What Are You

The in-class assignment asking the class to write down “What Are You”  was difficult for many reasons.

Firstly, the expected answer seemed as if it was supposed to be short, perhaps a few words. The idea of writing what am I can hardly be answered this way. However, I’m sure this was part of the assignment – to define who we believe we are crudely.

Secondly, the question of “what are you” is extremely vague. As one student wrote ‘I am a human being.’ When prompted to think of a better question, I stumbled. What question would help us arrive at a more concise answer.

And on this note (thirdly…)  what is the expected answer to this question?

Maybe a better thing to ask would have been “How would you define yourself?” But this question too, is complicated. Both young adults, like most of the students, and even those later on in life, are on a journey to figure out ‘who they are.’ (Could this have been a better question?) They work hard to know themselves and therefore this question does not have a simple answer.

Some students in the class responded by speaking of their religion, their employment status…etc. I believe some of the confusion as to answering this question can actually be attributed to globalization and the spreading cultures, which both help and confuse people to define who they are.

An individual may be American, but dress based on another country’s trends and read foreign literature. He may be Christian but wear a Hamsa, a kabbalistic Jewish piece of jewelry. Defining who we are is enough of a trouble, doing so with conflicting ideas and ideologies, as a result of globalization, is as one student said “confusing.”

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2 Responses to “What Are You”

  1. I agree that being asked, “What are you?” is confusing and vague, not because it is a difficult question but because there are many ways of answering it. If the results showed that 33 people answered the same, I would have been shocked, and it would’ve defeated the purpose of the assignment. While no one wrote any of Huntington’s 8 civilizations as their responses, the responses do show how diverse our peers are and that everyone identifies with a different group. I noticed that many people wrote their ethnicity, species, and religion. I don’t think these individuals answered this way because we are in a class about globalization. I think most people would choose such a response because they are more specific than “human being” and even my response “female student.” These responses don’t say as much about a person than “Persian Jew” or “American Dominician.”

  2. Prof. Hala says:

    A charming reflection on identity in a globalized world.