Our second book that we read in our reading group was Habibi by Naomi Shihab Nye. In this book, we follow 14-year-old Liyana on her move from St. Louis, Missouri to Palestine. What stood out to me the most from this book was the feeling of going to a new place that you don’t exactly belong to. Liyana’s father is a native Palestinian who moved to the states for medical school, but Liyana spent her whole life in the United States. When she moved overseas, she had her mom, her dad, and her brother, but she did not adjust well when she first arrived. She did not understand the cultural differences and wanted to continue interacting with the world the same way she had her entire life.
When I was seven, my parents told me we were going to China to visit for five weeks. I had never been to China before, and I did not fluently speak Chinese. Remembering the culture shock I experienced in China, I can relate to Liyana’s move. Something that Liyana conveyed in a truthful and real way was that when you’re traveling with a few people who share your worldview, traveling isn’t as lonely compared to being the only one who shares your same approach to life.
Liyana felt like she did not know this version of her father, who now followed the social norms of Palestine fairly closely at times. Relating this back to personality psychology, this brings up the old question: what makes a person’s personality their personality? Personality is not always stable across time and across situations, so maybe people have exactly have a set personality, but rather an ability to adapt to different situations. I would consider this as something good that can come of out traveling: just learning how to adapt to different situations and cultures.