Calgary Kids Get a Glimpse of Yemen [Archives:1998/15/Business & Economy]

April 13 1998

Those are some quotes from the project of the young Graydon Glans. With such creative description of Yemen, 10-year old Graydon presented his country report last February to his classmates at Marion Carson Elementary School in Calgary.

The report was based on his trip to Yemen, which gave the young lad an almost insider look of Yemen. Most children in the West don’t know much about Yemen. Reports like these help to dispel inaccurate myths about Arabs in general and humanize them to Western societies.
Children are very impressionable, they believe what adults tell them. Many adults are ignorant and see all Arabs as terrorists. They do not see them as generous and loving or even as people like themselves. It is important that children learn that Arabs are people just like them, because they are the future. If the children grow up knowing the truth about Arabs, many of the inaccurate myths and wrong perceptions will slowly disappear and relations of Arabs with the rest of the world will improve.

That is why the report of Graydon, in its little way, is a helpful instrument for better understanding. The children of Grade 5 were absorbed as Graydon gave details of many aspects of Yemeni life, customs and culture. He noticed that Yemenis eat only with their right hands. He says, “This is because Islamic tradition considers the left hand unclean.”
Graydon especially liked going to the spice markets. He calls it a “big thrill.” He was amazed at all the different goodies such as myrrh, frankincense, cinnamon, coriander, coffee, curry, nutmeg and much more. He described the traders as they haggle over prices. He advises shoppers, “Do try to negotiate a price, as prices are not set in the Old City.” He then goes to the old days, when spices and silk were transported through Yemen by following the trail of the wise men, the Spice and Silk Routes.

He also described the Yemeni flag, telling what each stripe means. “The red, white and black stripes on the flag symbolize courage, generosity and historic Islamic conquests. The emblem of the Republic of Yemen is the eagle, which symbolizes the strength and liberty of the nation.”

What Graydon remembers most are “The bulging cheeked men chewing the tender green qat leaves every afternoon, old men with weathered faces proudly displaying their traditional jambiyas and intricately designed 400-year old houses in the Old City. That’s what Yemen is!”The report is full of pictures, maps and other illustrations.
By Beshara Taher, YT.