Monday, May 21, 2018

Americans should treat foreign cultures with more tolerance

TANYA KEWALRAMANI ’15

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

 

If I am being completely honest, I had absolutely no idea that Miss America was even happening when I saw on Facebook who the winner was. The contest was not something that I followed and I had little interest in it. When I woke up the morning after the competition, and checked Facebook, my news feed was flooded with links and statuses about the winner Nina Davuliri. I glanced at the mountain of work piled at my desk, and then glanced back at my computer’s screen. Of course, we all know what the winner was? My Facebook page.

As I scrolled through the links provided, I was in utter shock. Not so much anger, but pure shock. People’s ignorance had soared to an entirely new level. There are two things that I need to clarify before I write any further. Dubai, my hometown, is in the Middle East. It is from that part of the world where Arabs are from. I was born in India, which is my nationality. That is where Indians are from. It should be obvious enough, right? Clearly not from what I had seen on Facebook. It was baffling to think that people confused India and the Middle East as one. Had the 9/11 attacks left a certain number of people in America thinking that the rest of the world was somehow meshed into one, and America was the other part of the world?

It is really easy for us to blame all these people, and criticize them. However, we need to get down back to the basics. What influences their thoughts? They believe in their country, like we all believe in our respective countries. They are imposing the views that have been imposed upon them. They have grown up in households that dictate such views. Maybe their parents say all sorts of terrible things about the United States and the world that exists. 9/11 left a major impact on them. Some people attacked their home, where they are supposed to be safe. In their minds they feel that it was so simple for outsiders to attack where they are supposed to feel secure. Whatever the media has taught them after the incident, must have left a deep impression on them.

I can never forget the conversations that I have heard after this incident. Everyone, including Americans themselves had nothing good to say about the people on Twitter. Some of them felt disgraced that they were actually in the same country as these people. International students felt unsafe, disgusted, and worried. What about themselves? Is that what all Americans thought of them? They were in a country that had given them a home for a certain number of years and intended to make the best time out of it that they possibly could.

This incident sparked a number of concerns that I feel America needs to address. Can we all make a difference by posting a status on Twitter, or on Facebook? I mean, that is definitely the first step forward, but what about after? Schools and the media need to make the biggest changes. People need to be educated about the world outside America, and the opportunities that it has to offer.

I have made my home in the United States, and have always made the best out of it . I did not feel unsafe. Instead, I was quite disappointed. I came here to learn and get a better education. I have had such amazing experiences, and such an incident would never leave me disheartened, but in fact more motivated. It should be looked upon as a teaching opportunity, as opposed to insulting that sector of people. It is more of a “lack of knowledge” situation as opposed to an ignorance situation.

There is a television show in India called “Jhalak Dikhla Jaa”, which is an Indian version of “Dancing With The Stars”. I am absolutely addicted to the show. There is a dancer from America named Lauren, and she is the only foreigner on the show. The Indians are in love with her, and they have embraced her with open arms. Well that is the general consensus anyways.

Then I heard another series of comments. How a foreigner should not have been allowed to come on the show. It was an Indian show after all. It was unfair that they had brought her on the show and many other such comments. Such problems take place all over the world, but it is us who need to make a change as opposed to criticizing these people.

There are a certain number of people that exist who are simply just ignorant. Then, there exists another sector of people who have been brought up in a certain way who are completely influenced by the media. We can slowly change their ways in a number of ways, but the most important thing we need to remember is that we need to be gentle with them. By simply imposing our views on them, it will not make any difference. Slowly and steadily, we can make a change and we need to start now.

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