Keep an Open Mind

Anna - Cypress, Texas
Entered on November 10, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

I believe in keeping an open mind. The world would be a much more peaceful place if people could see that no matter where a person comes from, we are all alike.

In the past 16 years of my life, I have moved 7 times. Moving, especially overseas, has opened up my mind and shown me a world of possibilities. When I first moved to England from the states, I was nine years old. I didn’t know what to expect, but by going to an international school, I found people in the same situation as I was and soon made friends from all over the world. Then, three years later when I moved to Bucharest, Romania I became exposed to a whole new place and met a whole new group of people. I have friends from Israel, Pakistan, Korea, all over Europe, and numerous other places. By making these friends I realized that people have different cultures, languages, and customs, but in the big picture; we are all the same. The best example of this is the friendship of a boy from Lebanon and a boy from Israel. Despite their countries being at war and hating each other, they managed to create a strong friendship. To me, this is amazing because it shows true open-mindedness. They both have graduated high school, the Israeli boy is now in the Israeli army, the Lebanese boy is in university and they have managed to keep their friendship. They looked past the violence and hate and saw each other for who they really were.

At my schools in both London and Bucharest, we had international days where people from each country set up tables and stalls full of their national and traditional foods. It was a great way to try new foods and see what different cultures eat and how they dress as well. When I was ten, I heard the word “sushi” and would think “Gross, raw fish?!” but then, my Japanese friend took me to her country’s table and made me try some. I fell in love with it, and to this day, I love sushi! Now, I never judge a food by how it looks or what it is before I try it. When I keep myself open to new foods and ideas I find that there is nothing to lose!

Through travel, I have also been presented with different cultures. Living overseas gave me the opportunity that most people my age do not have; to travel. I have been to nearly every country in Europe, to Israel, Jordan, Morocco, and South Africa. In each place, the people were fascinating whether they were Bedouins living in caves or Parisians living in apartments. I could relate to each of them and learn about their culture hands-on. In Israel, I visited my best friend, I heard her friends talking about their hate for Arabs and making fun of them. The whole time I was thinking, “if only they actually took the time to know one, maybe they would end up liking them”. The following year, I went to Jordan, a Muslim country. I became aware that much of their culture is similar; similar foods, music, and even some words in each language are the same. One big problem is that if an Israeli wanted to visit another Middle Eastern country, it would be very dangerous and sometimes they are not even allowed to enter the country. This way, they cannot see what it is like and are therefore ignorant. I’ve used the Israeli-Palestine conflict many times just because it is something I know a lot about, however much of what I am saying is universal because it is all about absorbing new ideas, cultures, and people.

It is really important to learn and experience new things in order to have an open mind. Knowledge is like the key to the world; once it is open, people are shown a whole new perspective and are offered an open mind. It is only their choice whether they accept it or not. This I believe.