Friday, 21 March 2014

Multicultural Day

Every Wednesdays, our local library has a kids crafts class and they have a different theme each week. This week their theme was Islam. The librarians asked me to host it, and share my experiences as a Muslim with the kids and the moms. I read a few Muslim nursery rhymes and explained some of the basic Muslim/Islamic terminology. (Example, that "Allah" is just an Arabic word for God.). After I finished reading, the librarians and some of the moms asked me various questions about my religion and about my headscarf. Questions like, "Do you have hair or are you bald?", "How long is your hair?", "Do your scarves have to match your clothes?", "How many times do you pray?", and "How long is each prayer?". After I was done answering everyone's questions, we did some Islamic art. We used paper plates to make crescent moons out of them. Then we used pipe cleaners to dangle a star from each moon. The kids used markers and sparkly beads to decorate their moon and star. I was very nervous at first, but it seemed like it went okay! Below are some of the things I took with me to show everyone. On the left are some of my different coloured headscarves. And on the right is one of my favourite prayer mats, which my parents bought for me from Turkey. This particular one is actually reversible.

Here is my lovely artwork! All the kids did such a great job with theirs. =)

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Small Town Struggles

A few weeks ago, my friend (who is the head librarian at the local library) asked me if I could come in and help out with a kid's craft program. So I went, but all the children were shy around me and looked at me funny. I suspected it might be because I wear a headscarf, which most people in Peterborough are not accustomed to. I whispered into my friend's ear and said, "I think the kids might be afraid of me."

She replied that yes, this is possible. Living in a predominantly Caucasian town/city, they may not have as much exposure to different religions and/or cultures. I never had to deal with this in Toronto, since it's such a large multicultural community. I've accepted the fact that I am "different" compared to most of my neighbours.

Nobody is ever rude or racist. People are just curious and ask a lot of questions. Sometimes they ask questions which I've never gotten before, like asking me what kind of alcohol I like drinking or why I don't eat pork. I try to remind myself that they probably don't know Muslims don't drink alcohol or eat anything that comes from pig.

So, the local library is planning to do their first multicultural craft day in a few weeks and want me to come in and talk to the kids a little bit about my culture and religion. And let them know why I dress differently than everyone else in the community. Furthermore, we will also be making some Islamic art work. I am a tad bit nervous, but all the librarians and moms are super excited about what I have to say! I am very grateful that the local library is open to doing something like this.

Living in two very different cities/towns, I know that no matter where I live, it will have it's pros and cons.