Semester at Sea Fall 2006 Voyage
TABLE OF CONTENTS
True Wealth of Knowledge
five minutes of being hassled by merchants, sexually harassed by
enjoyed cutting off our path by biking in front of us, dodging reckless
that drove lawlessly, stared, heckled and “welcomed to
managed to talk about everything from his work, intimate questions
religion, war and peace to even the meaning of life! Amir works at the
Farha Ghannam mentions in her book “Remaking the Modern”, my unexpected
encounter with strangers certainly “enriched, in ways that I had not
anticipated beforehand my understanding of daily practices and
struggles” (8). Through
participant observation, I was able to see another different part of a
East that the
Ghannam also talks about encountering a rich community that warns her not to visit the poor sections of society, which they see as the “Other”, and perceived as “drug dealers, criminals, troublemakers, and most recently, fundamentalists and terrorists” (5). Regardless of these cautions and her fears of being discriminated as a foreigner, Ghannam travels to the poor area and meets accepting people who she befriends. Her anecdote reinforced the idea that ignorance and stereotypes, created by looking at a region through the eyes of another without visiting the place for oneself, can be dispelled through meeting local people and learning from them. I experienced this through conversations with Amir, which dispelled propaganda and stereotypes of Western media that Muslims are Islamic terrorists.
My walk in the city showed me how much value there is in talking to people, even if it means committing a tourist crime of not going to the main attractions of a place, deemed by the tourist industry as “must not miss, or miss out.” The encounter with Amir was valuable for a multitude of reasons. I was reminded that visiting a country without meeting the locals steals away from an experience because the locals are prisms of truth, knowledgeable about their country in an intimate and real way, because they live it everyday. Talking to Amir had provided me with more education than what one of the biggest and most impressive libraries in the world could ever offer.