Triple the ethnicities, triple the knowledge

Art by Yasmeen El-Jayyousi. Source:

Manal Salim

Art by Yasmeen El-Jayyousi. Source:
Art by Yasmeen El-Jayyousi. Source:
Among married individuals, 5.4 million couples in the United States are interracial, or comprised of parents of differing ethnic backgrounds, according to, which doesn’t make my multicultural family anything unusual. Regardless, I’ve always felt a little different from everyone else.
Because my dad is Palestinian and my mom is Bosnian, the mixed Arab-European environment I grew up with has presented me with a unique mixture of two very different cultures that have blended with one another seamlessly, shaping me into the person I am today.
From visiting my dad’s side of the family to the virtues I grew up with at home, the Palestinian culture has been an ever-present aspect of my life. One of the most prevalent Arab qualities I can recall is the unwavering importance of respecting my elders. As a child, and even today, it is not just an expectation, but rather a duty of mine to assist my parents and grandparents in any situation, without hesitation. If my grandmother desired anything, it would be a battle among my siblings, my cousins and me to see who could spring to action the quickest.
On the other hand, the second half of my family ingrained a different concept into my personality. Upon visiting Bosnia when I was younger, my grandparents praised me for all that I accomplished, whether the task was small or large, thus instilling the importance of a good work ethic and diligence. My grandparents themselves were hard workers, as my grandfather used to be the mayor of his town, and my grandmother is the proud owner of a thriving garden she devotes extensive amounts of her time to.
Though both characteristics seem quite different, stemming from two opposite cultures, the values I was raised with are far more alike upon closer inspection. Because my Palestinian father taught me the importance of respecting others combined with my Bosnian mother’s encouragement of working hard, I developed an overall mindset to make it a goal of mine to further myself in life by pushing myself, while also accommodating those around me.
The path to success cannot be derived from stepping on others to get there, rather cooperation and mutual happiness is the most effective route. The way in which my parents were able to breach boundaries and marry out of their ethnic races and were able to live a happy life together despite their differing backgrounds, goes to show me that they also practiced the concept they taught me. They worked to maintain good relationships with those around them, keeping our multi-national family seamless and as content as ever.
Being multiracial has assisted me in maintaining good relationships with others, since I feel as though I have an easier ability of understanding most other people around me because I myself had to learn to understand my own family. With parents of different nationalities, I have developed a greater opportunity to obtain exposure to two varying cultures, which allows me to have a better idea of where other people are coming from when I meet them. And as I meet other people, it is even easier to interact with many of them since the number of interracial couples and families has increased significantly. Many Americans have realized the importance of reaching out to the cultures and backgrounds of others, since according to, the number of interracial couples has gone up 28 percent since 2000.
My multicultural family has given me the opportunity to interact with a wider variety of people, have a taste of an assortment of cultures, and gain a more open-minded view of those around me starting from a young age.
When I say I understand another person, the gesture is genuine as the interracial background I possess has taught me a great deal about dealing with other people and the importance of maintaining good relationships to achieve success in my life.
By Manal Salim