While living and teaching in Bahrain during 2010 and 2011, I became intensely aware of my own hubris in regards to cultural awareness. Having traveled and lived abroad before, I was sure the Gulf was a misunderstood region whose contemporary, cosmopolitan reality would make it easy for me to thrive and overall, present few challenges. What I experienced was a country at war with itself, in both literal and symbolic terms. Bahrain’s opposing social and economic forces results in a conflicted place where black and white are naïve perceptions, and all life happens in the gray. I learned a great deal about my own moral compass, especially how relative “north” can be based upon one’s cultural context. What I saw and experienced there was profound, but the journey of self-discovery is still what stands out in my mind. Go abroad and I think you’ll agree.
– Robert Specking, EF College Study Program Coordinator