Friday, March 21, 2008

Do We Feel Good?!

Something I had in mind for a while now
“It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
It’s a new life
But still Iraqis are not feeling good”

This fact is tearing me apart. It is so hard for me to digest that we approached the fifth year of the invasion and still we suffer. Not from a tyrant but from a set of idiot people who believe themselves to be something. They lie, they steal the fortune of the country, steal people’s hope and they divide them into sectors and give them segments and treat them accordingly and pretend to be serving Iraq.

People think that the invasion is hurting Iraqis inside Iraq only and it’s only the matter of the residency that bothers Iraqis abroad. Today, I don’t want to underestimate the hard times Iraqis are facing and going through every day and every minute inside Iraq, nor do I want to highlight the hardship Iraqis undergo in foreign countries. All I want to talk about and all I’m concerned about is the next generation upraised abroad.

It could be just a byproduct that results from wars and refugee-life or it could be a part of the big plan, which doesn’t matter anymore because it is happening anyways.

The symptoms of the disease I am talking about are the loss of the identity of the next generation, the loss of the original dialect, the loss of longing to go a place called homeland or even worse by considering the foreign countries as their home.

I don’t want to include those who change their passports for necessity nor those who prefer to be someone else. We can see Frenchmen living in Britain or Asian living in the States. What hurts me the most is to see Iraqi children speaking other dialects and sometimes other languages and that is what I want to talk about. In UAE, I saw kids who speak no Arabic at all. When I ask the parent why it is so they say we want our kids to speak good English.

Those kids are sent to KGs and schools that use English as a first language and in best cases they take Arabic as a foreign language class. Those kids are mingling with other foreigner kids and communicate in English. The parents are obviously busy with their jobs and spend so little time with their children. The housekeeper is someone probably from some Far East country who speaks either broken English or broken Arabic.

Yesterday, I met two kids, a girl and a boy. Both of them were my teachers’ kids. The seven-year boy speaks a sweat Iraqi dialect; even though he occasionally uses a funny word either in UAE dialect because of the school he’s attending, or Egyptian because of the dubbing of cartoons in Arab world. On the other hand, the six-year girl speaks only English. At the beginning, I thought she was shy when I asked her about her name and she didn’t reply. After a while, I asked her again and the dad told me to ask her in English. I thought he wanted to brag about his daughter speaking English. And when I did, she didn’t reply again but this time he said to her “go ahead, reply” and she said Miriam. When I switched to Arabic she smiled and remained silent. He spoke with her in English and told me to ask her again. Then he said that she speaks only English and very little Arabic.

I asked him why it is so that she speaks English and he said that her mother wanted so. She thinks that she and her husband suffered a lot and lost so many chances for the lack of good English and she didn’t want that for her kids.

The same story I saw almost a year back but I thought it was rare. The mother works two shifts and the father is still in Baghdad. The daughter is being raised on the hand of governesses in KG and the mother insists that the grandparents should speak English with the grand daughter, even thought they speak broken English.

The language we use is a means of communication but most importantly it reflects the linguistic competence in our brains. That’s why it reflects our identity.

Those parents sure want the best for their children but the fact is at such ages the can teach them up to five languages, the more the better, which would be real of good benefits to the kids once they are older. By losing the language, the mother tongue, entire generation is being wiped off from the future of the country.

Statistics speaks of casualties and they still don’t seem to settle for a number, even thought the supposedly respected Iraqi government keeps underestimating the real number, but what makes me wonder the most is the fact that does it really matters if they were 1200 000 or 600 000 as long as the number keeps getting bigger and the number we’re talking about represent deceased human being who had families and behind each family nowadays there’s a sad stories that they would carry over generations and would hurt the future of Iraqis and how those families would perceive whoever behind those crimes.

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Blogger David said...

The past five years have been a terrible chapter in the lives of Iraqi people. I truly wish there had been no invasion, but wishes can not undo the damage that has been done. I worry about Iraq's children too. They are the most vulnerable, the most easily damaged by what has happened.

Attawie, I agree with you that language is a very important part of cultural identity. The world once had many thousands of unique cultures with many thousands of different languages. However, in recent history, and especially in the last 100 years, a very significant number of these cultures have essentially disappeared, along with their languages. I don't think that Iraqi dialects of Arabic are in danger of disappearing, however, I do understand your concern that the children of Iraqi refugees and expatriots are not learning the native language of their parents and their homeland.

I think that the parents who want their children to learn English believe that their children will find greater success in life if they have an excellent command of the English language. However, there are many ways to define success and happiness. I think that a person can derive great happiness and a sense of wellbeing by being rooted in a culture. One of the big problems in America, in my opinion, is that most people here really don't have a culture to identify with. People here may join with a particular religious group out of a longing to belong to a sort of tribe. But this is not the same thing as being a part of a culture. A culture is far more than a particular set of religious beliefs. In some ways, Iraq and America are similar. Both countries are an amalgum of different cultures that have come together to create a society. However, within Iraqi society, there are cultural affinities. For example, tribal relationships are an important part of the identity of many Iraqi people.

As you have said, it is a simple matter for a young child to learn more than one language. Simply learning a language is not the same thing as growing up in a culture, but it is an important tie that that culture. An Iraqi child living outside Iraq, but who learns Arabic, can some day return to Iraq and experience the culture of his or her homeland. Without their mother tongue, they can never really go home.

3/24/2008 11:15 AM  
Blogger Ali said...

"The language we use is a means of communication but most importantly it reflects the linguistic competence in our brains. That’s why it reflects our identity."

Very well said and I have to definitely agree with you.

3/26/2008 10:51 AM  
Blogger annie said...

very impressive post

3/28/2008 11:13 PM  

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