Growing up, my Arabic was very weak. I was an avid reader of books in English, and at the age of six, I was able to speak the language fluently. My Arabic was not as strong. The people in my school, for whatever reason, decided to tease me constantly throughout my school years and mock me for being different.
I know I’m not the only one in the country that has been faced with this issue. All across the nation, you have people of different backgrounds constantly being put down and discriminated against because they didn’t fit the mould that their native classmates adhere to. It just angers me that certain people take it upon themselves to try and make themselves look great at another person’s expense or, as I previously stated, vilify another person just because they’re different, especially in Kuwait.
Let me give you an example: I have a friend that is half-Kuwaiti/half-Pakistani who I had met years ago through karate training. During his days in school, he would repeatedly be called “son of a maid” or “illegal immigrant”, as well as getting constantly beat up by other Kuwaitis who did not “approve” of his family’s background. Who are you to approve or disapprove of an individual’s ethnic roots? Both sides of his family had put aside their differences for the good of their family, yet these differences are still questioned and condemned by absolute strangers.
Another example came to me a few days ago, when a young 13 year-old schoolboy I know had come to me for advice. He started his education at a regular private school, and was constantly made fun of and beat up because he had some learning disabilities that caused him to learn at a slower rate than his classmates, so his parents moved him to another private school for children with special needs, assuming that this would fix the problem. After all, he was among young children like himself. As it turns out, this was not the case. He told me that he has been physically bullied by some older schoolmates ever since he had moved to the school and that he was too afraid to tell his parents, because they thought switching schools had fixed the problem.
Which begs the question: How to do we put an end to bullying once and for all? I personally think it would be a good idea to hold lectures about the long-term effects of bullying in public schools and universities, so that students know what the outcomes of their discrimination lead to. Also, I propose that parents make an effort to get more involved in their childrens’ school life, because you never know what could be going on, and what it might lead to. Finally, I think that young Kuwaitis should try to get to know their peers more; regardless of race or nationality. As for my part in the solution, my upcoming documentary will include a segment containing interviews and backstories on victims of bullying. Hopefully that when it is seen through your own eyes, you get a better sense of understanding about the situation itself.