Here at the University of Rochester, we have great campus diversity, and part of that diversity includes females who wear the hijab, which is a head covering traditionally worn by some Muslim females. Women who wear a hijab are known as hijabi women. Earlier this month, I participated in a new University of Rochester event called "Hijabi for a Day," which was inspired by the worldwide event "World Hijab Day." This event was cosponsored by the Muslim Student Association and the Students' Association Interfaith Cooperation as an invitation for non-hijab-wearing-Muslims and non-Muslim women to experience wearing the hijab and to show solidarity with those who choose to.The hijab signifies modesty in appearance and behavior, so we were encouraged to wear long sleeves and pants to better adhere to these principles. If you didn't want to wear a hijab, but wanted to support the event (or if you identified as male), you could wear a sticker in support of the day's goals of inclusion and understanding.
Ready for my day in the hijab!
I didn't tell anyone that I was going to participate in Hijabi for a Day, hoping to receive sincere reactions from the people I interact with on a daily basis. I was surprised when some people I know didn't recognize me at first. The majority of my friends were really curious as to what I was doing, and felt comfortable asking me why I was wearing a hijab, which enabled me to explain the meaning of the day to them. However, some classmates whom I'm not as close with were not as comfortable. I could feel their stares and their pressing questions, which went unanswered because they were unasked. To be honest, before this day, I'd never considered asking a hijabi woman why she wears a hijab, but I'm glad I got the chance to experience what it's like and to expand my cultural horizons.
A happy bunch of Hijabi for a Day participants!
After being hijabi for a day, we had a reflection period with the majority of the participants. It was great to hear the stories from the other girls who had participated and to hear the diversity of reactions to their change in appearance. Like me, the majority of them hadn't told anyone. There were positive responses and negative responses, but overall, the day provoked discussion about the hijab, its meaning, and people's perceptions of it. Whether someone wears a hijab for one day or every day, here are the University of Rochester, we are part of a community where differences can be shared and celebrated.
What are your thoughts on Hijabi for a Day? Would you consider participating if it became an annual event?