Muhammad Jawahir is a Pakistani student studying Project Management at Edmonds Community College (EdCC) through the Northwest Community College Initiative (NWCCI) program. In this blog post, Jawahir illuminates the amazing impact that cultural exchange and international education can have in the world. On Wednesday, Nov. 19, Edmonds NWCCI students partnered with the Diversity Student Center for a Cultural Celebration where students shared information about their respective countries and cultures in honor of International Education Week. The following story is about what happened next.
After our cultural presentations in Brier Hall, we packed up everything and returned to our apartments in Rainier Place. A handsome person with a big smile greeted us as usual; it was our friend Yaniv Koblentz who is a fellow resident and a part-time employee at Rainier Place. Yaniv was born in Tel- Aviv, Israel. He moved to Canada at age 14 and recently graduated from CWU with a double major in Law and Justice and Social Science.
On that day, he was working at the front desk, and we offered him a Pakistani flag pin and a bracelet that he happily accepted. Yaniv did not want to show us his emotions at the time, but my friend Yaniv was very emotional. With his permission, I am sharing a video he recorded and posted on Facebook.
It is a misconception that a Muslim and a Jew cannot be friends because of their religions. We prove that this is not true, we can be very good friends and I feel this video does a good job of explaining that. The reality is that every religion is beautiful, every religion shares peace, love and interfaith harmony, but unfortunately we use religion for our own cause, that’s the big issue for us and for our society.
We cannot always rely on information and news we get from third sources such as the media. It is my personal experience that, before arriving in the United States, my ideas were very different than now, because now I am experiencing the U.S. directly. Honestly via media and other sources, I used to hear that Americans do not like Muslims especially Pakistanis and I was worried. Now I have been here for the last four months and I feel that, I am more comfortable here than in my home. The people living here are very friendly, helpful and caring, they just believe in humanity. In addition, the U.S. is the host country for the world, where people from different countries share their culture with each other.
I live in Rainier Place and in my single dorm, we are four people from four different countries: Pakistan, Japan, South Africa, and Serbia and we identify with three different religions: Islam, Christianity, and Buddhism. In spite of all of these differences we are not just comfortable with each other, but we are very good friends, we share our traditional foods with each other, have parties, and enjoy each other’s company. I am very comfortable with all these people, and I feel this is an excellent example of diversity here in U.S.
The NWCCI program is part of the Community College Initiative, an exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.