“The more I learn about other people, the more the obstacles fall between us.”
Hold a Conversation
In addition to the questions below, please see How to use the questions for reflection.
- Why does the speaker say he doesn’t believe in borders?
- In Utah, why does the speaker end up only “hanging out with people from my background?”
- What does the speaker say is different about his experience at Valpo?
- How does he account for the behavior of the people in Utah?
- Were you surprised by how he accounts for the religious habits of people from Utah? Why or why not? Do you agree with him?
- How does your experience of Valpo confirm or deny what he says is an openness to other cultures? Is it true of different American cultures or just international ones?
- Can you think of any situations in which we might benefit from borders?
- Which borders have separated you from others?
- In what way might you go about dismantling or crossing the border?
Let us know how the conversation or self-reflection went. Email us or discuss the experience in our comment box.
Transcript for I Don’t Believe in Borders
Actually, I do not believe in nationalities and borders. Saudi Arabia is 83 years old. It wasn’t Saudi Arabia; it was called Arabia. And Arabia is more than a nationality, it’s a race. Everyone who speaks Arabic, everyone who lived in an Arabic country, can be called Arabian, so, actually, I don’t believe in borders. And myself, I am kind of diverse because my grandmother is Egyptian, and I have cousins from a Turkish mother. I have Egyptian friends, Algerian, Moroccan, Syrians–I grew up with these friends, even Americans and British. Yeah, which kind of shaped my identity.
Oh, it’s great to have friends from different parts of the world. Cause it’s just let you know how other humans live together and how they act toward each other, and let you understand different cultures that you don’t have the chance to learn in your place.
It was hard for me when I went to Utah, when I first arrived to United States. Their culture I’d never encountered with, cause they have a different religion, different social life. I was walking down the street and there were missionaries chasing me, and they were talking me about religion. It was the first time I’ve been exposed to missionaries. I didn’t even know what missionary mean. So she kept talking about Mormonism and Jesus Christ, God, and she asked me questions about my beliefs and my origins. When I said I’m from Saudi Arabia, I’m Muslim, she said that you gonna kill us all. Since then I had fear to encounter with people, especially from Mormon society. And later I isolated myself, I did not talk much to people; I was hanging out with people from my background.
Yeah, people in Utah are used to their religious habits. I understand how difficult for them to see someone acting differently in their society. They have been living together for decades, and it’s kind of difficult to see an outsider walking in their society, changing the way they think or the way they believe. Cause these beliefs and thoughts shapes your identity, shapes your perspectives, and changing these thoughts would change you as a person, so it would take long time to accept outside thoughts and beliefs.
So I transferred in my sophomore year to Valparaiso, and I can say it’s totally different from there. I never felt like I’m an outsider or treated as an outsider. Everyone here was open to other cultures and people are willing to know about your culture and they ask you questions about your culture. The more I learn about other people, the more the obstacles fall between us. As I said, I don’t believe in borders, cause if you went up to the sky, you don’t see the black lines. We all belong to Adam and Eve; we all started as one. I think that human beings can live with each other in peace if they believe they came from one seed and their destiny is the same.