We all are the outcome of our experiences. But like most things, not all experiences are created equal. Some have little impact on us while others singlehandedly change our entire philosophy on life. Like my peers, I have also not been oblivious to the fact that the divide between the west and the east has been growing and it is especially apparent since the tragedy of 9/11 which was followed by two military campaigns by the U.S. The media coverage in the following years had convinced me that east hates west. But a trip to a number of countries in the Middle East two years ago reminded me people in different countries are more similar to each other than they are different.

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Contrary to what I had been led to believe by the media, I discovered that people almost everywhere dream for peace, greater freedom of speech and action, and greater cross-cultural interaction rather than isolated existence. I was struck by the great level of admiration many individuals I met in the Middle East showed for America. They did have words of criticism but they would be mostly leveled against U.S. Government and the western media. They even acknowledged that their own politicians and media are no different. As I watched their news coverage, it was apparent that media in almost every country shows biased coverage in order to influence the opinion of the masses. Their coverage of the Iraq and Afghan Wars was entirely different to what I was used to seeing back at home.

This journey was a reminder that one should keep an open mind and educate himself/herself on both sides of the issue. This journey was also a stark reminder that division between east and west is not growing because different cultures desire clash but are more the outcome of ignorance because masses are exposed to biased coverage and views. This single experience had created more appreciation for education in me than any other event in my life.