The prompt is: The quality of Rice's academic life and the Residential College System are heavily influenced by the unique life experiences and cultural traditions each student brings. What perspective do you feel that you will contribute to life at Rice?
Tell me if I really answered the question; I felt like I was blabbing after a while, lol!
Everyone in my second grade class was reading a book when my teacher's phone began to ring. After a couple of minutes on the phone, tears began to fall from her eyes. The whole class stared. She whispered, "everyone, please work on this worksheet I'll be right back," and left the room. All my classmates were wondering what was going on. I, too, was confused. I looked at the worksheet and wrote my name at the top. "What's the date"" I asked my friend. "Look at the board," she said. September 11, 2011. Little did I know, this day marked the beginning of a new lifestyle filled with discrimination, stereotypes, and struggles to fit in with the rest of the American people.
We got out of school early that day. When my mom picked me up, I could tell she had been crying. I asked her what was wrong, but she insisted it was nothing, s I decided to just let it go. That night, my mom and I went to Wal-Mart. I loved Wal-Mart. I loved all the different people I encounter there and, of course, all the free food samples. We walked in, and at once, everyone began to stare at my mom and me. I am used to a few people staring at us since we wear a hijab, like many other Muslims, but this time was different. This time, scores of people were staring at us. I didn't think much of it. Then, I heard a woman whisper "damn terrorists" behind us. I figured she wasn't talking about my mom and me, so I disregarded the comment. Soon, more and more people were whispering comments like this. Some were hard to catch, while others seemed more obvious. I kept asking my mom why everyone was acting so weird, but she wouldn't answer. As we were getting into the car, somebody drove past us yelling, "Go back to your own damn country, terrorists!" This time, it wasn't a subtle whisper I could shrug off my shoulders. My mom's lips began to tremble. I felt my stomach drop, and my hands started to shake. My heart pounded, and tears filled my eyes. My cheeks turned red. But instead of sadness, I began to feel rage and anger. Who did this woman think she was? My mom had not done anything to her. I then did something I regret to this day. As I was crying, I angrily shouted, "Big meanie!" Of course, I was only in second grade. I didn't know hat I was saying or doing. I had let my emotions take control.
When we got home, my mom explained to me what had happened. She told me about the bombing of the World Trade Center and explained to me what al-Qaida was.
"Wait, I don't understand." I said. "What does this have anything to do with you and me?" She went on to explain that al-Qaida is a radical Muslim organization. At that point, I was very confused. How could someone that practiced the same religion as me feel that it was his duty to God to perform such a horrific action? That is when my mom made it very clear that these Muslims were wrong. She explained that these radical, extremist Muslims were wrong. They were different than us. She explained that Islam is a very peaceful religion, and al-Qaida misinterprets and misrepresents the Quran, which clearly states that no one should ever take an innocent life. One thing people fail to realize is that 9/11 was a tragic day for Muslims as well as the rest of the population. On this day, I shed a tear for all the innocent lives lost, a tear for all the families that lost a loved one, and a
tear for all the Muslims, who would face a new struggle to be accepted by a community that they had been a part of for years.
After this tragic day, many Muslims felt obligated to compensate for a crime they did not even commit. For example, some Muslims decided to take off their scarves to avoid the racism and criticism they would be subjected to. It is upsetting that the actions of one wrong Muslim group are starting to affect all of the followers of Islam in America. I am heartbroken by the fact that these earnest people were placed in a situation that pressured them to deny their own faith to fit into a country we call the melting pot.
Today, I still face discrimination. It has toned down, but people still stare at me and talk about me as I walk by. Some people even have the audacity to ask if I support the acts of Osama Bin Laden. On the night that Bin Laden died, my classmate joked, "sorry about your Uncle Bin." Surprised by the comment, I rolled my eyes and turned away. People like this are constantly shooting hurtful psychological bullets at me. However, I don't make the same mistake I had made ten years ago. I do not respond with rage and anger. Today, I dodge these bullets that people shoot at me. I don't let these bullets wound me-affect me. I am strong enough to handle this ignorance. I do not let their comments affect me. In the great words of Mohandas Gandhi, "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind." While these comments hurt, I cannot and do not let them phase me. I've come to learn over the years that it is not what people call me, but what I respond to that defines me as a person.
Today, I don't let stereotypes bring me down, but I do feel sorry for the people who let it cloud their judgment. I have learned not to respond with anger. Today, I speak out. I let them know not only how hateful their message is, but also how ignorant their comments make them seem. I encourage people to keep an open mind, rather than relying on the false portrayals of Islam that they see in the media. Islam is a peaceful religion, and Muslims are kind people. I dream that one day, the world will see Islam and Muslim people the way that I do. I hope to share this story with the students at Rice University, so that I can spread true awareness about Islam to my future colleagues and make life at Rice even more diverse.