The majority of the world population knows about the United States, its people, culture and politics. However, not all Americans know much about the countries on the other side of the planet, particularly the Middle East. The importance of measuring how much Americans know about the Middle East is to determine whether the lack of knowledge about the aforementioned region in the world is the cause of misunderstanding its people’s social behaviors and traditions. In order to measure the Americans’ extent of knowledge about the Middle East, a random survey was conducted to 79 participants consisting of both male and female from a mix of African, Caucasian and Asian Americans between 18 to 25 years old. This survey was conducted to address three important questions.
- How well do Americans know about the Middle East?
- What does knowing Middle East entails?
- What is the significance of being knowledgeable about the Middle East for an American?
The method used to investigate is by administering random survey in a form of a questionnaire consisting of six questions pertaining to the basic characteristics of the people, culture and traditions in the Middle East. The survey was conducted electronically through a free survey website called Surveymonkey.com. The survey was administered to the participants by means of posting the Surveymonkey.com link in Facebook status and by asking peers and connected friends to post the link to their own status boards as well. The responses to the survey were collected and consolidated automatically by the survey website for easier determination of the results.
The results of the survey indicates that the majority of the participants know about the Middle East, which translates to a possibility that the majority of the American population might also have the same notion about the Middle East.
Figure 1 Results of the Responses from the Survey (R=responses per each question line, Q=questions).
Based on the findings, the American people are aware that the spoken language in the Middle is mostly Arabic and it can be perceived by looking at the high percentage of respondents that selected Arabic marked as R3 in the graph. Similarly, the manner of writing in the Middle East is from Right to Left, which according to the table of responses 65.5% of the sampled individuals already knows about it. For Q6 to Q8, it requires the participants to select whether they agree or not with the given statement. Example, Q6 in the survey is asking whether the spouse’s relatives are the ones that take care of the wedding. In the Middle East, the family members of each side are all taking part in the preparation of a family member’s wedding. However, the groom’s side is the one provides housing and equipment for the household of the newly wed (Rashad, Osman and Roudi-Fahini 2).
The results of the survey were able to determine that Americans do know much about the Middle East. The importance of knowing the Middle East for Americans includes establishing a peaceful relationship with the Middle Eastern people and eradicates misconceptions about them. This would entail a more peaceful existence between the two cultures and establish diversity. Greenberg (1995) wrote in her published work for the American Forum for Global Education, “Although we speak of the Muslim Middle East. The region has many ethnic groups. We have tried to present some of the voices which express the diversity of the region” (34). This states that diversity as a response to the issue of identity and the conflict that goes along with misconceptions about Middle Eastern identity. Although, this survey creates a manifestation of that Americans do know about the Middle East, it would have been more comprehensive study by means of adding related literatures that would back-up the theoretical framework and rationale of the survey. It is also important that further studies should demonstrate a much profound objective for conducting the survey.
In conclusion, the fact that the Americans do know much about the basics of Middle Eastern culture and traditions, there is still a lot more that the American people should learn about the culture. The misconceptions and underlying thoughts about the Middle East varies from one person to another, but what’s important is the ability of the Americans to embrace diversity and comprehend cultural differences as a form of national identity.
Greenberg, Hazel S. Spotlight on the Muslim Middle East: Issues of Identity, Teacher Guide. New York, USA: American Forum for Global Education, 1995. Print.
Rashad, Hoda, Magued Osman, and Farzaneh Roudi-Fahimi. "Marriage in the Arab World." Population Reference Bureau 0.1 (2005): 2. Web. 18 Apr. 2013.