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Can we get over our ethnic differences?

14. Juni 2015

Globalization plays a huge role in bringing the world together. Still, we never miss a chance to categorise people into ethnic and religious containers. Is there room for a new informed society that embraces the differences? Does education matter?

„Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter“ - Martin Luther King

Taking the first step to get out of the comfort zone.

It took me a lot of courage to come to Germany on my own to study Political Science and Psychology at the University of Mannheim. I went to the German School in Alexandria; that’s where I learnt about the importance of having a voice. I grew up having the warm tradition of the Middle East and the best education that enhances the critical thoughts of the West, the best of both worlds.

What drew my attention in my studies is the international field. It points out the diversity of thought between different cultures and regions. Humans prefer to remain in their comfort zone; processing new information and evaluating the old ones would demand high cognitive effort. That’s why people prefer to use heuristic and stereotypes and that’s also why I decided to step outside of my bubble and learn about ideas that never came up in my thoughts because of the traditions of the Arabic society.

Does education matter when it comes to ethnical and religious differences and thoughts?

In our program we must attend several workshops that teach every student to be more open towards other cultures and other opinions. To make us understand that the world can not only be observed from our perspective. I chose to attend a seminar about social diversity and I chose this particular seminar because I wanted to understand how ethnical minorities are treated in each country. I also wanted to understand how other countries dealt with same sex marriage and different sexual orientations. When it came to forming our opinions about: “If it should be legal for same-sex couples to adopt a child?” I knew immediately that my opinion would be different; I was the only international student with an Arabic background.

Ryan McGuire

One Way © Ryan McGuire

Nevertheless, I decided to form my free opinion, as everyone here should be well prepared to think about different opinions and views critically. Even though I come from a country where lesbians and gays go to jail, I could understand that this is an act that prohibits freedom and equality. But still I think that a child should be able to grow up with two different genders as parents. After all, men and women are physically and emotionally different. Eventually the child can choose for himself which path to follow. But unfortunately I was attacked very negatively. My opinion was automatically linked to my religious views and ethnic background although I tried very hard to form an opinion that was objective and isn’t related to my personal views, religious or ethnic background.

Equality and Freedom, where?

Now I wonder where is the freedom of speech they always teach us about in the universities and schools. WHERE CAN I HAVE A VOICE? I know maybe not in Egypt where everything is censored, but not even in democratic countries? Is there really a place in the world where people can practice their rights of speech and opinion as equal humans, without being attacked, without being called terrorists or religious fantasists? I wonder if there is really such a thing called equality, or is it just a concept that we created to feel better about ourselves? Should these sad facts stop us from trying to have a voice?

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