For this week’s cultural immersion activity, I visited a local area mosque and spoke with the Imam (the equivalent of a pastor or priest in a Christian environment). Having always wanted to learn more about the activities at the Mosque, I thought this was a great time to go…
On my visit, I discovered that the local mosque serves as a community center of sorts for people of the Muslim faith and, indeed, Islamic culture. It is a place for them to gather and be reminded of who they are and where they come from. The person spending time with me at the Mosque told me that it is not at all uncommon for them to have numerous gatherings where members socialize, eat, and reminisce about their own culture. Americans who are Islamic in the area find the Mosque to be a great place to learn more about a faith that is not widely practiced in the United States. In addition, they learn much about the culture of Islam and can transform themselves into another place and time. It certainly seems to be a wonderful way to bridge two cultures together and to achieve a balance between varying perspectives.
Visiting my local Islamic Center was truly a cultural immersion experience because little at the Mosque resembled my own culture. Indeed, visitors can really transform themselves into Islamic culture from the time they enter the building. This experience opened my eyes to a faith, culture, and people group that I admit I had little understanding about. It was not an experience in religious dogma. In fact, we talked very little about the religion of Islam. Rather, we focused on discussing issues of culture and how the West perceives those who are from a Middle Eastern, Arabic, or Islamic background. It was a healthy exchange of ideas, tempered with respect, and one that was both enlightening and educational.
Part of learning to appreciate other cultures is being able to simulate their feelings, emotions, and way of life (Nieto & Bode, 2012). Spending this time at the Islamic Center one afternoon and observing the comings and goings of the members was truly like witnessing another culture in action. The knowledge I gained enables me now to ...
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