My experience at the Multicultural Mosaic Foundation has had a big impact on who I am as a person. It has made me realize more so than ever that everyone is human, and that there really isn’t an “other.” From now on if I view someone as an “other,” it isn’t because they are different, rather it is because I have not done a good job at getting to know them and their background.
We live in a society that tells us it is okay to discriminate against people, in fact, our society even tells us who we should discriminate against and often times why. Interestingly, through the media, we further construct which groups should be and are being discriminated against. This is evident in the stories that are covered in the news and how they are framed.
On Wednesday evening, the whole Wartburg West program went to the Multicultural Mosaic Foundation to have food and conversation with individuals who practice the Islamic faith. Of all the places we as a class have gone, this was the trip that I was most excited for because it is a faith that I have heard a lot about, but that I knew very little about. It was also important to me because I’d never really had the opportunity to interact with individuals who are practicing the faith and openly discuss their religion and background with them.
Prior to going to the Multicultural Mosaic Foundation, we had to read a chapter on the Islam faith; this was enlightening because it helped to put the differences and similarities between the Abrahamic faiths into perspective for me. Learning more about Islam through this reading solidified for me that while this Islam is portrayed as very different, it is in reality very similar to the majority faith of the United States, my own faith.
Reading and actual interactions with real people are two very different experiences. Interacting with the community and individuals at the Multicultural Mosaic Foundation on multiple occasions has been such a wonderful experience. While there, the first thing I was struck by was how strong the sense of community was; everyone knew everyone. Different adults were taking care of all the kids running around and all of the kids were comfortable with all of the adults. Something that was striking was that the community we spoke with did not feel that they faced discrimination often (unless at an airport) this was so interesting to me because the media portrays the population so much differently. This among other experiences has confirmed in my mind that the media is so skewed and therefore is an unscrupulous source for information.
Through this experience and my continued devotion to being a global citizen, I have come to realize how important it is to keep an open mind in all situations.