Breaking the stereotype: 1 person at a time

Loved this social experiment and I think we need more of these. I have been hosting couch surfers this year and I have to say its been amazing… meeting people from so many different backgrounds and somehow at the end of the day when you take all the ‘tags’ of religion, ethnicity, nationality etc. away, we are not really that different from each other 🙂

and you can check out all the comments here on their FB page: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=450706321671546. I have to say the overwhelming majority of the comments were very supportive and extremely refreshing to read. 

I am a muslim, a woman, in a developing country, so I am quite aware of the kind of stereotype that I would be slated into at first glance or if you didn’t know me at all. Thing is once you get to know someone, once you are brave enough to push the boundaries, to break down the walls that we build around ourselves, you might actually find that I am not that different from you. That was the reason of why I signed up on http://www.couchsurfing.org as a host. I wanted to push my own boundaries, open up new horizons, have new experience, meet new people. What I found instead were people just like me. These people who passed through or stayed for a couple of weeks became friends who stayed connected no matter where in the world they are. Its like adding more pieces to a puzzle to get a bigger picture, a beautiful, harmonious connected picture 🙂

Why does stereotyping take place? When the only experience you have of a certain kind of people, religion or ethnicity is tinged by constant negative associations, when you have only one kind of story that you associate with them, you are automatically stereotyping because that is ALL that you have on them.

But if you were to meet me, stay with me, hang out with me and my friends. Could you then really go back home and support the slogan that all muslims are terrorist? or that all muslim women are repressed sexual objects? or that people in the developing world are blithering idiots who don’t know how to get their shit together so they can move past the political turmoils or stop breeding terrorists. I doubt you could do that.

I took one of the surfers home with me to meet my grandmother when we happened to be in the same area. My grandmom is a devout traditional muslim woman who was very concerned about a strange man living in my house. They checked out each other with a lot of curiosity. He was russian, a photographer, wearing knee-length capri pants, t-shirt with a big camera hanging around his neck. She is an old muslim women covered up from head to toe with only her face and hands visible. Yet somehow these two people met somewhere in the middle, they asked questioned and answered each other in their own broken english with thick accents. She offered cold drinks, he asked permission to take pictures, granted with a smile, I posed with my grandmom while my cousins flitted into the background.

Will either of these people ever be able to go back to the stereotype they had in their heads of the other person?

They couldn’t. Simply because they met somewhere in the middle with respectful curiosity their whole world opened up to something completely new that changed their views.

a world connected

 

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Posted on May 24, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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