In this essay, I explore my journey throughout my childhood that shaped who I am today. From being just another person in the crowd to finding myself, I came a long way, and a big reason for this was a friendship I made in 8th grade. In this essay, I explore the merging of two conflicting cultures – both jews and Palestinians – through the friendship I made. The development of core values, different interests, and views on the world are all more elements that I explore throughout my essay as well through this friendship. All in all, it is a piece that describes a big part of my life and is very important to me.
During my first two years in middle school, I was a lost kid, uneducated and confused. My opinions and morals were influenced by the people around me, my family and my friends. I was scared of change, of leaving what I had, of finding myself. I was that kid who wore athletic shorts, listened to rap, and only played football. At this time, my views on Palestinians were influenced greatly by my background. These views ranged from thinking that they were rude, selfish freeloaders, to terrorists. All my relatives and friends told me Palestinians were wrong, that they were bad people. They would tell me how they keep fighting for our land and how they believed the opposite of what we did. They would even show me videos sometimes of how they would come into Israel and get into fights with people. As I proceeded to become friends with my Palestinian friend Anthony, however, I began to look at things in a different way.
Midway though 7th grade, I joined a group of three kids, one a kid who was fully American, and one who was Palestinian. Now me being Jewish, you would imagine that there would be a little disconnect. We both knew our cultural differences, although we set them aside right away.. We never really brought them up, in fact I think the only time we talked about it was when we began to learn about it in history, and because we both had known each other for so long and were aware of how one person of each culture could be like, we never really got into the conflicts between the Jews and the Palestinians.
When me and Anthony first met, we instantly clicked through playing video games together. By doing this, we would interact every day for about 2 hours a day or more. I’ll always remember the time we talked about social interactions,about how interesting they are and how they worked,about how people approached new people and how their personalities adapt to others. Our cultural differences were never brought up in these conversations, or in any conversation really. Even though this doesn’t sound like the most exciting topic, to me and him it was, which is why I felt as if we instantly clicked. We’d be able to talk about anything for as long as we wanted.
Through these years, I have learned a lot about culture, not only Palestinian, but all culture – I’ve listened to their music, tried their food, and learned about its origins. Because he knew that I had known so little about his culture, he invited me to a parade celebrating Palestine. From eating Manakish flat bread to hearing some Palestinian music made by Mahmoud Darwish, I came to appreciate his culture even more after this parade. In comparison, his family ended up going to my brother’s bar mitzvah. At this bar mitzvah, his family would partake in Jewish tradition, being Jewish circle dances and the lifting of the chair. When my friend Anthony got up on the chair and was lifted to the Israeli tunes, it really showed me the merging of the cultures.
I have come to appreciate other cultures because of this friendship. I’ve come to realize that Palestinians are people just like us, and they shouldn’t be misjudged based on where they are from or the ideals that they hold. An example of this would be how I am now part of a club at Mountain View called Spartan Buddies, where I meet and help kids who are mentally unstable. With these kids, I help them through sports, class work, and just being more socially comfortable by always talking to them and always keeping them engaged socially. I look past their differences and try to help them rather than avoid them.
My friendship not only brought our families closer to each other, but also created a merging of two conflicting cultures. I learned to appreciate different cultures and their peoples, and I have taught my family to do the same.. Through this friendship I learned that you should never judge a person by how they identify culturally. I learned that if you get to know them you will get to see that they are just humans, like all of us.