This I Believe

vidya - burr ridge, Illinois
Entered on September 24, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: tolerance
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On June 25, 2007, I boarded a flight from the John F. Kennedy airport in New York City, headed for Rabat, the capital city of the country of Morocco, where I would be living for the next five weeks. This summer, I went to Morocco on a study abroad experimental program with eleven other teenagers just like me from across the globe. I have taken quite an interest in traveling and learning about the different cultures of the world. I believe in the acceptance and open-mindedness of diverse people.

Before going to Morocco, which is a mainly Islamic country located in the northwest region of Africa, I used to think that wearing a hijab, or traditional Islamic head covering for women, was very wrong, sexist and immoral. I thought so because I assumed that it was only to oppress women and shun them from the rest of society. However, after working, communicating and living in an Arab society, I have found that it is only out of their culture that the women wear hijabs. It is out of modesty. It does not, in fact, effect their societal status, as a woman placing a hijab over her head. Though I questioned where my feelings on females who wear head coverings should be directed to for quite a long time during my stay in Morocco, my thoughts laid to rest on the fact that different cultures have different traditions and customs. They just do.

This summer, going to Morocco was more than just a summer vacation; it was an epiphany for me. I unearthed a revelation concerning how acceptance is not such a difficult thing to accomplish.

In an attempt to identify myself with the Moroccan-Arabic culture, I observed that modesty is presented to serve its most oldest, most original form: to cease an arousing passion within people. The hijabs are more a sense of protection to women, than a form of oppression. It is unethical to stereotype and judge people of different cultures as the way I have in the past. It is only right to give what you may take as your first impression of something another chance. Acceptance and tolerance is what getting along with others thrives off of. It is a life lesson which we all need to take another look over. This, I believe.