Walking In Another’s Shoes

A day in the life is all it may take to understand an entirely different culture.

This theory was tested on Tuesday, April 3 when La Unida Latina Lambda Upsilon Lambda Fraternity and the Muslim Student Association held their fourth annual Muslim for a Day program as part of Islamic Awareness Week.

This program was created four years ago and has been an annual program since,” Jonathan Talmi, a member of La Unida Latina Lambda Upsilon Lambda Fraternity, said. “The idea was to simulate a life experience that not many of us go through. As Muslim Americans are faced with a plethora of stereotypes and daily hardships, this program was designed to [give] those who never experienced bigotry the opportunity to do so.”

For the entire day, students were able to rent hijabs and kufi, traditional Muslim headwear and go about their day, experiencing other people’s reactions. Participants were also forbidden from eating pork so they could better understand the life of a Muslim.

The program was held in Student Union 100, and included different stations for Arabic calligraphy writing, henna tattoos, Islamic prayers and Middle Eastern food from local restaurants. It also included a de-briefing discussion at the end of the day where students would be able to talk about the reactions they received.

The previous year’s events have done enough publicizing for this year. Past and prospective participants have asked about the event, eager to experience being Muslim for a day.

Participant rules included a ban on pork eating. There was also a new station teaching participants about Muslim prayers.

Facilitators of the program hope that by giving other students the chance to see the world through the eyes of someone completely different, it will make them aware of the discrimination still present today.

One of the ways the event was advertised was by holding a freeze mob on Friday, March 29 in front of the Lecture Center during which students dressed in hijabs and held up signs defending their right to do so.

“A lot of people don’t really know much about Islam and just learn what they see about it on television, so Muslims are seen as in a bad light,” Mudasser Javed, a fourth-year biochemistry major and member of the Muslim Student Association, said.“This program is an opportunity for people to step in our shoes and see how they go about their day and what types of reactions they get from other people.”