The capital city of Iraq, Baghdad, is where I was born. It is a unique city in the whole country. To start with, it is the country's most populated city. As at the end of the year 2016, Baghdad had a population of approximately 8,765,000 people. This means it is the second largest city after Tehran to the west of Asian continent. Baghdad also lies to the west of River Tigris. It was established in the 8th century and has evolved ever since to be an intellectual, commercial and cultural city. The city also is a harbor to many institutions of higher learning.
Baghdad is a city that is very rich culturally with the National theatre being one of its sources of heritage. Some institutions offer cultural education like the Ballet School of Baghdad and the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra which is financed by the Iraq government for its cultural activities. There are those that have specialized in playing native Iraqi music and makes use of Arab instruments and music.
It is my love and passion for culture that makes me get inspired by Baghdad culture. On top of the love for culture, I played the Ballet during my young days. The main language for the Bagdad's is Arabic. This was my first language having been born and spent my early childhood in this great capital of Iraq. The first language acquisition has a lot of influence from the cultural orientation and the parenthood.
To be born and be raised in a particular group brings many experiences that impact on a person's affiliation with a specific group. Born in Baghdad which is a city with so many people made me a social being. I was able to interact and socialize formally and informally especially with my peers and age mates. Through this, a sense of belonging was created. Indeed, as we studied our religion and Islam, which is my faith, molded and made me a better social being.
Messages from parents, grandparents and other caregivers = about being a member of a particular group.
Parents and guardians play a very critical role in the upbringing of a child. Language, which is a key component of culture, is passed on to the child by the parents and the guardians or caregivers. Which a child acquires and speaks has more to do with upbringing and parenthood. My parents taught me how to speak my native language Arabic. Parents play the role of a teacher in assisting their children acquires language and other communication skills. This happens as soon as a child is born. A parent engages his or her child to language naturally from the first day of birth. It is awesome to see how parents adjust to baby talk and this continues as the child grows, and the parent will take the child's talk. This was the role my parents played perfectly to enable me to acquire and develop my first language Arabic.
Research has shown that children develop language and communication skills as they grow but the quality varies across the board. The level of parental involvement determines the child's success as the child grows as well as academically in school. My parents took time to train me how to speak and express myself in my language vividly. They took time to speak with men more frequently.
Another thing that my parents trained me was on socialization. Being social makes an individual integrate well with other members of the society and be a member of a social grouping. It is not easy to impart these skills to young children, but my parents did it so well. This is because my parents knew of my love and passion for inter-cultural diversities. From a young age, I had the interest in learning different languages. Language is part of the culture, and my parents supported me fully. My parents were motivated to make me an educated person and ignited my ambition fully.
My parents also ensured that I learned and practiced Islamic as a religion since my tender age. This, they did well with my extended family and other caregivers who were entrusted to take care of me. The people who interact with a child in the tender age are crucial in determining how the child behaves in group settings. My love and passion for learning other languages made my parents and the caregivers entrusted to me teach and train me on how to co-exist in group settings.
My parents also played a significant role in assisting me to be a patriot in my mother country since I was small. They imparted me with values to be a Nationalist of being an honest and a person of integrity. Islam is the dominant religion in Baghdad. My parents encouraged and taught me the essence of being a Muslim and always reading the holy book. This made me appreciate the value of living together in any group that I interacted with. These groupings included those in institutions of learning, mosques and when learning how to play the ballet. Even when my family relocated to Turkey, my parents and caregivers continued teaching and showing me how to integrate with the people that I came across.
Messages that I received from my parents about socializing with family members and the community.Parents play a crucial part in making their children understands the value of being part of a family and the community at large. My parents taught me the practice of sharing meals together. This brings about bonding and ensures that the family remains the first social unit and extends to the community at large. I received messages such as the family that eats together and prays together will always remain bonded together as one. Also, my parents taught me that one could not live like an island. Interaction among the community members is a key element of survival. The community I was born and raised is diverse, and we did many things together. This included prayers in the mosque, schooling among other common activities. To ensure that our family was unified, my parents ensured that we assisted each other in the preparation of food, serving as well as taking the meal. There were consequences if one failed to play a part in this process. Sometimes, we could invite relatives and friends to accompany us in social functions or dine with us. This helped us acquire skills of living together in society and the community at large.
Having a great interest in learning other languages and cultures boosted my social interaction. I can speak and express myself vividly and effectively in Spanish, English and Turkish. This is on top of my Arabic language.
Messages I got as I was growing regarding socializing/ marrying outside my national/ ethnic/ religious/ linguistic group.
When it comes to socialization, I got a lot of encouragement from my parents and my caregivers about socialization. They encouraged me to be a team player and socialize effectively with whoever I met. Through socialization, I was able to learn the three languages outside my native Arabic. When it comes to marriage, several factors come into play. First, my parents knew of my interest in learning different languages like Spanish, English, and Turkish. Getting a marriage partner outside one's linguistic group would help one learn more languages. This would also create a new, different social group and culture. It is my hobby to learn different languages would play well if I married outside my linguistic group. My parents supported and encouraged me to get a partner outside our native Baghdad. Being a widely traveled person also made me create social networks with people from different nationalities. The culmination of this was the visit to England with my parents.
On the other hand, as one grows, advises on getting a marriage partner with whom you share a common cultural orientation and religious affiliations are common. I got several messages from those that I grew advising me on how and where to get a good marriage partner. A person with interest in learning languages of different languages like me would be best placed by getting a marriage partner from a different linguistic and national affiliation. Religion is also a very important consideration when it comes to marriage. I am a Muslim, and I got messages encouraging me to have a partner from the Muslim Religion. I received these messages with a lot of positivism.
Do you think of yourself as belonging to a particular nationality, religious, ethnic or linguistic group? If so, which ones, and why?
Having been born in the capital city of Baghdad in Iraq makes me have a belonging as an Iraq nationality. I was also inducted into Islamic religion at Baghdad, and that became my religion ever since. I also have an identity regarding ethnicity. I affiliate in a particular cultural group. Arabic is also my first language. This means that I belong to a particular nationality which is Iraq. I also belong to a particular religion which is Islamic. My linguistic group is Arabic. This brings an element of identity and belonging. This is in spite of my interaction with people of different linguistic, cultural and social groupings. Learning Turkish, Spanish and English did not erode my religious and cultural beliefs.
How long have you been aware of your cultural identity? What triggered your awareness of this aspect of your identity?
The sense of belonging, a feeling of identification and being affiliated with a particular group that may be based on ethnicity, gender, race, religion or nationality is cultural identity. Cultural identity is formed by sharing common traditions, language, customs, and norms. An individual can affiliate with more than one cultural group which makes cultural identity complicated.
Since I was born, I have been learning my cultural practices, religion, and national values all of which form part of cultural identity. Even after moving from Baghdad to Turkey at the age of thirteen years, I still maintain my religion as a Muslim.
My knowledge and awareness of my cultural identity were brought about by my interaction with my parents and the people around me. On the issue of religion, attending the teachings in my early childhood taught me a lot about what it takes to be a Muslim. The Arabic culture and language were imparted to me by my parents.
How has your background influenced the way you express yourself, verbally and non-verbally?
An individual's background plays a significant role in the way that individual expresses him or herself both verbally and non-verbally. The background defines how one is socialized, live and pass information from one person to another. Language is the first cultural aspect that a child develops after birth. My parents and caregivers entrusted to me taught me how to express myself verbally using our Arabic language. This also assisted me in learning other languages effectively like Turkish, English and Spanish.
On the other hand, non-verbal communication which involves the use of facial expressions, tonal variation, voice pitch, gestures and the distance between communicating parties is also learned and acquired based on one's background. I learned a lot on the various gestures applied at a tender age. These included waving, beckoning, acknowledging and appreciating among others. More than half of our day to day conversations is done using non-verbal means. That is why learning this aspect was very crucial. Non-verbal communications vary depending on one's culture, and the country one originates. One gesture may mean precisely the opposite in two countries. My love for knowing how to communicate different languages also boosted my understanding of different non-verbal cues and gestures in the countries I visited. Having an understanding that thee non-verbal signals mean differently in different countries sharpened my keenness and curiosity when I visited Turkey and later England. My language and culture made me understand a lot of self-confidence other people's culture and language as they expressed themselves verbally and non-verball...
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