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Humans of the World: Shiri

“I’m sorry, after what happened in the United States, we don’t feel comfortable having you as a roommate because of your origin”

That was the response I received while I finalized the first step of my Fulbright scholarship requirement, which was to find a place. Only then, I knew that moving here would not be as easy as I imagined.

I started the semester with a significant level of unease. I legitimately questioned whether people are really petrified of a five-foot, little-bit-over-100-pounds person like myself! Hence, I opted to embody the role of the invisible observer. I carried on as if I was watching a movie where people talk, laugh and have conversations, while I sit quietly and ate my imaginary popcorn.

Although I thought being an employee for US embassy/American universities would create a less challenging experience, especially when I thought how positive my previous six times in the United States were. This time it has been different, and the reason being that before I always had a backup, colleagues, friends, acquaintances or a group where I belonged. Now I was starting from scratch, no known history that vindicated me from suspicion.

Despite that, I was not offended by anything or anyone. After all, I answered numerous questions about “my tent in the desert” and “the camels we had” among other questions. I consider this a harmless curiosity to validate the comical one-dimensional image presented in the media, thus, I was always delighted to correct it.

All in all, I don’t believe the world owes me anything. As I understand and respect other people’s opinions and personal inclinations, I can’t blame anyone even for making a false judgment, since “to accuse others for one’s own misfortunes is a sign of want of education; to accuse oneself shows that one’s education has begun; and to accuse neither oneself nor others shows that one’s education is complete” as Epictetus stated.

I am, however, disappointed that in this era of fast and vast means of learning, logic and reasoning are replaced with hasty conclusions and dismissal of proof – although the burden of proof is upon the claimant. Unfortunately, the appeal to emotion, fear and people remains prevalent.


The Humans of the World @ OU project seeks to engage the university community in a conversation about humanity. This site highlights members of the OU community from home and abroad, showcasing the rich and vibrant global community that exists at our university. The goal is to enhance our knowledge of one another, to support a sense of empathy for all members of our community, and to create greater understanding of one another’s humanity. Please join us in this conversation as we open our hearts and minds to all Humans of the World @ OU and elsewhere.

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