One of the greatest blessings of being in Qom is meeting people from all over the world. We get a chance to see what life is like in different countries.
In school, we are surrounded by so many languages! You can hear people conversing in English, Urdu, German, Spanish, Arabic, among others. It’s given me a chance to practice my Spanish again, which I had unfortunately forgotten when I started learning Farsi. Even now, when my Venezuelan neighbor talks to me in Spanish, I reply in Farsi, even though I want to reply in Spanish!
Besides getting a taste for different cultures, perhaps the biggest blessing is being able to learn about life and culture, and how Islam is practiced around the world. Sitting in our little bubbles in the West we hardly had any exposure from the outside. Living in America even though we are of different ethnicities, since we are raised in the same environment speaking the same language, we end up sharing the same experiences, with little exposure to our respective ethnic cultures.
But here it’s different. I actually run into people surprised to see I was born and raised in America. But then how did you get here, they ask. It’s not like all of America is what you see and hear on the news. And that, unfortunately, is the case for most parts of the Eastern world, too.
I remember kids in school asking if Pakistan had roads and cars. Uh, yes, I would reply, totally stunned. And even now, when folks ask about Iran, I stand completely baffled at what the media portrays about this country, and what I see on a daily basis. It’s not the same.
I am grateful my children have friends from different places. When we have summer break and many of us go back home to our respective countries, my children will excitedly want to point out on a map where their friends are going home.
Exposure to many cultures and countries is often lost on many of those living in the West. People think if you just travel to Europe, you’ve seen it all. You really haven’t seen anything. Travel and experience different cultures, if not yourself, at least for your children. Share the world with them, and help expand their understanding of other cultures. It is imperative, if we desire a better relationship among the youth of the next generation.