By Mira Khatib
Our world is now described as a global village. This simply means, people in this time and age are more easily connected and can move more freely working and living in countries other than the one they were born in. However, the success of immigrants or expats largely depends on their ability to integrate in the societies and culture they move to.
Self-isolation, and the unwillingness to integrate or learn new cultures, new languages, a new social system and a new political fabric will most probably lead to segregation, loss of identity and an overarching failure.
This is a story of a family I met couple of years ago when I was living in Canada. An Arab family that resented the “Canadian” way of living. Sadly, I am referring to a second generation family where many are Canadians by birth. Yet; under the “cliche” of not losing their identity and Middle Eastern values, the parents opted to put their children in Private Arabic schools; lived in a neighborhood where Arabs dominated every facet of the surroundings and only socialized with Arabs; spoke only Arabic and kept “ALL” their traditions intact. And a small data point; this second generation family hardly spoke good English.
I am truly not against holding on to ones values and traditions. Nor am I an advocate of embracing all that comes from the West. However; I firmly stand by the fact that embracing other cultures and learning other languages will add to one’s knowledge; one’s values and one’s creativity. I argued with this family that it is not contradictory to live the Canadian way while feeling proud of your origins and keeping the good traditions and values. This is just one example, and we hear of many stories like this in communities in France, UK, US, Brazil, or other countries.
We live in an age where children can no longer and should not be locked out of other societies. We live in an age where inclusion, integration; and consolidation are the way societies are built, and how societies flourish. This is the new norm. Conversely, polarization; segregation and discrimination will most certainly drive hatred and civilization clashes. If one chooses to work or live in a new country, then embracing this new living is a must otherwise a cultural shock will drive the worst in people.
Finally, let us all remember the many success stories where Presidents of countries; legislators, media tycoons, successful business people and scientists are all descendants of immigrants. The common factor that binds their success is their ability to integrate and make use of the opportunity they are given.