I had an interesting conversation with my piano studio class today. There are only 5 students in it plus the instructor. We were discussing Western vs Easter/Arab music. Most of the conversation involved the middle east region not having an "identity" in the music world; when most think of classical music, they think Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin, and so on. The middle east doesn't seem to have their own style of music and the little they have, without it being passed between generations, is close to being lost forever. One way or another, this led to the opinions of mine and my instructor's (who is Spanish but also studied at Indiana University in the US) conversation of preconceived notions between the western world and the Arab world.
When I first began to tell people I might be studying in the UAE for a semester, I got several strange looks and reactions. A girl in this class brought up the fact that many American's see the middle east as simply terrorists. Because there is a war going on, few people can see the good that comes from this region. I want to be a pioneer on this and settle and disputes over the subject. I have met people from almost every country in the area: Emiratis, Saudis, Jordanians, Syrians, Nigerians, Egyptians, Iranians, Iraqis, Palestinians, people from Yemen, Oman, Somalia, Afghanistan, Bulgaria, Russia, Georgia and everywhere in between.. and not one of them, even knowing I'm American, didn't welcome me with open arms. I want to share with the world the kindness of the people and put to rest and uneasiness here is in anyone's mind.
Both the United States and the Middle East have so much to offer. It is a shame that the media portrays it in disturbing ways. Even with the disputes in Egypt now, the media can give an opinion and without first hand knowledge otherwise, it's hard to tell the real story. I will leave you with this: To everyone in America - if you ever have the opportunity, get out and travel to a world completely unknown to you. People can surprise you in a good way.