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ANTH 1002
Blair Rutherford

ANTH 1002 Alizée Albrecht 100894731 Assignment 2 Prof. Blair Rutherford T.A. Matthew Hawkins Tuesday, March 19 2013 In Canada, many people have never seen war. We know what happens from the news on television, and we can imagine how hard it is, but we can never fully understand the impact a war has on a country, its people, its beauty. Lebanon was a beautiful place, peaceful, historically and culturally rich. After a series of events starting after world war II, Lebanon became divided, politically and religiously, and tensions within the borders made life really hard on the people living there. In my 18 years of life, I met a lot of people already, coming from all around the world, but last year, I met a special person and her family. Over my high school years, like every other teenager, my inner goal was to find myself. Well, after meeting Selena Thomson , I 1 finally realized who I was, and who I liked. After months of friendship, casually falling in love, and finally talking about it, we finally started dating. Even if her family does not know about us, we are really close, and it is due to the frequent interactions I have with them. This group of people consists of her grandmother and grandfather, her mother, her aunt, her 3 uncles, her brother, and not technically living there another uncle, his wife and two children. The people I talk the most to are her mother Nadia, her aunt Grace, her grandmother Totsi, her uncle's wife Meg and obviously the children, Tara and Tate. In Lebanese families, not much outsiders are allowed at family gatherings and events, and keeping this aspect in mind, I will describe some activities I participated to, and describe others that were narrated to me by a member of the family. We know Canada is a great destination for prospective immigrants because of the wide variety of advantages this country offers. What we are not aware of, are the conditions and the reasons why each person decides to leave their birthplace. For the Thomsons in particular, they left Lebanon around 1987, during the Israeli occupation, because of the unsafe environment, in quest for a better quality of life. Her grandmother's sister, Laura, was 1*All names of people and descriptions of places have been changed to protect the identity of the people described. chatting online with a Canadian, and decided to visit him here. One thing followed another and they got married, and she brought the rest of her family there. When immigrating from a country with different customs, it can be hard to feel comfortable at first. When many people from the same location move in another place together, they start forming their own communities and recreate what they had in their country of origin. While I was looking for other examples of families that live in Canada, but keep their traditions, I found the book Arabic Speaking Communities in American Cities, containing an essay called Reconstituting a Lebanese Village Society in a Canadian City, by Louise Sweet. In her observations, she describes a group of Lebanese in Edmonton, Canada, that recreated their home village of 'Ain ad-Dayr. “In their interactions with each other in Edmonton, all the status etiquette, program of entertainment, visiting rituals, and even the spatial arrangement of individuals in relation to each other in public spaces and private homes recreates in the finest detail the same kinds of events that occur in home gatherings, work settings, meeting situations, or community gatherings in the home village” (Sweet:41) This paragraph describes a situation that happens in Ottawa as well. After living in certain conditions, with old habits and repetitive tasks in familiar places, it is hard for people to adapt to such big changes. It is how they find comfort and practical uses to recreating their way of living when they immigrate. In my search of sources by anthropologists, I came across the book An Invitation to Laughter, by Fuad Khuri. The book is a collection of the author's work, from his observations in different parts of the world, but I was mostly interested in the parts about the Lebanese culture. In his study in Beirut, he talks about the difficulties he came across as an anthropologist doing fieldwork with people of his nationality, because he needed to observe more than participate, but being Lebanese, not participating in activities in Beirut was a challenge.(Khuri:95) In my case, observing my partner's family was a challenge because when I participated in family gatherings, I had to focus on what to do, and less on what I was seeing. There is a moment of the day that I seem to be a part of every time I go over to the Thomsons : the gossip hour. “Middle-class women living in the same neighborhood meet up regularly in morning coffee circles to review the latest gossip in town and read their fortunes.” (Khuri:101) As I was reading that part of the book, I could not find a better example that shows that 'old habits die hard'. Indeed, the women in the family I mostly interacted with were all part of that meeting around a coffee, or a game of cards, and it turns out they are all born in Lebanon, and had the same talks in their country. Unlike described by Fuad Khuri, the Thomsons were meeting at night, when everyone was finally off work, and the kids were in bed. Although I enjoyed sitting at the table listening to them exchange about their day, unless Selena translated every single word to me, I could not understand anything, Arabic is not a language I learned. Arabic has many different dialects, and although a standard Arabic exists, people from different countries in the Middle-East most often do not understand each other. Although they learn English in Lebanon, school is taught in French. In Canada, Selena's family know English, but they speak Arabic at home. It is their first language, but Selena is the only one in the family described as a latent bilingual. It means she possesses competence in Arabic but not performance. In her essay Research on Arab Child Bilinguals, found in Barbara Aswad's book described before, Aleya Rouchdy explains everything about learning English versus Arabic. Kids in general learn Arabic at home, with their parents, but as soon as they go to school, they are immersed in a completely English environment and it is the language taught. As Rouchdy explains about the study she carried, there are four factors that affect the proficiency of a person in a specific language: “First, the order of learning. In all of the cases, the subjects learned Arabic before English at home. Second, the mode of use. This includes visual reinforcement and oral use of the language. Among the subjects under study, the visual enforcement is stronger in English. Third, the usefulness of communication. English is more useful to subjects at school and outside the community, Finally, the emotional involvement. The subjects are involved in both languages, English being the language of the country and Arabic being the dominant language of the community.”(Haboush:177,178) According to this explanation, we can compare it to the Thomsons. The first generation, born, raised and who gave birth to children in Lebanon learned Arabic at home, b
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