Varied responses to the first annual ‘Hijabi for a Day’

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By Shayna Han

Last Wednesday, Jan. 13, Union’s Interfaith Youth Core led a program called “Hijabi for a Day.” Female students who participated wore hijabs—fabric Muslim women tie around their heads to cover their hair—while male students wore buttons of support.

Leaders of Union’s Interfaith Youth Core Jasmine Roth ‘14, Mark Khazanov ‘15, Fatima Hosain ‘15 and Sriya Bhumi ‘15 planned and executed the program. When explaining the rationale behind Hijabi for a Day, Khazanov explained, “Wearing a hijab is a very personal thing…but it’s something to bring awareness to the community and say that not everyone’s walking in your shoes.” On Tuesday night, over 70 people gathered in Beuth to kick off Hijabi for a Day. A panel of Muslim students—Kendall Allen ‘13, Samihah Ahmed ‘15, Fatima Hossein ‘15, Nuzhat Chowdhury ‘16, Omneya Ghanem ‘16 and Sarah Kader ‘16—led an informational on the hijab and why Muslim women wear it.

All day on Wednesday, female participants wore their hijabs and collected memories and thoughts to be discussed later that night at the wrap-up discussion of Hijabi for a Day. Several Union students shared the day’s experiences with one another.

“This is definitely revolutionary for Union.…For a few years, I was the only hijabi here. My freshman year was 9/11. I remember it was really tough. Things were said and done to me at Union. Someone spit at me, name-calling, things like that.…I like things that raise questions, and I like that people are wondering what this is, and that you guys are spreading curiosity and love at the same time,” shared Nouha Deliou ‘05.

In contrast, Kyra De Tone ‘16 experienced a lack of curiosity: “This morning, I actually got to hear an ignorant and close-minded conversation among two young men. It was a comment about ‘towel-heads,’ because there were several honorary Hijabis for the Day in West Dining this morning. And then one of them got up from the table and said, ‘I hope that there will not be any more ‘Arabiginals’ in my class for the day.’”

Others were more receptive: “People who know me know that I have very, very long, curly blonde hair. People who were seeing me for the first time saw the blonde peeking out, saw that I’m very fair, they didn’t associate the way I looked with wearing a hijab. So, I did get some confused faces from that. It was interesting to know that it doesn’t occur to people that it’s a religion, and you don’t have to look a certain way to wear something like this,” said Avery Novitch ‘16.

 

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