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It is evident that the world around us is different and people in various countries are facing unimaginable challenges. Raising awareness about these issues and enhancing the understanding of the culture that affects the perception of individuals, as well as the history of continents such as Africa, can help locate solutions to various social injustices. This paper aims to present a personal reflection on the enhancement of global awareness and myths about Africa, as well as provide an example of learning outside of class.
This class helped me by introducing ideas that I was unaware of before, and I noticed that I was able to learn outside of course as well by applying these concepts. Firstly, I became aware of the fact that people such as refugees are affected by circumstances they have no control over. Class homework and discussions of the material such as BBC News Inside the World’s Most Prominent Refugee and the book Of Beetles to Angels provided me with an understanding of experiences that people have in different parts of the world.
For instance, the video from BBC News that was explored in this class highlighted the problematical circumstances that some people have to overcome. The video in question displays a camp in Kenya that functions as a city because of the large number of refugees. Seeing this material made me realize that people around the globe have to deal with many difficulties daily. Mohamed, who told his story to the BBC News, mentioned that both his wife and he were born in the camp and raised their children there as well (BBC News, 2016). The inconvenience of such living conditions is evident since those places are meant for a temporary stay.
It is difficult to imagine having to live in similar conditions without access to proper education, healthcare, and the ability to work for a decent salary. Moreover, the video states that this camp is considered the third-largest city in the country while its citizens earn a wage of approximately $100. Thus, this course helped me understand the importance of global issues and the need to help in any way possible to improve the lives of others.
Another important aspect of this course that contributed to enhancing my awareness of global issues is the discussion of the book Of Beetles to Angels by Mawi Asgedom. In this work, Asgedom (2002) describes his journey from a refugee camp to becoming a Harvard graduate. This story is remarkable, and its exploration helps one get a better understanding of the issues that modern-day refugees deal with in the US because unlike the BBC News story, these events took place in America.
Asgedom (2002) was given a chance to move from the country in which a civil war took place to the US, which was facilitated by the World Relief organization. The example of this man provided me with an understanding of the fact that refugees deserve an equal chance of living in a war-free zone and having access to education and other facilities.
Before this class, I was not familiar with global issues and their effect on the people of the world. Primarily, I would encounter information about refugees or civil wars in remote countries through the news. However, I did not understand the implications of these problems and the impact that these circumstances have on people. Currently, I pay more attention to news articles that display similar events, and I dedicate more time to thinking about how I can help these people through donations or by raising awareness among my peers.
Africa from Different Perspectives
Unarguably, the essential learning outcome of this class is the understanding of myths that exist regarding Africa and its history. When looking at African countries, the outsiders may not be aware of the alterations that took place in the area, instead of focusing on what seems to be truthful without referring to facts. Kelland and Sanchez (2018) wrote an article that depicts modern myths about Africa that are not true as a response to President Trump’s recent commentary regarding African immigrants.
This instance is an ideal illustration of the false beliefs that outsiders use in their evaluation of these people. The first difference of views is in the fact that outsiders believe that these states are in poverty. Insiders know that the region is considered to be among the world’s fastest-growing economies (Kelland & Sanchez, 2018). Besides, the common misbelief is that these people live in huts, although in reality, most of the population resides in the urban area.
One must examine another example from different perspectives to understand these misbeliefs about Africa. Firstly, Mustakeem (2016) explains slavery and the conditions that people were subjected to on ships, which is known by outsiders as the history of the continent. Undoubtedly, this violence shaped the culture and attitudes of Africans towards others. However, Marshall (2015) presents a description of natural wonders, while The Lost Libraries of Timbuktu (n.d.) video depicts the historical value of the tribes and culture of the continent.
Thus, outsiders may believe that African people do not have a valuable cultural background, unlike insiders. The difference of the actual state of things in Africa, which is familiar to those living there, and the misbeliefs of outsiders provides an understanding of the need to raise awareness of this issue.
Learning outside Class
One instance that helped me understand the importance of enhancing the awareness of global problems was an encounter with a friend. In general, based on the information he knew, it could be concluded that my friend did not believe that refugees from African countries can be helped. It was evident that he was not aware of the actual state of African economic and social life because, from his perspective, refugees would be unable to integrate into our society due to language issues and cultural differences.
The course material provided me with some evidence, such as the real-life story of Mawi Asgedom and common misbeliefs regarding African countries. I decided to locate additional information on the topic to have more evidence. For instance, Simmons’s (2018) work argues that based on recent research, people from Africa are more educated than those born in the US. I presented my opinion to this friend, together with my summary of Of Beetles to Angels and other works on this topic that I read, which helped me change his opinion.
Overall, this class raised my global awareness, which is reflected in my understanding of issues such as refugees escaping civil wars in Somalia or the modern perception of African people in the US. Additionally, this course helped me understand that I can both learn outside the classroom and help others around me become more aware of the described problems. In general, the perception of Africa and its inhabitants are different when comparing the views of insiders and outsiders, which affects the attitudes towards citizens of these countries.
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Asgedom, M. (2002). Of beetles and angels: A boy’s remarkable journey from a refugee camp to Harvard. Boston, MA: Little, Brown, and Company.
BBC News. (2016). Inside the world’s biggest refugee camp – BBC News. Web.
Kelland, Z., & Sanchez, E. (2018). 15 reasons African countries aren’t ‘shitholes’. Web.
The lost libraries of Timbuktu. (n.d.). Web.
Marshall, T. (2015). Prisoners of geography: Ten maps that tell you everything you need to know about global politics. London, United Kingdom: Elliott & Thompson, Scribner.
Mustakeem, S. M. (2016). Slavery at sea: Terror, sex, and sickness in the middle passage. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press.
Simmons, M. A. (2018). African immigrants are more educated than most — Including people born in U.S. LA Times. Web.