Growing up in the United States, immediately there will be differences in learning and understanding that will separate my knowledge from Middle Easterners. Though I grew up in a fairly diverse suburb of Washington, D.C., I cannot pretend that this gives me a better understanding of Middle Easterners. There is an undeniable barrier of understanding simply based on the way that we each grew up and what we were taught in school about each other.
Each country learns about the world in a different way. We are each taught with a focus on our own country, as well as typically putting the blame elsewhere in areas of conflict. For example, when learning about the atomic bomb that we dropped in Japan, I was always taught that Japan esentially brought it upon themselves. However, when visiting the memorial museum in Hiroshima, the blame was entirely put on the United States without any mention of blame on Japan themselves. This learning barrier alone creates separation in the way that we understand and interact with people in other countries.
Personally, I did not learn a whole lot about the Middle East growing up. Part of my taking this course is to better understand this region and hopefully overcome some of those learning barriers that have been created within me. I must challenge myself to consider who I am, where I am, and how I interact with International Politics, as well as considering the same for Middle Easterners. I must also hold myself accountable by recognizing any preexhisting biases or prejudices I may have about The Middle East.
Just as growing up in a city gives someone different experiences as someone who grows up in a suburb, growing up in the United States gives me different experiences than someone who grew up in The Middle East. Understanding the environment they grew up in and live in now will also help to overcome some of the barriers of understanding. It is also clear that our cultures are going to differ and comprehending ones culture can create a deeper understanding of who they are and how they might interact with International Politics.
Culture in the Middle East is even more of a focus in day to day life than it is in The United States. With large emphasis on family life and tradition it is especially important to understand Middle Easterners culture in order to break down those barriers. I think it is important for me to consider the differences in my growing up and my life, particularly as a young woman. In parts of The Middle East, women are oppressed in ways that I cannot even imagine and taking notice of that and being conscious of my privilege to live where I do is crucial.
All in all, it is clear that there will be barriers in understanding between myself and someone like me who has grown up in The Middle East. Partly because of the ways in which our lives have been different from birth and the way in which we are taught about the world around us. Some of these barriers may be impossible to overcome entirely, but I hope that through learning and understanding the culture and the environment in The Middle East as well as they way they understand the universal and the particular will start to break down the barriers between us.