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Volume 65, Number 4July/August 2014

In This Issue

Classroom Guide

For students: We hope this guide will help sharpen your reading skills and deepen your understanding of this issue’s articles.

For teachers: We encourage reproduction and adaptation of these ideas, freely and without furthe permission from Saudi Aramco World, by teachers at any level, whether working in a classrorom or through home study.


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Jump to McRel Standards

Class Activities

Several articles in this edition of Saudi Aramco World look at the interactions among groups of people—from soccer teams to members of religious and ethnic groups to people of different nationalities. How do people come together to form a group, even when they are different from one another? How do these different groups interact? Sometimes they get along well, and sometimes they don’t. In the Classroom Guide activities, you will explore a few different ways that groups interact, and you will try to pinpoint what makes it possible for people to get along with those whose group identity is different than their own.

Group Identity and Interaction

Everyone is a part of different groups, and our group memberships define us in ways that are important to how we think about ourselves. For example, you might identify yourself, in part, by the country you’re from. It’s pretty common for someone to say, “I’m American,” or “I’m Saudi,” for example. Think about the parts of your own identity that come from being part of various groups. Make a T chart. In the left-hand column, list as many groups as you can think of with which you identify. They might be based on nationality, city, region, religion, ethnicity, activity interest and so on. Hold onto the chart. You’ll fill in the right-hand column shortly.

Because you identify as part of various groups, how those groups relate to other groups may have a big effect on you. Let’s take a simple example. One city may have a competition with another city. New York and Boston, for instance, have a long-standing rivalry that seems to revolve around their baseball teams. And that rivalry sometimes affects how individuals from those two cities interact with each other: Some New Yorkers don’t want to know Bostonians, and vice versa, based solely on the city that they come from and the team that they cheer for.

With that in mind, look back at your group identities. In the right-hand column of the chart, list groups with which your group is thought to get along and groups with which it is thought not to get along. Do more of your groups have positive relations with other groups or negative relations? Comparing your chart with another student’s, which types of groups seem to have the most positive relations, and which seem to have the most stressful? Make a few notes about why that might be the case.

Power Relations: Colonialism and Beyond

Now that you’ve thought about how you identify yourself as a member of certain groups, pull back the lens to consider a bigger picture—that is, a picture beyond your personal experience. Let’s look at some of the different ways that other groups interact with each other.

One of those ways is when one group has power over another group. Colonialism is an example. Working with a group, write down the word “colony.” Have you heard it before? In what context? What do you understand a colony to be? Look up a definition to see how accurate your prior understanding of the word was. With the definition in hand, discuss with your group what colonialism means, and write a definition of it.

Now read “The Arab Traders of Singapore.” In it, you will find a description of how it happened that large numbers of Yemeni Arabs settled in Singapore in the 1800’s. Pay particular attention to the part of the article where professor Syed Farid Alatas talks about Arab migration. Why does he say that many Arabs came to Singapore when they did? What do you think is Alatas’s attitude about colonialism? What evidence do you find in the article to support your answer? Discuss with your classmates: Are you surprised by Alatas’s attitude about colonialism? Why or why not? Are you surprised by his saying that Thomas Stamford Raffles “had nasty things to say” about the Arabs who settled in Singapore? Why or why not? Given the tendency for there to be tension between the colonizers and the colonized, why do you think the British set up a colonial relationship with the people living in Singapore? What did they have to gain by doing so?

Once Singapore gained its independence from Britain—in other words, once the colonial relationship ended—Singapore citizens of Arab descent continued to have less power than another group. With what group was the new relationship? How did that group assert its authority over the Singapore-born Arabs? Again, why do you think they did so?

Then, there is a deeper question: How do you think that groups of people justify to themselves that it’s reasonable to assert power over others? What attitudes make it feel acceptable to them to exercise their power? With your group, write down a few thoughts about this. The article “Gazing Upon Beauty” gives a clue to the attitudes that led to colonialism. (The article is complex, so what follows is an explanation of the part that is relevant for this activity.) On page 10, professor Jesús Conde points out that Europeans were particularly interested in the Orient (the East) because defining it helped them understand their own identity as Europeans (people who lived in the West). How can that be? How can defining a group of people help a different group of people know themselves? If you think about it, it will make sense: One way that we know who we are is by knowing who we’re not. For example, one way that girls know they’re girls is because they’re not boys; one way you know you’re human is that you’re not a fish, a cat or a chimp. The same way of knowing holds for groups. People who study this idea use the word “Other” (with a capital O) as a way to describe anyone who is “not you.” You can apply the idea to those groups that hold power over others. Take the example of the colonizers of Singapore: If the British used their power to see Arab immigrants as “Others,” how might that affect government policies that concerned Arabs? 

On the Lighter Side

By now you may be despairing, having thought so much about difficult relationships among groups of people, relationships that are based on the power of one group over another group. But wait! Don’t despair! It’s time to think about the positive ways that groups of people relate to each other.

Read “The Dragons’ Road to Rio,” which describes how Bosnia’s soccer team has become a model of inter-ethnic and religious cooperation in a country that has been torn by conflict. As you read, underline or highlight the parts of the article that explain how the soccer players have been able to form a world-class team despite their differences. Based on what you’ve read, write a paragraph or a list of what you believe is necessary for a diverse group of people to come together as the Dragons have done. You might also think about your own experiences as a team member: What was it that made your team feel like a team, and what made it possible for you to work or play together well?

It isn’t only on the soccer field that people from different cultures can live and work together peacefully and even make money together. Read “The Arab Traders of Colón.” Highlight or underline the parts of the article that describe the ethnic makeup of the Free Zone and that address the sense of cooperation among these different groups. Referring back to what you wrote about what makes a group of diverse people become a team, think about what enables the people of the Colón Free Zone to live and work together harmoniously. How does the situation in Colón differ from the situation described in Singapore? What do you think accounts for the differences? 

Putting it Together: A Plan for Living Together

Now you’ve had a chance to explore different ways that groups interact with other groups. Some include imbalances of power and an absence of equality; others are more equal (egalitarian) and harmonious. Reviewing what you’ve read, written and discussed, it’s time to answer The Big Question: What makes it possible for diverse groups of people to get along with each other and live in harmony? Present your answers in whatever form best suits you. You can write it, make a video or oral presentation—or anything else you can think of. After all, you’re identifying the building blocks for living together with less conflict—for world peace! Make sure you present them with the importance that they deserve.

Visual Analysis

Imagine a collection of paintings that all depict the same subject—and that all look different from each other. When you turn to pages 8 and 9, you won’t have to imagine any longer: You can see the paintings in front of you. All the images there show the Patio de los Arrayanes, or Court of the Myrtles, in the Alhambra palace in Granada, Spain. Choose any two of the paintings—they don’t have to be the ones you see here—and compare them. Describe how they are similar to each other and how they are different. Include the effects that these differences have on you as a viewer. Which, if either, do you prefer? Why? Share your analysis with one or more of your classmates. 



In “Alaa Wardi Goes Viral,” author Jasmine Bager does something that can be very challenging for a writer: she describes in words the contents of an unconventional YouTube music video. Put another way, she uses one medium (words) to convey to readers the content of two other media (music and video). Put your own writing skills to the test: Watch any YouTube music video that you like. Then, using Bager’s description of Alaa Wardi’s videos, particularly the part in the first column of the article, write a description of the video you chose. You can add another layer to this task by having more than one student watch the same video, and then compare their writing, discussing what was particularly strong in each writer’s description so that students learn from each other. (Hint: Avoid general words like “big,” “long,” “fast” and so on, and see how many specific words and phrases you can use.)


JA 2014 McRel Standards Correlations

Alaa Wardi Goes Viral


Standard 7. Understands the relationship between music and history and culture


Standard 3. Understands the relationships among science, technology, society, and the individual

Gazing Upon Beauty

World History

Standard 27. Understands how European society experienced political, economic, and cultural transformations in an age of global intercommunication between 1450 and 1750

Standard 30. Understands transformations in Asian societies in the era of European expansion

Visual Arts

Standard 4. Understands the visual arts in relation to history and cultures

The Dragons’ Road to Rio

Physical Education

Standard 5. Understands the social and personal responsibility associated with participation in physical activity


Standard 10. Understands the nature and complexity of Earth's cultural mosaics 

Lebanon’s Renaissance Prince

World History

Standard 26. Understands how the transoceanic interlinking of all major regions of the world between 1450 and 1600 led to global transformations

Standard 27. Understands how European society experienced political, economic, and cultural transformations in an age of global intercommunication between 1450 and 1750

Standard 30. Understands transformations in Asian societies in the era of European expansion

The Traders of Singapore


Standard 9. Understands the nature, distribution and migration of human populations on Earth's surface 

Standard 10. Understands the nature and complexity of Earth's cultural mosaics 

Standard 11. Understands the patterns and networks of economic interdependence on Earth's surface 

World History

Standard 37. Understand major global trends from 1750 to 1914

Standard 42. Understands major global trends since World War II

Arab Traders of Colon


Standard 9. Understands the nature, distribution and migration of human populations on Earth's surface 

Standard 10. Understands the nature and complexity of Earth's cultural mosaics 

Standard 11. Understands the patterns and networks of economic interdependence on Earth's surface 



Julie Weiss ([email protected]) is an education consultant based in Eliot, Maine. She holds a Ph.D. in American studies. Her company, Unlimited Horizons, develops social studies, media literacy, and English as a Second Language curricula, and produces textbook materials.



Check the Public Affairs Digital Image Archive for July/August 2014 images.