Monday, July 15, 2013

Looking for similarities

By Gulnura Toralieva, SUSI scholar from Kyrgyzstan

When discussing a diverse range of issues with people from different parts of the world one will often hear, “We have the exact same situation in our country!” Are the similarities of seemingly different countries really that surprising? Sometimes they just might be.

The Study in U.S program, or SUSI for short, has brought together media scholars from 16 countries spread across every corner of our small globe, with Malaysia and India at the one side, Chile and Honduras at another, and having Mozambique and Zambia somewhere in the middle. This is a very simple map overview for a person who has never studied geography and who thinks that their homeland is very different from the rest of the world, when in fact most of us share common concerns.

Kyrgyz Artur and Honduran Arturo

Kyrgyzstan and Honduras are not as different as you may think. They are small countries in Central Asia and Central America fighting for democracy; they are going through political and economic turbulence. Both countries have the highest poverty rates in their regions but share a dream to become rich and happy in the nearest future. Honduras and Kyrgyzstan have nearly the same land area and population size. They also have hydropower potential and significant deposits of metals, including gold. One may disagree on all the similarities we have but why should I care if I’m looking for similarities. Moreover now we have more to share: my son’s name is Artur and my Honduran roommate’s husband is Arturo too…

Ladies’ interests

 “I share the room with ladies from Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and Equator. These are such different countries, but we all care about the same things. Every morning we dress up nicely, do our make-up routine and in general we do everything to look good. Oh and of course we think of ways to lose weight,” says Sharon from Malaysia. Most of the ladies in our small group of SUSI scholars have pleasant appearances, but there is a special lady from Bangladesh who makes us enjoy her beautiful national dresses. “In our country you cannot wear any of this casual type of dress that you have in your countries and in the U.S. It will look really weird,” says Shabnam from Bangladesh.

The huge world of popular culture has created a set of “ideals” where people are pressured to believe that we should look all skinny and full of makeup…

Men are men everywhere and they love beer

It is always good to see how beer can help make friends. Ohio State has several dozens of beer breweries which most of our male scholars really enjoyed. Drinking beer is a social experience and part of tradition for most people and cultures worldwide. However, you cannot write about this openly in U.S as the regulation of the alcohols market is very strict here. Though my point is different, the beer-drinking culture around the world is something that is very similar for most of our male scholars.

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