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Standing together: The power of being independently dependent

Diploma Programme (DP) graduate Eman Elraie reflects on the importance of diversity in community. This is ­her second story in our graduate voices series.

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By Eman Elraie

“Even one individual act of kindness can make ripples against the hard current of adversity.”

Mati en sheva yelu. This action will have no echo.” This is one of my favourite lines in Leigh Bardugo’s novel Crooked Kingdom. The speaker was referring to how her people did not have a term for the word “sorry”, and instead used a phrase to convey that their mistakes or wrong doings will not be repeated or be followed by another mistake. This action will have no echo. But when you apply the same phrase to positive actions, I find that phrase is lacking. What about when you do good in the world? Even one individual act of kindness can make ripples against the hard current of adversity. Why not take this quote and turn it into a positive mantra where, our good actions create a chain reaction, a domino effect, for more?

When I first started the Diploma Program (DP), I had moved from one continent to another and, until my first day of school, I hadn’t appreciated the magnitude of the subtle term: diversity. But with the change of my environment and the shared journey that I was about to embark upon with my fellow colleagues, I began to dive deeper within it. In my DP psychology HL class, I was introduced to “Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions”. It describes how people see themselves in the context of their relationships to others, either as individuals (individualism) or as a part of a group (collectivism), as well as how these concepts contribute to the way we view the world and engage with one another as individuals or societies.

Hofstede’s original theory described the effects of sociocultural influences within a community on its members; the impact of an individual’s culture on their behaviours and values. As I grew out of the classroom and into the real world, I realised that I started focusing on myself more; I believed I needed to be better in order to not be bested by others. However, later, I began to realise how being better alone did not hold much merit or value. It happened when I started to contemplate what awareness really is and applied it to myself. I began to notice how being a part of a whole matters and is life as I know it. I can hold a façade of complete independence, but unless I (or anyone else) live in space, it is not true. I depend on other people and others depend on me; for support and service.

“Underneath all the visible differences that seem to divide us, we all share one fundamental value: empathy”

Our differences make us important to one another. If we were all certified physicians, there wouldn’t be political entities or anyone to fix our plumping and the world would be in chaos. Without a shadow of a doubt, improving merely for myself will surely have a positive outcome, but being aware of how we can have louder, more credible voices by improving, should not be viewed as only responsibility, but a true gift. Toni Morrison, novelist and professor emeritus at Princeton University, was a great example of such influence; she once said: “If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.” Urging action—in any field—will not only be in your best interest, but a stepping stone for many others. Whether it is recycling, reducing waste, donating, teaching or volunteering for community service or offering kind words and a smile. There is much that needs to be done and that could be done. Whenever I find myself frustrated with my own laziness I ask myself: What is wrong with taking action now? Why wait? Being aware of problems is not enough, taking action to solving them is what really counts.

It hit me when I heard Chris Hadfield, a Canadian astronaut who spent 166 days in space talk about my planet, our planet. On National Geographic’s program One Strange Rock, Hadfield pointed out that “this earth [is] one place. One shared place.” No matter who we are, or who we identify and belong with, “we are all crewmates on the same ship.” No matter where you and I descend from, we all share the responsibility to be better, not only for ourselves, but for others. It has been deeply integrated within us since the very start, whenever we are acknowledged for something good that we did—for ourselves or others—we instinctively look for our loved ones to share our triumph with and feel their spark of pride all around us.

“Urging action—in any field—will not only be in your best interest, but a stepping stone for many others.”

In fictional stories such as The Alchemist, movies like The Boy Who Would Be King and The Avengers, the protagonist faces adversity or an ordeal, that he or she needs to overcome to vanquish evil and restore order. However, with all their might, they can’t do it alone. They are in need of the right crew, different people with different sets of skills. An unstoppable force is born when heroes unite, while all hope be lost by their segregation. I believe that the message that comes from these inspiring stories: to unite and stand in the face of injustice and wrong, together. To do the right thing; that righteousness and kindness know no borders.

In a way, being an IB student or alumni, unites us all. Even though we come from different cultures and communities, with different beliefs and values, we still share the knowledge that we were taught and the skills that stack our arsenals by being IB learners. Raising awareness above ourselves and acknowledging that we are all different sides of a multidimensional coin will aid in uniting us. However, it is only the first step in our 1000-mile journey. First and foremost, we must take action accordingly. In Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist, Melchizedek says to Santiago that “when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” Who says that the universe can’t be just people like you and me, helping each other out? I believe that, underneath all the visible differences that seem to divide us, we all share one fundamental value: empathy. If in need for a more visual similarity, look no further from an X-ray; because underneath it all, we all have the same skeleton. And it is definitely something to consider because our actions do have echoes.

Eman

Eman Elraie is a graduate of St. Christopher’s School in Bahrain. She is currently an undergraduate at the University of Bahrain, majoring in the English Language and Literature and minoring in French. She published short stories and poems through a grant from the United States Embassy in Bahrain. Whenever, wherever, you are most likely to find her daydreaming, headphones on with a good book. You can connect with her on LinkedIn here.

To hear more from Diploma Programme (DP) graduates check out these IB programme stories. If you are an IB grad and want to share your story, write to us at alumni.relations@ibo.org. We appreciate your support in sharing IB stories and invite you to connect with us on LinkedIn, Twitter and now Instagram!

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