Feburary 1st, 2017…World Hijab Day. This was my first time wearing a hijab and it definitely opened my perspective on my Muslims brothers and sisters at Fontbonne and around the world. I have always attended Catholic schools so I wanted to expand my horizons and knowledge of other religions in my higher education experience. I feel that I knew growing up that Islam is a very peaceful and understanding religion. I just do not know a lot about the religion so this was a small step to reach better understanding.
I put on a beautiful red hijab at about 11 o’ clock at lunchtime. I think that throughout the course of my busy, schedule-filled day I ended up subconsciously forgetting that I was wearing a hijab on campus. During my quick walk across Fontbonne’s small campus, I did get some stares from people. After continuing my walk, I realized that I could never truly understand a hijabi’s woman’s experience.
As I was about to leave my afternoon class, I was asked a series of questions by a student about my hijab. The student asked me, “why are you wearing a symbol of oppression?” I think I was caught off guard a little bit, but I explained that a woman wears a hijab by her own decision and it is to allow people to appreciate her intellectuals rather than her physical beauty. The student was not very open or receptive to me and they walked away in a huff.
This goes to show that we, as Fontbonne students, faculty, and staff, have much to do to promote inclusivity and diversity on campus. It is very important to ask questions if you want to further your knowledge of someone’s culture. Also, it is equally important to be receptive to hearing someone’s answer. To the student who was not receptive, please seek understanding. We cannot be a true “Fontbonne family,” if not everyone values inclusivity and diversity. Especially in these tension-filled times in our country, we need to ensure that Fontbonne’s campus is a safe place for EVERYONE.
Overall, I enjoyed my experience wearing the hijab for the day. I found that wearing the hijab felt empowering while talking to people. I felt that they were truly listening to me for my thoughts and opinions, not based off my physicality. I have a much deeper respect for hijabi women after my experience with World Hijab Day 2017. I hope that more women at Fontbonne will come together for World Hijab Day 2018. Unfortunately, I saw only few freshman girls in the St. Joe Residence Hall wearing the hijab. While this is a little discouraging, this should call people to greater action than wearing the hijab for a couple hours. Whether this is making a call to your local representatives explaining your stance on the travel ban or starting a new diverse student organization at FBU, we all have a calling. Find your calling and keep moving forward.
Shelby, me, and Maddie.
I’m taking a world religion class this semester, and we are required to go to a different type of religion outside of what we were raised in. I decided to go and see what the Scientology building on Delmar was all about. I brought my best friend with me, because naturally, I was a little scared to go to someplace I had never been before. I found it to be quite interesting and everyone was fairly nice to us while we were there. I grew up Catholic my entire life; I went to a private grade school and high school, so I’ve never really been exposed to any other type of religion before. After going, I can walk away saying I explored somewhere new, and I’m happy I went!
How many ways can my daughter, Emily, amaze me. This week while watching the Big Bang Theory she said, “wow, look at their dry erase board. They are working on the same chemistry problems that I’m doing. Let’s see if it looks like they are figuring out sulfur…”. At this point I have to admit my mind went numb and all I could do is laugh. I told her how awesome God had made her and smart. Emily is planning to go to dental school once she graduates from high school next year. What a blessing that she has always done well in math and science classes.
And is that not true of all of us? God made all of us with certain strengths that are amazing. I know that since kindergarten I wanted to be a teacher and have worked in the education field every since leaving college the first time. I prayed for years that if it was God’s will to help me get back into college and to guide my path to be an educator. I know that I had a pastor years ago that told me that I was gifted by God for working with kids. I have always remembered that.
Throughout, the years I was involved in teaching preschool, working daycare, being a substitute teacher, and finally a paraprofessional. As, a paraprofessional, I work with high students. This is an ideal job for a girl without a degree that wanted to be a high school english teacher. Many times I’ve had students ask me why I didn’t teach because I helped them with their assignments and knew about literature, writing, history, etc. My answer was always the same that I left college and always wanted to go back but now I didn’t want to be the old lady in the class.
When I learned about the Pathways program at Fontbonne it seemed like a answer to prayer. I could go back to school to fulfill my dream of being a teacher. The bonus was that a majority of the classes I would need were online- ahh, not having to be the old lady in the class was just icing on the cupcake.
I’m sure that everyone has their own path that God guides. If you are lucky God gives you the path, the talent and the capability of knowing it. It took me a few years to find mine. I pray that all of you find your path too and listen and know what gifts God has gave you to share with the world.
p.s. For those of you that have read my previous blogs about my health I wanted to update you. I’ve had my surgery and am recovering. It has not been an easy recovery and I still have four weeks left. I’m praying that God ease my pain and help me to be still and rest and recover.
So, I’m Baha’i.
The Baha’i faith is a major world religion with believers in more than 200 countries and territories. It was founded in Persia in Bahá’u’lláh in the mid 1800’s. This faith emphasizes the spiritual unity of all humankind, believing all religions worship the same God, men and women are equal, and science and religion agree and must both develop equally for the advancement of human wisdom. There’s a lot more to it than this, of course, but it is a beautiful, universal, welcoming faith, and I encourage you to learn more about it.
Anyway, the Baha’is have a period of fasting, similar to Ramadan in the Islamic faith. It’s 19 days, from March 2nd until March 21st (ending right before Spring Break!) During this period of fasting, Baha’is abstain from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset. Not everyone has to fast, of course—pregnant or nursing women, elderly people and young children, people who are sick, people who are traveling, and those who engage in heavy labor are exempt—but it is seen as a wonderful opportunity. It’s been described as “an annual renewal of faith” and “an invigoration, an annual cleansing.” It is a time of prayer and meditation, where we focus ourselves on God instead of selfish and carnal desires.
I’m excited about this time, but I expect it will be difficult. It will mean careful planning to make sure I still have a healthy diet; it will mean a dedicated focus to get through tennis practices and classes on no food or water. I’m looking forward to this challenge, to this opportunity to demonstrate love and devotion to God. If I should fail, and find that I cannot keep up with my duties while fasting, I won’t feel regret. I’d rather try for God, knowing he loves and forgives all I do.