Friday, December 11, 2015

Story of Naomi Shihab Nye, the Arab Girl - found on the Internet


Frank Somerville KTVU
 with Amit Choudhary.
I found this story to be fascinating.
It’s about what happened at an airline gate.
And it’s a reminder that even though we’re all different.
We're really all the same.
We’re all human.
It’s very easy to stereotype someone.
Based on how they are dressed.
How they talk.
Or how they look,
We’ve all done it.
(I know I sure have even though I hate to admit it)
But if you take a moment to move beyond that, it’s amazing what can happen.

Here is a slightly condensed version of the story told by a woman named Naomi Shihab Nye:

Photo by Manon Clavelier

After learning my flight was detained 4 hours, I heard the announcement: If anyone in the vicinity of gate 4-A understands any Arabic, please come to the gate immediately.
Well—one pauses these days. Gate 4-A was my own gate. I went there.
An older woman in full traditional Palestinian dress, just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing loudly.
Help, said the flight service person. Talk to her. What is her problem?
We told her the flight was going to be four hours late and she did this.
I put my arm around her and spoke to her haltingly.

Shu dow-a, shu- biduck habibti, stani stani schway, min fadlick, sho bit se-wee?

The minute she heard any words she knew she stopped crying.

She thought our flight had been canceled entirely.

She needed to be in El Paso for some major medical treatment the
following day. I said no, no, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just late,

Who is picking you up? Let’s call him and tell him.

We called her son and I spoke with him in English.

I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on the plane and would ride next to her—Southwest.

She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it.

Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and found out of course they had ten shared friends.

She was laughing a lot by then. Telling about her life. Answering

She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies—little powdered sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts—out of her bag—and was offering them to all the women at the gate.

To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. 

The traveler from Argentina, the traveler from California,
the lovely woman from Laredo—we were all covered with the same
powdered sugar. And smiling. There are no better cookies.

And (then) I looked around that gate and thought,
this is the world I want to live in. The shared world.

Not a single person in this gate—once the crying of confusion stopped—has seemed apprehensive about any other person.

This can still happen anywhere.

Not everything is lost.

- Naomi Shihab Nye

After reading this story I looked at some of the comments.
And they were just as good.

Here’s one of them:
"I remember, my husband and I were traveling by train from Spain to France, and the train stopped for hours in the mountain.
As the time passed, we fretted that our hotel wouldn't keep our room as our cell phone wasn't connecting, and we spoke little French.
The lady behind us used her own phone to call our hotel. 
Then everyone in the train car began sharing their food. 
One couple had wine, another grapes and fruit.
We had cheese and bread and olives.
Everyone shared a bit of what they had, and we all had a picnic. 
No one worried about language, or culture. 
We were people, stuck on a train. 
The world can be a place of hope, if we let it."
Another person said:
"This world would be perfect if we let go of fears and judgement.
And I refuse to give up on humanity because I know people like these exists."
And finally there was this person:
"This is really all it takes for peace; to sit down and break bread with your "enemy", to laugh together, look each other in the eye and simply acknowlege- we are all sons, daughters, brothers, sisters and we all bleed the same blood."
I couldn’t have said it any better myself.
And if you've ever had an experience like this please feel free to share it.

Here is a link to the original story:

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