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When you hear someone grew up in Dubai, your first thought may be skeptical and even dismissive. However, having had the first-hand experience, I can say that these reactions are far from fair. Quickly growing, Dubai is the home to people of 202 different nationalities, which makes its residents more culturally aware and accepting. Living in such a multicultural city forced me to challenge stereotypes and forge my own identity as a child, pushing past the boundaries of simply where I came from. We are not defined from where we come from but for who we are and what we do. Most of all, growing up in Dubai has allowed me to believe that almost anything is possible if I work for it; the city is the prime example, always pushing limits by building the tallest buildings, the largest malls, and the only indoor ski hills.
Dubai is forever growing, and I am encouraged to do the same by the culture here and most of all by my school. When applying to universities or considering future careers there are no limitations, the search is worldwide. I have learned to understand other cultures, religions and traditions from my friends, peers and neighbours. It is the opposite of narrow-minded, although many people refer to living in Dubai as living in a ‘bubble’. If this is a bubble, it is because we are idealistic in which case I proudly accept the tag, because the world I came from made me realise that reality is simply based on subjective perception. I am proud to be someone who goes out of my way to go over the top, and I became this person by being an expat. If you can be the best at what you do, why not strive for it?
In particular, my school cultivates my want to be the best that I can be in all endeavors. They are forever giving me opportunities in activities that may not have been available in places where there are fewer cultures. If an activity is not already offered in the school, it is easy to gain permission to start up the club yourself. Teachers not only allow but love, to give us the freedom to expand. For example, I believed there should be more academic, artistic, and athletic recognition within our school. After proposing the idea to the Headmaster, 6 months later an Honours board and system had been created to celebrate high achievers in all three areas. The school allowed me freedom to create because they give their students respect. There is a strong sense of mutual respect between teachers and students, which has allowed me to feel like my ideas are worthy of expressing and realizing.
In particular, my English teacher has made the most significant impact on my dreams and aspirations. Never had I met a teacher that genuinely cared almost as much as I did about novels and about whether or not I succeed. He constantly motivated me to push myself much further and never settle for average. Over the years of knowing him both as a teacher and a basketball coach, I finally gained the confidence to tell people about what I want to do with my life, write fiction. I used to be embarrassed of what I wanted to do, knowing it was a competitive, difficult market, but finally I allowed myself to proudly say I want to be an author.
Growing up in Dubai has allowed me to see the world in it’s vastness and remarkable diversity and know that people are constantly challenging stereotypes. I know now that I should challenge them too and strive to surpass any limitations in my way. My school made this belief that I could go anywhere possible through the constant support of teachers and peers. Moreover, it gave me hundreds of stories from hundreds of cultures, that will form dozens of characters and hopefully books.
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