The Assignment:

Write an essay in which you present an anecdote about an everyday sight that has a significance obvious to everyone who sees it , but that could also be interpreted in other ways. In your essay you should examine several possible interpretations, speculate on why the "community" sees one but not the others, and discuss the consequences of this single, shaping vision. You should, wherever possible, use Stanley Fish's key terms or phrases; refer to Fish's anecdote about Mr. Newlin's raised hand, if you think that strengthens your own anecdote. The final essay should be at least 2 pages, and the draft for your Writing Fellow should be at least a page.


The Essay Submitted to You as Writing Fellow:

Eating and Drinking in Arab Culture

 

Many things are happening everyday, and it almost happen to every person or every family.

If anyone visits a family or another person in his house, he will be well-welcomed, after a while

you might see that the owner of the house had brought a cup of tee or a cup of coffee to his visitor.

In the eyes of Arabs, that would be something obvious, and many people of that community will

not be amazed for doing such a thing, because it's their tradition. A stranger for example might

be amazed how the visitor, or probably himself, are served without taking their permission whether

they want to eat or drink or not. So how they see it is going to be different, he will probably think

that he has been served so that he can finish his drink and leave because the owners of the house

are tired and they want to rest, or probably they want to go somewhere and that visitor prevented

them when he showed up. But as I said befor doing such a thing is some kind of tradition to

welcome the visitor.

Since Fish was amazed how those students in his class knew what Mr. Newlin's wanted.

That was obvious because first of all they had the knowledge of what a raised hand in class meant

and they knew what would not have been available to someone without any knowledge of what

was involved in being student. So as the student understand each other in class and probably

outside, other people and Arab communities understand that serving the tee or the coffee when they

have a visitor is something obvious, and it's kind of shame if they don't do that.

Food is like the tee in Arab culture, since the guest is supposed to eat whatever is put in

front of him. I have noticed that, in America, families will put out the food or ask a guest if he wants

something to drink but guests do not have to eat or drink unless it is at dinner. It would be rude to

refuse or misunderstand the gesture of giving snacks in an Arab home, even if the food was not to

the taste. Guests need to understand the gesture involved in offering food and drink. Dinner is the

same way, and to some Americans it seems that Arabs eat a lot. At dinner, when a guest's plate

gets empty, the mother will pass the plate to the guest and ask if he wants more to eat. It would

be rude to say no, since that tells the host that the food is not as good as might be expected. A

guest may take just a little to be polite, but to refuse to take any would be considered rude by

his host.

Learning about another culture takes time. The American visitor in an Arab home will

learn the customs concerning tee and food. It is like Fish's classroom, where everyone knows

what Mr. Newlin's raised hand meant. He wanted to ask a question, he was not having a

muscle spasm or pointing to a hole in the ceiling. With time these customs become accepted

by everyone, but to an outsider they can be strange.


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