Assimilating to a New Culture

“I think one of the greatest things about coming into a new culture and assimilating to it is the fact that you actually understand your culture better.”

Edited by Nick Ladeau.

Transcript for Assimilating to a New Culture

I think one of the greatest things about coming into a new culture and assimilating to it is the fact that you actually understand your culture better. So, at first, when I… you know, when I was going to school, and I grew up in United States, and I began to learn English as well, and I started assimilating to the culture of the United States, I think I felt a little bit worldly, I felt I was better than my parents, because I knew more. And I would just tell them in front of their face, I know more about this subject than you do. But I think, recently, I’ve begun to learn that I don’t want to feel so worldly. I know I’ve begun to move away from vanity, and try to learn as much as I can, so I want to observe more than I conclude. 

I think, yeah, education is probably the, again, the biggest reason why I felt like I had more to say, than my parents. And even today, a lot of times, I would have arguments with them about religion, because I’m no longer Muslim. And so we will have a lot of arguments. And the way I argue a certain point, the way he argues back, you know, there’s misunderstandings there as well. And so I feel sometimes, I feel like, okay, yeah, my parents, you know, are not as smart as I am. But I think I’m still struggling with moving away from feeling like, from thinking that, that my parents are dumb, and I’m smart. I don’t want, I don’t want to feel like that because then I still want to learn as much as I can. Because, I mean, I think they can teach me a lot about Afghanistan, which I don’t know much, and I really want to learn that. And I always go back to my mom and ask her, what was your childhood like, you know, you know, what did you do, and I always enjoy her stories as well.

As a freshman, I think, Christmas break for my freshman year, when I came back, I started again, I started to see some of the superstition. And I started to judge it at that point, because for a long time, you know, there was, there’s this one superstition, where you’re not allowed to clip your nails at night. And for a long time, I followed that. There’s another one that when you’re going to sleep, say your prayer, you say the Islamic creed, and then you blow the demons around from all the four corners of your room. And so I would do, even when I became an atheist for a time, I would still do that, subconsciously, because then I was thinking, I was thinking, Why can I get away from this? So it was, you know, it was ,it developed within me. But I started to realize these things, and I thought, do these really matter? who am I doing it for

And I think one of the biggest things that really made a decision for me that I was I can no longer be Muslim was the fact that I was a Muslim for my parents, because it pleased my parents that I was a Muslim. I never really believed in God, I hated praying five times a day, and I, my God, I tried as much as I could not to fast on Ramadan. So I think that was why. I was just doing it for the wrong reasons. And when you’re educated when you read more, and I read the Quran as well in translation, which I never did, and is forbidden to read in the translation, with one of my parents, you know, because it has to be an Arabic, and it’s not the Quran if it’s not an Arabic. And I read it in the translation, and I saw some of the very offensive passages in there. I started to realize, you know, I can’t possibly be among people who advocate for beating women, for neglecting education, for scaring children into submission into believing that, you know, certain things are right, because just because the Quran says so. So you’re not allowed to imagine a certain, you’re not allowed to ask a certain question. So because of that, I moved away from it. 

I love my parents, and I love my family as well. But I think we’ve learned to differentiate between intellectual interests. And just the fact that we’re a family, I mean, we always, to each other, we always say, you know, I’m your son, you know, you’re always gonna love me and I will say, Mom, you’re my mother, you know, I don’t, I don’t care where I go, you’re my mother, I will always love you. So we have to differentiate between that because we are separating, and I think the fact that I am no longer Muslim still… they just don’t like it. Not only because of how they’re seen in the community, but also because they have this belief that I’m damned for all eternity because I’m no longer Muslim. And so my mom, I think, presumptuously sometimes says, you will never be successful in life because you’re not a Muslim. God will never help you. I mean, in these certain things, sometimes I feel you know, a little bit very, very melancholy because she says these… even my dad… but, again, I try as much as I can not to move into that subject as much with them, to just differentiate it, and try to talk about different things because I don’t want them to just think that I don’t care about them.

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