is the sheer variety. That can really fire an author’s imagination. Since I write a lot of sci-fi, I have a blast creating my own cultures. Often times, I’ll have some crazy inspiration in my head, like, “If I cross a Brit with Indian background with an Aztec, I’ll get…” That’s the freedom of fiction.
We’re so global these days that there’s a lot to choose from as far as inspiration. If we’re this diverse on this planet, just imagine if and when humans go intergalactic.