Wearing the scarf....

Today was World Hijab Day, an event that is celebrated yearly at my school. It is an amazing day. Many of our Muslim students bring their own scarves from home to share with other students and staff. Many women on the staff don the scarf before school to wear the entire day while students can get a scarf at lunch. About ten girls proudly attended to students, wrapping their heads and pinning the scarves in place. Staff and students wore the beautiful scarves proudly throughout the day.

I always find it interesting on Hijab day, especially the reactions of the Muslim students. The girls smile and often comment about the scarf and how beautiful I look, while the boys often enter the room and their face breaks into a large smile. I liken it to it being the first time they have truly "seen" me. "Miss, you look so beautiful."

Sometimes when I look at the scarf, a symbol of modesty, I see into the eyes of these beautiful girls. Some of my students wear the Hijab while others don't, asymbol that the scarf is a choice. My students are proud to wear the scarf and, in no way did I feel awkward through the day. As a matter of fact, I forgot that I was wearing it, catching a glimpse occasionally and being reminded. One of my white students remarked, "It's only girls that wear it, right?" "Yes.." "I was thinking I might like it." brought a smile to my face. Breaking barriers one student at a time.

I used to have so many feelings about women wearing the Hijab, thinking that somehow they were being forced to wear it and that somehow wearing the scarf made them lesser in the eyes of others. SInce teaching at my school, I have met a plethora of strong and opinionated women who proudly wear the scarf. Young women who are bring the first in their family to atten colllege in the United States, young women whose families came to the US as an opportunity for their daughters.

Today was a beautiful symbol of cultural awareness and participation, one that is being punsihed throughout our land. Instead of opening our minds and hearts to a variety of cultural beliefs, we are somehow being railroaded into believing that only one faith and one way of living is acceptable, Christian and western. By having this narrow view we are robbing our children of rich cultural experiences that can enrich their future experiences. We should be striving to open our world for our children not close it. On days like this I am reminded that there is much work to be done, but the work we are doing is worthy. We are molding the minds of young people by exposing them to all faiths and cultures.

As I sit here writing and thinking about my day, I realize that the scarf did nothing to dampen my confidence all day. Was I aware that students could focus on my face more, yes. Was I aware that underneath the scarf nothing mattered, yes. One of the girls said I seemed meaner with the scarf (I laughed), but mostly I felt empowered and proud to represent the students I love.

As I sit here, after wearing the scard for 10 hours today, a strange sensation is on my head. The halo of the scarf seems to be there. It's odd but there..invisible. It's almost like I am still wearing the scarf.

#worldhijabday  #istand4hijab


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