My Friend is a Palestinian Bedouin: XVIII. Uncertainty Avoidance, Language and Communication

My Friend is a Palestinian Bedouin: XVIII. Uncertainty Avoidance, Language and Communication

My Experience of “Language and Communication”

The challenges in this field were cognitive, behavioral and emotional. I needed to learn a new language, not only the words, but also their cultural interpretation. I succeeded in doing so to some degree. I can create a simple conversation in Arabic and can do my shopping without using other languages. I every so often catch myself thinking in Arabic when I am alone. My experience is that acquiring a different language comes with the development of a new part in my identity. It is as if I am a little different when I think in different languages. Still, my knowledge of the language is insufficient for many social situations. I found it disheartening to interpret Bashar’s ambiguous behavioral responses, and often erred in reading the context. Sometimes these situations substantially raised my level of anxiety. For example, I would make some kind of effort and did not know whether he appreciated it or was annoyed. As much as I can understand Bashar’s intention not to hurt my feelings, I usually became irritated for not being plainly told “no” when appropriate (in my culture), because it put me unnecessarily in the position of waiting for or expecting something. During the years, I improved in communicating with my Bedouin friends, and also Bashar became somewhat more direct with me, but until these days it remains a challenge. I feel never certain that I understand rightly and am never sure that I am understood in the way I want to be understood.

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About the Author

Daniel WeishutDaniel J.N. Weishut, born in the Netherlands but living in Jerusalem, is a professional with a diverse background. He holds an MA in Clinical Psychology and an MBA in Integrative Business Administration, both from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and a PsyD in Clinical and Organizational Psychology from the Professional School of Psychology (Sacramento). He has about thirty years of experience in consultation and therapy with a wide variety of clients and issues, more than twenty years of practice in group facilitation, and over fifteen years of know-how in governance and management in various organizations. Daniel Weishut offers his services as a "Partner on the Way", while taking a world-view that people are diverse but equal. He works with a variety of clients, but his special interest is in work with those who have found themselves persecuted or otherwise in conflict with their social environment, because of their culture, identity or belief system. For example: migrants, expats, refugees, Holocaust survivors, soldiers, pacifists, and individuals from religious, cultural or sexual minorities. Daniel Weishut is a social activist and in this capacity he volunteers as Chairperson of the Israeli Association of Group Psychotherapy, as Member of the Membership Appeals Committee of Amnesty International and as forensic expert for the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel. He also is involved in raising awareness about the situation of Bedouins around Jerusalem; awareness which led among others to the writing of his dissertation "My friend is a Palestinian Bedouin: Challenges and opportunities in intercultural friendship".

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