With miscommunication between inhabitants of the Western and Arab world’s one of the biggest problems we face on the planet, it stands to reason that 9 British students heading off on an expedition to help translate across the cultural divide might make a difference. In fact, they got a chance to relate a bit about the environment in the Middle East as well. Visiting Dubai and Oman to demonstrate how humans there have adapted in various ways to the harsh desert conditions.
It’s all part of the Offscreen Education Programme, using the creative power of art to educate and inspire youth via the web. Just one of the places they visited that fascinated me was the vacant Bedouin homes, built by the government to house that part of their local population. While spacious and apparently well built, they double as a monument to classic miscommunication between cultures, as the Bedouin were unwilling to actually move into them. That decision was based on the lack of distance between them and apparently difficult access to water supplies as well.
Observing much of what goes on in the world today I suspect our level of communication is often not too unlike that between the Bedouin and government personnel involving their homes. As communication between citizens about basic environmental issues often being skewed and distorted by special interest groups, those who simply fear any changes to their way of life, and those who simply haven’t taken the time to understand the basic science behind the problems we face. Of course then there are those who simply don’t believe in science, which just may be the most dangerous problem of all…
The expedition, which took place last February, ultimately seems to have been a tremendous success. Helping youth in the West get a glimpse of the Arab world through the eyes of their peers. And with more unique projects lined up from the Offscreen Education Programme like this one I suspect it’s probably worth giving their site a click now and then to see what’s up.