My Incredible Journey to Cultural Diversity!

How do you feel when exposed to a culture you have never experienced before?


Exactly! That was my state of mind when I joined this school in 2010.  

Just to let you all know, I work as a Chemistry teacher at a state-owned school in Doha-Qatar. This is an “All-Girls” school with students from different parts of the MENA region which includes Qatari, Palestinian, Jordanian, Egyptian, Lebanese, Sudanese, Syrian, Tunisian, Moroccan, Algerian, and very few from Pakistan and Bangladesh as well.

On my first day of school, I was warmly welcomed by the management and colleagues. However, I had a feeling of fear and insecurity about my future at this school!

How will I be able to cope with the cultural and religious differences?

How will I be able to maintain my own identity amongst people of different ethnic backgrounds?

I embarked on this new journey with a confused mind thinking, “Am I going to be lost or have found a NEW ROAD”?

It was great to see a couple of Indian teachers working with different departments. Ah, This brought me a deep sense of relief to me!

When I entered my class, I was quite astonished to see the students welcoming and accepting a FOREIGNER from DAY ONE!

I could hear some whispers while I drew organic molecules on the board. I guessed they were curious about my religion, language, marital status, etc. By the end of the block, one of the frank students asked about my native place in India. It wasn’t easy to explain as they had just known BOMBAY and DELHI! I explained to them, “I am from, a state very close to Delhi and neighboring Pakistan”. Then the other student asked, “Miss, do you know Shahrukh Khan?” The most surprising element came when they listed some of his movies that I hadn’t known or followed!

Wow! they are approachable and interested in exploring other cultures; that’s a GOOD START! I found them friendly and open-minded, and my fear started disappearing.

I learned so much about different cultures, religions, and beliefs in no time, which helped me connect with my students and colleagues.

MY CULTURAL connections

The best part of this journey was the time and the views we shared while exchanging cultures. These rich experiences have given me a deeper insight into my anti-racist beliefs and broadened my perspectives towards other cultures.

Most importantly, this journey has helped me to be culturally sensitive, diverse, and internationally-minded. I love calling myself “A GLOBAL CITIZEN”!

Every year, in April, we celebrate “International cultural week” at school.

Each department of our school takes up a country, and they train students for a skit, presentation, dance, or drama that showcases that country’s culture. It is such a wonderful experience to watch students dress up in colorful attires and use different languages during their presentations.

My Takeaway: For the past few years, I have been the ONLY INDIAN TEACHER left at the school, so, they always ask my department to depict India.

And, what we have not done to recreate the culture of INDIA in an ARAB school!

I remember training students for a FOLK DANCE, and to my surprise, on the final day, they performed even better than me! The crowd was so fascinated that they wanted it “ONCE MORE”

My students have played roles of prominent Indian personalities like INDIRA GANDHI, KALPANA CHAWLA, RANI LAKSHMI BAI, SANIA MIRZA, and AISHWARYA RAI, and the amount of energy they displayed has been incredible!  

The students and teachers would get so involved with the celebrations, and we decorated school areas with artefacts, pictures, and souvenirs from India. It was such a lovely sight to see all the teachers draped gracefully in sarees. (Although, we had a tough time getting dressed! But those moments TWINED ALL OF US IN A SPECIAL BOND!)

I have seen students exhibiting a variety of cultures so wonderfully!  I will never forget the sights of students performing the energetic “Dabkeh” of Palestine; mesmerizing “Khaleegy” and “Sword” dance of the Arabian Gulf; the traditional “Sudanese wedding”, and many more cultures were displayed so gracefully.

It was incredible to see our young audience applauding each performance!

They supported and celebrated the spirit of “INTERNATIONAL MINDEDNESS” and “CULTURAL DIVERSITY”!


Learning a different language is a great skill that anyone should aim for!

A language connects you to a new community more than anything else! As a foreigner, If you’re able to speak the language of that country, then you can make wonderful connections with the locals.

I failed in this aspect! I had used English for every task in and out of my classroom and never tried to develop my Arabic speaking skills! There were a couple of instances where I faced major challenges in maintaining and understanding school-related documents. (A big Thanks to google translate for being a great help these days!!). Thanks to all the fellow teachers who have been the TRANSLATORS for all the meetings, announcements, and curriculum-related work. It is smooth sailing nowadays with the translated textbook and the worksheets I have been using.

Nevertheless, the hilarious part of this story comes when some of my students ask me to translate a question from Arabic to English! AND YES! I could do that! They have understood that “Chemistry has its own language


My past experiences have helped me to self-reflect and share my perspectives on how an institution could promote cultural diversity and anti-racism.

Building a diverse and anti-racist environment is about changing how people THINK, FEEL, and COMMUNICATE! This is much more than just identifying cultural differences and taking NO FURTHER ACTION to resolve this critical issue!

Action is needed from ALL OF US!

In that case, What actions should parents, teachers, and management take to tackle this matter?

  • Parents should involve their children in “Cultural Exchanges” from an early age: Encourage your kids to develop friendships with people from different ethnic backgrounds. Take part in festivals and events hosted by different communities and utilize this opportunity to let your kids interact as much as possible! When having your “COZY FAMILY TIME”, watch documentaries and movies that cover stories and highlight indigenous people and their culture. Travelling is one of the best gateways to explore cultures. On a trip, let your kids interact with the locals, attend special events, try the cuisine, learn about their history and most importantly, “Appreciate their culture.”
  • Recognize and welcome the ethnic and cultural differences in your institution: While recruiting new staff, look for diversity as the main strength. When introducing the new teacher to the coworkers, exhibit a sense of pride for your diversified team!
  • Nurture a multicultural atmosphere: Find ways to integrate different languages, art forms, music, and traditions from diverse cultures. In the school library, collect appropriate resources and educational materials from all over the globe and encourage students to explore it.
  • Create a decision-making structure in which all cultural groups and genders have a voice and involve them in high-level decision making. This could be applied to the teacher as well as student groups.
  • Don’t laugh at each other but with each other: Teachers must use humor carefully in everyday conversations with colleagues and students. Try not to make an insulting joke or comment on anyone’s ethnic background; if someone is offended, they should say it was hurtful.
  • Try to use personal names to address each other and prohibit the use of any stereotypes.
  • Encourage a multilinguistic atmosphere and bridge language barriers by providing necessary support to students and teachers.
  • Incorporate features of different cultures in school activities, including; sports, school fairs, talent shows, drama, and cultural art shows.
  • Provide opportunities for people from different cultural backgrounds to work together on projects: Students gain richer experiences and develop a real sense of MULTICULTURALISM!

“The beauty of the World lies in the diversity of its people”

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