8-18 Media: A kid from two different worlds
My sister and I were yelling at each other back and forth, surrounded by people with confused faces who were glancing at each other continuously and of course thinking, “What are they saying? Wow, Arabic sounds like such a harsh language.”
As you might now know, my name is Fahad and I’m the son of a Kuwaiti (my father) and an American (my mother). For the last 10 years of my life, I’ve been attending the number one private school in Kuwait. It is a bilingual school, so my entire life I had to learn both English and Arabic fluently. You might be thinking that this is something I’ll be grateful for in the future, but my sister and I used it to our advantage and would speak Arabic in different countries so that we could gossip without anyone knowing what we were saying…yeah, we definitely weren’t the brightest kids growing up.
But it was actually hard growing up living a life with the best of both worlds and let me tell you why.
Most summers since I started Kindergarten, my family and I would travel to Marquette, Michigan because we have family that live there. So, since I was a kid I’ve been learning and increasing my knowledge of two very (and I mean extremely) different cultures.
Kuwait is a country located in the Middle East, on the Arabian Gulf (Westerners would call it the Persian Gulf). Kuwait is the kind of place where you really can’t go out and be who you are or dress the way you would prefer. Kuwait also has many different holidays but personally my favorite holiday is Eid (there are actually two Eid holidays). You may be asking, “What events take place during Eid?” There isn’t really any big celebration. It’s more like adults spoiling children and young adults. Let me explain it as a procedure: Number 1, you visit your grandmother’s home with all of your aunts and uncles. Number 2, you have a feast and your family visits. Number 3, each family member hands you an envelope filled with money. Let’s just say be the end of Eid you definitely could go to the Apple store and buy whatever you dreamed of.
When I would visit my family over the summer in Marquette it was like I went on a spaceship and landed on a different planet. Everyone there was and is so wonderful (at least in my opinion). Of course, you’re familiar with all of the events that take place. Every day I spent there was astonishingly great. No dress code or anything. But if I were to pick between Kuwait and Marquette, Kuwait would be my first choice without second thoughts, because Kuwait is known to be a small country but it is large on the inside and has many traditions. Kuwait also has many places to visit and has one of the largest malls in the world. My favorite mall to go to on weekends occasionally is the Avenues (If you search The Avenues Kuwait on Google… you’ll understand.)
Growing up, school was tough. In our school, you have to start taking exams when you’re only in the 6th grade. I lived in a house filled with people that spoke English fluently all the time and not one word of Arabic (Don’t get me wrong… My sister and I would yell at each other in Arabic so that we wouldn’t get in trouble because my mom does speak Arabic but not fluently… so we definitely took that into our advantage once again) which is why Arabic class was always difficult in my opinion. Not only did we have to learn Arabic but we had to learn Classical Arabic. May I repeat, Classical Arabic since I started kindergarten. Although we learn Classical Arabic, no one really speaks it anymore. The Arabic we speak is known as the Khaleeji (Gulf) dialect of Arabic. So, let me show you my 8th grade subjects I had to take last year:
Social Studies (In Fluent Arabic)
Islamic Studies (In Fluent Arabic)
Science (In Fluent English)
Pre-Algebra (In Fluent English)
Model United Nations (In Fluent English)
First Aid (In Fluent English)
IT Robotics (In Fluent English)
Physical Education (Both Arabic and English… and yes this was my least favorite subject, no surprise.)
As you’re almost done reading I would like to say that I hope you understand how some kids find it difficult to be a part of two very different cultures. I’m not complaining because I’m a part of two different cultures, I’m simply explaining how much pressure it can be. I do think I’m lucky to have the experience to learn about two different cultures.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Fahad Meshal Ali Hussain Baqer Al-Abdullah is 14 years old and is a student at the Al-Bayan Bilingual School- Kuwait. He often spends his summers in Marquette visiting relatives. His hobbies include jet-skiing, exploring, playing card games, reading, MUN, jumping off diving boards and watching Game of Thrones.