EDITOR’S NOTE: The ArmchairMayor.ca is proud to introduce a new columnist today in the person of Nada Alsalahi, a TRU Journalism student from Saudi Arabia. Nada will be writing about the things that we have in common.
IT WAS BACK in August 2012 when I stepped onto an Air Canada Express-Jazz plane coming to Kamloops. I came with a blank mind and open eyes to this new city, perhaps, this new country. The airplane looked so small compared to the others I used to travel by.
“Welcome to Kamloops! IS it your first visit to town?” said the lady who was sitting next to me. I was surprised by how kind she is, and also surprised how she knew that I’m a new visitor. But I have to admit it. I acted like a stranger, since everything was strange for me.
“Thank you! … Yes, it’s my first time,” I replied to her. She started introducing the city and pointing to places that were seen even up in the sky. “It is a small city. And we will probably encounter each other in the mall one day,” she said while laughing.
I jumped off the plane. And I was wondering: is everything that small and close?!
Coming from Saudi Arabia, I have heard a lot about how ‘polite’ Canadians are. But on the other hand, I’ve also heard about how different they are as well.
“You can never fit in,” some people said.
I had two different images about this country. White one, and a black one. I decided to erase both of them and have an empty paper to draw a new image that my personal experiences will shape. And I ended up having a different image than what I’ve been told.
And now, I understand how individuals’ experiences shape their perceptions. Just as Anaïs Nin says in his famous quote, “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” Are we? Really? Then are we ever going to know what things really are?
Yes, I ask a lot.
I question everything. And I don’t believe in right or wrong answers. Everything could be right somehow, and wrong somehow. Everything is a matter of perception and circumstances. This is how I view everything in life. And this is how I view cultures. This is what a small town has been teaching me about this big word ‘Cultures.’ Through its multiculturalism, Canada has its impact on me. No culture is better than the other, they are just different. But are they really different? I don’t think so.
Similarities are everywhere, and they are bringing people from all over the world to study, work, live, think and interact with each other.
Under one roof called ‘Freedom,’ people become similar. No matter who they are, where they come from, what language they speak. They are all humans.
As an Arab-Muslim woman living in Canada, I’ve been through different experiences that I’m more than excited to share. My name is Nada, and I’m a student at TRU, but more importantly, a student of life. I have been in Canada for five years, and I’m still looking to encounter my airplane friend 🙂
Nada Alsalahi is a Saudi Arabian student enrolled in the Journalism program at Thompson Rivers University.