The Middle East meets Europe
My paper started with a Palestinian meeting a Bosnian in Qatar University. At first you would think that those two have nothing in common except for the fact that they were both Muslim. For my research, I choose Miss Amra Ikan she is an advisor for the science and health science majors. And She is from Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Even their countries share the bare minimum. In order for a person to get to know someone and to properly communicate with them that person must learn about the history of the others country and Bosnian history is extremely rich and tells you a lot about the country. The region was ruled by a number of empires one of them was the ottoman empire back in the 15th century which caused the Islamic historical heritage that is prevalently obvious throughout the city and in the museums and the mosques that you can find in every corner. After WW1 Bosnia became a part of the newly created kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. With no statues of its own. After that came WW2 where Bosnia became a part of the republic of Yugoslavia. With the republics disintegration in 1991 the people of Bosnia voted for their independence and got it in 1992. In addition, Bosnia and Herzegovina is home to members of numerous ethnic groups. The three largest are the Bosniaks, the Serbs, and the Croats. The three groups share the same South Slav heritage. The major cultural difference between them is that of religious origin or affiliation. after the ottoman empire left the region. Muslims were faced with discrimination and they were denied higher education and excluded from high state positions. A sense of nationalism later developed among Bosnian Muslims as well. In the 20th century “Muslim” came to be used as an ethnic, not only religious, identifier; it was replaced in the 1990s by “Bosniak.”.
the main ethnic groups are the Bosniaks also known as (Bosnian Muslims), Serbs (orthodox romans), and Croats (Catholics). This caused the characterization of Bosnia and Herzegovina to be ethnically and religiously divers.
Bosniaks and Palestinians share the fact that their identity is heavily influenced by their religion. However Bosniaks are still influenced by the other ethnic groups and that’s where the differences could be found. For example Arabs are known to be polychronic and they do not pay too much attention to time, while Bosnians are Monochronic and they value time and they value punctuality. This may cause a problem in the future if ether one is not aware of this major difference in cultures. In addition, both cultures view proxemics differently Palestinian culture is a contact culture but Bosnian culture is a non-contact culture. The lack of knowledge regarding proxemics could lead to awkward encounters that could be avoided.
The interview took place in an office between an employee and an employer this could have had an effect on the conclusions drawn from the interview. For example keeping a desk between us could have been because of the culture or because of the difference in power position.
From my interview with Miss Amra I found out that both our cultures have many things in common despite out differences. For example both our cultures love coffee and the fact that it brings friends and families together. Also I found out that both had issues when it came to this culture and that just because the people her are both Arabs and Muslims does not mean that we can understand their culture easily and that it is still extremely different than both of our cultures. And lastly and the one thing that we could completely agree on was food our cultures love for food is indescribable we both saw that the best way to get to know a country is through its food because the through it you can understand people and it truly brings people together. And onething that Miss Amra told me that I will never forget is that when we have food in our mouths it’s very hard to argue and fight with others. I learnt a lot from my encounter with Miss Amra especially that we should not let appearances fool us and that just because we both wear the hijab does not mean that we know and understand the other.
For my research, I choose Miss Amra Ikan she is an advisor for the science and health science majors. She is from Bosnia and Herzegovina. The meeting toke place on the 25th of November in the science building office B228 . When I went into her office, she immediately greeted me with a big smile and (aslaum alykom). She asked me about how I was. She was dressed in a long blouse and pants and she was wearing the hijab. Throughout the entire interview, she maintained eye contact but kept her distance since she comes from a noncontact culture as specified by E.T Hall. In addition. The meeting was supposed to take place at 10.00 am and it did she was not late and we started as scheduled. First off, I asked her about culture and how does she define it she said that the literal translation of it is “kultura” it is the ideas that are agreed upon in a society she gave religion as an example. Then I asked her about if her culture is based around religion or not she said that it is especially around Islam since more than half of the population of Bosnia follow it but not in the same way that it is here in Qatar. and the culture bears many traces of the Turkish civilization that is predominant in the region for centuries. Then I asked What are the major features of your cultural identity? She said that religion plays a big part in shaping our identites and the many empires that ruled our region also helped shape it into what it is today. Next I asked What role does nation play in this? She said that nation does not matter that much because we have not figured out what our nation is because it seems like every twenty years we change nations however I don’t think that this will be the case in the future.
After that, I asked her what are the things that she misses the most about her culture. She said that you are not Bosnian if you are not crazy about coffee. Coffee is a huge part of the culture in every aspect. For example she said that she misses regularly meeting friends for a cup of coffee and she misses waking up getting a cup of coffee and sitting on the roof where she can see the forest, and that this ritual is the thing she misses the most . Then I asked her about what was her first impression of Qatar and the culture here . when she arrived here the first thing she noticed was how friendly everyone is and that it was a very peaceful place to live and to start a family. However, she said that she felt like a stranger even though she thought that by sharing the same religion as the Qatari people it would be easier, and it toke a lot of time to get used to and to understand the culture here. She added that Qatar is a very culturally diverse country, which made adjusting even harder because she had to get familiar with people who come from other cultures like Egyptian, Sudanese, Lebanese and many more. After that I asked What cultural identity resources do you draw on in the university context? She said that she gets all of her information about the culture here from her best friend May who is a Lebanese and sometimes she is as clueless as I am. Then I asked her about what major holidays that you celebrate she said that on March 1 they celebrate their independence from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Also they celebrate all the Christian holidays but not the Muslim ones even though Islam is the dominant religion in the country. Then I asked her about the value of Bosnian food , she said that you can visit the museums walk around the street look at the architecture but if you want to really discover the Bosnian culture you have to look at the food. In the last 150 years Bosnia has been part of six different empires, kingdoms, and republics. As can be expected this had a huge impact in the country’s culinary customs. And when you visit you must not leave until you try the legendary cevapcici, grilled sausages served with pita, even though Sarajevo is the grill capital of the Balkans, meat is not the inly food for which the city/country is known for. After that I asked her about some of the customs and traditions that they have here she said that they share the same customs as the Turks for example braids wear a red built around their waist and they are not supposed to get up and dance because she should be sad that she is leaving her family. In what ways does your cultural identity influence your social networking at the university (QU), and why? She said that the fact that her job is all about meeting and socializing with students made her change a little bit, because according to her her culture is not as welcoming and as warm as the culture her and that had to change in order for her to succeed. Then I asked her wither or not she ever went through ethnocentrism after I explained the concept to her. She said that everyone here made her feel welcome and loved the only thing that she mentioned an incident where language barriers played a big part. Now miss Amra cannot speak Arabic and she realized that people expect her to speak it since she is a Muslim. she told me about an incident that occurred where a student came to her for advise and she was speaking Arabic and when miss Amra told her that she could not speak a word of Arabic, the student started yelling at her because she was Muslim and good Muslims speak Arabic and how the university should not hire people who do not speak Arabic since it is an Arabic community but the one thing that made this situation a whole lot better was that other Arabian students came to her defense. other than that she feels like Qatar is a second home to her. After that, I asked her what is the thing that she loves the most about this culture. her answer was food she loves Qatari cuisine and the fact that people are very down-to-earth because they eat using their hands she added that( mandey) is her favorite meal. Then I asked her about the value of family she said that in Islam it is an obligation for one to be close and in touch with their family and that got imbedded in our culture. Then I asked her about education and its value to her culture. she told me that education is a priority for them and that it’s very important, and because of that she pursued her M.A degree which is very common amongst them. Then I asked her about how do they view time in her culture. She answered with” time is very valuable and that wasting time is the equivalent to throwing out food in both cases we wasting gods gifts”. My last question to her was in your culture does your life evolve around work and wither it is a priority or is work secondary . she said that it’s a combination of both in her case she loves her job. and while she is in the office getting her job done is the priority but the second she leaves her work that’s it she never brings it into her home. And that it is very important to draw a line between the two and to never cross it. After that, she looked at her clock and then at me which In my opinion was a nonverbal communication code so I wrapped up the interview said that That was my last question for her and thanked her. she then thanked me for choosing her as my subject and left. I noticed that she left without shaking my hand and kissing my cheeks, that could be because of her noncontact culture or because she is my boss and that I would see her in an hour. In conclusion I think that her culture is very similar to mine even though we come from different continents we still both believe in the value of education, religion, and family the one thing we seem to disagree about is the concept of time.