13 August 2012

Word's from Rachd's Heart

Excerpts from one of my Omani teacher’s reflections on his trip to the States.  Reading this made me so proud to be involved in the work of cross-cultural exchange and education.  Hopefully it will give you a little glimpse into why I do what I do...

1- Don’t Give Up Your Dreams:

When I was 17 years old, I had a dream to study in the United States after finishing my high school in my beloved country, Oman. I couldn’t achieve that dream, but the wish to be in the United States has lived in my soul.  On December 1, 2007, I received a call from the university I was studying in that I had been nominated for a Fulbright Scholarship and I had succeeded in passing exams and interviews, which enabled me to live my dream to be in the United States for the academic year of 2008-2009.

2- Let Us Free Ourselves From The Prison of Misconceptions:

I live in a small village in my country, surrounded with beautiful mountains with my poor family.  I am the first person who got the chance to travel to the United States form that village.  It was hard for people there to imagine a young person with little experiences to have an unsafe adventure in a country has political problems in the Middle East.  “Being in the United States is not safe for a person from the Middle East, especially if he is a Muslim with beard!” some of my friends and relatives warned me.  “It is my life and I am free to make my decisions what to do in my life,” I replied to them.  “I think it is better to go there and find out the truth about the American nation myself.  Not all Americans agree with those horrible acts done by greedy, ignorant guys,” I said to them.

Being in the United States helps me see out of media’s negativity. I have met here many good decent people. I believe that living with other nations is the best way to know them instead just listening to news.  News can’t show the whole picture of any nation on this earth.   To know more about people in the Middle East, you need to go there and listen to them.  I am pretty sure that you will find out that most people around the world are good and most of us are victims of stupid politics.

After my experience here, I can prove to others we - as human beings- can live together if we give ourselves a chance to understand each other.

3- Study at the College and live in a small Appalachian town:

I am leaving the United States in few days, but the college and this small Appalachian town will never leave my heart.  The College is a small school with a lot activities which can help students grow intellectually and spiritually.  The town is a piece of heaven.  It is in the mountains with high beautiful trees where you can feel secure and meet friendly people.  After coming there, my faith in paradise has increased since I lived the beauty created by God.  Four seasons, wonderful weather, green lands and terrific views has made me live in a place like a paradise!

When I was applying for a Fulbright Scholarship, I tried avoiding the possibility to be in the South of the United States.  I was told that people in South are not friendly to foreigners.  I was stupid to believe them.  But, by a fortunate mistake, I signed to avoid the North!!  I believe it was God’s will and He always knows what good for us.

4- Be one in the Community:

I got to know many of people in the community.  They are very nice and helpful.  I visited more than 10 American families during my program and I really enjoyed talking to them and I established friendship and understanding with them.  Moments of visiting these families proved to me that human beings are great creation when we come together as one family.

5- Experience Religious and Political life:

My curiosity and desire to learn led me to visit more than 15 churches and to pray with Christians on Sundays.  Also, I got to know Baha’i and Buddhism which helped expand my knowledge and learn how to be tolerant to other faiths.

One of the interesting experiences happened to me while I am here was the presidential campaign.  Fortunately, last semester, fall 2008, I was studying a course about American Government with a great, knowledgeable professor.  That course helped me understand the US election more than before and opened my mind to get general ideas about the system of American Government.  Before studying this course, I hated reading anything touched politics.  Now, I believe that it is important to know how governments run countries and lead nations.  Democracy can not survive in ignorant societies.  Freedom will fade away if people do not know their rights and responsibilities.

6- Enjoy Teaching and Studying:

I admit that I was a student before I came to the States.  I was thinking how to teach American students who are very close to my age and almost have the same experiences in this life.  Then I considered this experience as a challenge can improve my personality and refine my teaching skills.  At the same time, I was a student; learned sometimes with same students who signed up in my courses I taught.  However, I really enjoyed each moment in teaching and studying.  This time, I can give my parents the official transcript from the College since I have no an “F”!!!

7- Offer thanks and Express Gratitude:

I feel that I have succeeded in my program this year. This happened because many people around me always supporting me. I am very pleased to convey my gratitude to:

  • Everyone who greeted me when I passed by.
  • Everyone who smiled to me.
  • Everyone who talked to me.
  • Everyone who shared his/her lunch or dinner with me.
  • Everyone who provided me with a book or a movie and to anyone who sent me an email within useful article.
  • Everyone who involved me in Thanksgiving, Christmas and other events.
  • Everyone who gave me a ride.
  • Everyone who made me feel that I am a part of this college and the community.
  • Everyone who provided me with clothes to keep me warm.
  • Everyone who was in my trips.
  • Everyone who helped in teaching me Southern dialects!!!!!
  • Everyone who helped me in scanning some papers I needed.
  • Everyone who attended some of my classes.

8- Ask a Favor:

Please do not believe everything you hear or you read about Arabs or Muslims in the media.  We need to find out the truth ourselves.  I believe that if anyone is faithful in knowing the truth, sooner or latter will find it. Just we need to be very patient and get rid of pre-conceptions and to open our minds to listen attentively.

You can start with these basic facts:

  • No real Muslims can kill or harm innocent people. “If any one slew a person – unless it be for murder or spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he slew the whole people, and if anyone saved a life, it would be as he saved the life of the whole people.” [Al-Qur’an 5:32]
  • It is a crime to force others to convert to Islam. “Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from error”[Al-Qur’an 2:256]
  • There are more than 15 million Christians in the Middle East living together with Muslims in harmony for more than 1400 years. 
  • There is a whole chapter in the Holy Quran with the name “Mary” talks about her story with her son Jesus peace be upon him. And Jesus has been mentioned in the Holy Quran many times as one of the greatest prophets was sent to the humanity.
  • Muslims can’t be Muslims if they don’t believe in all prophets and among them Jesus. They love Jesus and many Muslims with name “Jesus” in Arabic “Issa” 
  • What I mean that let us establish a strong bridge of understanding instead of living in prisons of fear and hatred. Let us remember that we all belong to same father (Adam) and mother (Eve) and we have been created by the same God. Many crimes are committed in the name of divine religions: Christianity, Jewish or Islam. As a matter of fact, greed, ignorance and pursuit of powers are behind most horrible crimes in the world. 

1 comment:

[ حـمامـﺓُ سَلـامٍ ] said...

Great coolen, I love ur mature thinking.!

I will keep reading the sayings of mr salem.. I like them>!

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