Diversity

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As many of you know, Syria is not known for its diversity. When you walk in the streets of any Syrian city, you can rarely see a person from another race or color. All you see is Caucasian people speaking Arabic, unless you go to the old city of Damascus where you can find some tourists but still in our daily life we never had to interact with people other than Arabs. So my first couple months in the US can be considered as a “cultural shock” because here you can see people from all over the world; Asians, Black, Brown, White and so on. If you walk in downtown Chicago for example you can hardly hear anyone speaking English.

In the beginning it used to make me uncomfortable since I don’t know the traditions of each country and I don’t know if what I say or do could offend them. That’s why I used to hang out with Syrians all the time but after a while I started thinking that I’m here in the US and I am surrounded by people from all over the world and instead of mingling with them, I’m trying to avoid them and let’s face it; people from other countries can’t be that hard to hang out with. Eventually I made up my mind that I should meet new people. So I started to interact with people from other nationalities and to my surprise, it wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. I thought that it’s going to be hard for them to understand my traditions and way of living but it was the exact opposite because every person I have met was interested in knowing more about Syria and how we live and I was interested in knowing more about them too.

Now after almost a year here in the US I have many friends from all over the world; India, South Korea, USA, Ethiopia and others. If you would’ve asked me a year ago about these countries, I would just have said that two of them are in Asia, one is in Africa and the other is in America but now I know a lot more about how these people live, what their traditions are, what is considered offensive or not to them and I can easily say now I’m glad that I took that “tough decision” and got out of my shell.

-Zeina

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