My name is Michael Ghiloni and I am a junior at Loyola majoring in Global and International Studies with a minor in Arabic Language and Culture. Over this past winter break, I was able to share my passion for Arabic with an unexpected individual.
I had just boarded a plane en route to Boston on the first leg of travel to Dublin. Before takeoff, I started a conversation with my neighbor Sandra who just so happened to also be traveling to Dublin on the same flight as me. After talking about what our plans were for Ireland, we settled in for takeoff. I kept to myself for the first half of the flight, but I had noticed Sandra was working on some paperwork so naturally, I was curious as to what she was working on. I later found out she was an art professor, and she was finalizing a syllabus for a new course she was going to teach. We started talking about her course and I mentioned I was an Arabic student and how important calligraphy is to the language especially related to Islamic art. Sandra mentioned she had never written/drawn anything in Arabic before so in midflight, I offered a quick lesson in Arabic grammar.
I opened my notebook and let Sandra thumb through the pages to pick out a few words to write. In my notebook, I would write a word and she would copy in her journal. With each letter Sandra wrote, she was naturally curious as to what each letter meant in relation to English especially those that did not connect to others. In this brief lesson, I tried my best to condense as much 101 material as possible to give her a worthy explanation.
Throughout this interaction, I was reminded of our universal human identity. While on paper, Sandra and I had little in common and if it weren’t for our travel plans, we would have had slim to zero chance of ever meeting. However, during our flight, we forged a truly profound connection. Our experience was marked by a simple hallmark of the human condition, that is being able to share experiences and learn something new from one another. It is easy to succumb to divisiveness and let the little differences we share with our neighbors sow hostilities between us. I hope this story serves as a reminder of the power of different identities and perspectives when they are shared and embraced with others.