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Multicultural Dialogue

For the multicultural dialogue I spoke with someone I had previously known from the
time I spent living in Chicago. His name is Uriel Nakar, a former coworker of mine from the
clothing company American Apparel. I chose to speak with him because he is of Israeli and
Jewish ancestry; he is also an openly gay man. I was interested in getting the perspective of a
Jewish person as Ive only ever interacting with Christians, specifically Protestants due to
growing up in a heavily Protestant part of Western Michigan. I also thought that Uriel being of a
couple of different minority groups would help to give me a vastly different viewpoint of life in
America.
The planning process to set up our conversation was not particularly extensive or
difficult. I had thought about the type of culture/viewpoint I wanted to learn about and realized
that I had not particularly gotten to know Uriel very well in the short time I knew him. So I sent
him a facebook message inquiring if he would be interested in having a conversation with me
about his cultural background. I then thought about the kind of questions I wanted to ask him and
sent him those questions. The only disadvantage to conducting the interview in this way was that
I would not be able to follow up with any questions that may arise when reading his responses.
However Uriel was very thorough in his responses and I didnt have much in the vein of follow
up questions. I also know that he would have been happy to continue to respond to me if I had
had any more questions for him. Throughout the process Uriel was happy to respond to my
questions and was gracious enough to think long and hard about his answers and to give me his
honest feelings/opinions. Uriel seemed excited to conduct this interview with me and very
willing to give me his time and honesty to help me complete the project. His openness and
willingness to help me made me feel comfortable to ask him anything I thought would benefit

me in learning about his life. In turn I did my best to offer him respectful and enlightening
questions to show him that my intentions were to learn and better understand his life and cultural
identity.
The flow of conversation was not much of a factor as it was conducted over time using
facebook messaging, which is essentially email. I chose to do it this way because of the distance
between our homes and because I didnt think that I could get the same depth and quality of
responses by conducting a conversation over the phone. From the outset I mentioned to Uriel that
if he did not feel comfortable responding to any of the questions I asked him then he did not have
to. I did this because I feel like I asked some intensely personal and perhaps private questions. In
turn, I feel that the quality of responses that Uriel gave me to the questions was beyond what I
could have hoped for. He answered each question with a thought provoking, intelligent and
honest response. I hoped that by stating from the outset that he only needed to respond with
whatever he felt comfortable sharing that it would make him feel comfortable sharing with me,
and based on the answers that he gave me I get the sense that he felt at ease sharing rather
personal aspects of his life with me.
Even though I had known Uriel as a coworker for a period of time and felt comfortable
conversing with him on a basic level, I was still nervous as the outset that he might feel
uncomfortable or even offended by the types of questions that I asked him. Particularly I was
nervous about how hed feel responding to the questions I asked about his sexual orientation. He
knew from the outset that I was open minded and not the least bit homophobic but it is still a
delicate subject that I wanted to treat with the utmost respect. After he had answered my
questions I felt far more at ease about the situation. Uriel was very open with me about the
situation and didnt appear offended about the way in which I worded my questions so I felt

much better about the situation. I also had an even bigger respect for Uriel as a human being. I
already knew him to be a great person but after hearing about the ways in which he has had to
deal with discrimination and dehumanizing situations, I admired his strength and intelligence
even more.
I learned a lot about what it feels like to have grown up a homosexual, what it might feel
like to feel even more uncomfortable and isolated during early teen years. I thought middle
school was bad enough, I cant imagine feeling that isolated during such an already awkward
point in life. I thought it was interesting that Uriel first started articultating his feelings for men
around puberty; the exact same time that I would have started to articulate my feelings for
women. So in that sense we are the same. However in a lot of ways we are different. His
hometown helped him to cultivate a broader and more accepting outlook on the world and its
people. I thought it was interesting that he was shocked by the ignorance of other people during
his first year of college. For me it was the exact opposite, my hometown made me think that the
world was such an ignorant place and my first year of college I started experiencing and meeting
people from outside of my bubble and it made me feel better that there were more people like me
out in the world. Its interesting to me that by simply being born in a different area, even one
relatively close in distance, (He grew up in Skokie which is only like 3 hours away from where I
grew up)ones views and experiences can be so drastically different. It saddens me that so much
ignorance seems to be a commonality that all areas share though. I learned so much from talking
with Uriel and asking about a multitude of topics, as he is also going into the education field, I
also gained some insight into his philosophies on education, which I did not initially ask or
expect to learn from him. As a music teacher he is saddened by the lack of funding and how
music education is being deemed less and less important, as well as many other art forms, by

Americas education system. He is also not found of standardized testing, which I thought
seemed to make sense coming from an art teacher.
Before having this conversation with Uriel, I would not have said that I was biased or had
many stereotypes, but his responses definitely enlightened me to things I had not previously
thought about. Although it makes sense that a closed homosexual would feel isolated and alone
during their youth, I had never put much thought into what that would be like for a teenage to
have to go through. I personally felt that those years were already some of the hardest in terms of
my self-perception/confidence and to think that someone would feel ostracized by something like
their sexual orientation on top of the multitude of other hardships that come with being a
pubescent teenager makes me feel that I had it easier than he did, and I hated that time of my life.
I also had a perception that talking with a Jew would reveal that Uriel might feel ostracized due
to his religion/ethnicity from time to time. I was surprised that he said that he never really felt
that way, he only really felt upset by more broad generalizations and stereotypes of Jewish
people, not a specific incident(s). This might have been due to the fact that he was raised in a
more diverse area, perhaps had I spoken with a Jewish/Israeli who had grown up in an area more
like where I had grown up, then the story might have been different. This conversation did give
me more confidence to address/talk about sexual orientation with LGBT people going forward
thought. Uriels candidness and honesty gave me insight into how being LGBT might feel and
helped me feel that I can respectfully discuss the issue with people of different sexual
orientation. Overall Im so glad that I was able to talk with Uriel about these issues and I feel like
he enlightened me on many different levels about things I had not previously ruminated on.