The Cross-Cultural Crisis
When I was in eighth grade, my English teacher told the class her story about when she was around 6 years old it was difficult for her moving from Switzerland to Saudi Arabia. She was not familiar with the intense heat, the traditional Middle Eastern food, and the Arabic language. She found it hard to adapt in a Muslim country and its beliefs. Before she started her first day at school, she was incredibly worried that she would not feel belonged with her new classmates because of her skin color, and that they would make fun of her native accent. She also knew that she would be the only Swiss in her school. This is an example of how some people struggle through adapting to a different country with a different culture. Elmaz Abinader’s ‘Just Off Main Street’ and Rasma Haidri’s ‘Urdu, My Love Song’ tell us about having different cultural identities since their childhood. In both their narrations, they convey some of their own experience in several elements of cultural identities, such as language, food, religion/traditions, and appearance. Their stories add to our understanding of how it is often difficult for people to accept a multicultural society.
Language was part of the pressure they had to deal with. In ‘Just Off Main Street’, Elmaz Abinader refers to a magic door that separates the outside ‘American’ world from hers. English was the language used in the outside world, while Arabic dominated inside her house. On the other hand, Haidri starts off by arguing about the meaning of shukria, which she defined as ‘thank you’ or ‘please’ or ‘sugar’. It is one of the few words she spoke in Urdu and yet she was not sure of the meaning. English was dominant in both their lives. English is Haidri’s first language in which she communicates with, unlike her father who has an accent and speaks mostly in Urdu. Her father used to sing Urdu songs to her that made her enjoy the exotic and rhythmic language. The closest she got to speak...
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