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Posted by on Wednesday, March 29, 2017 in Cultural Awareness.

Farishtay Yamin, ’17,
School of Engineering

I tolerate a fly buzzing around a room. I tolerate an electricity outage. Maybe I complain, but I’ve learned to become patient. The fly irritates me, but I have to deal with it. It’s a fact of life.

My freshman year I prayed somewhere in the stacks of Peabody Library, because I didn’t have time to go back to my room. I carefully chose a secluded spot with no traffic—on the top floor in a far corner. I made a prayer mat out of notebook paper, took a black scarf out of my backpack, and prayed as fast as I could.

“No one comes up here; you’ll be fine. But what if someone sees me? You don’t have time to pray the second half; get out of here fast and take your scarf off.”

I breathed with relief when my prayer ended. The day before, a man had wandered into my corner, stared at me, and ran out before I could say something. The previous day I saw two girls grimace as they watched my friend pray in a study room. And another time, a girl smirked when she saw me wash my elbows in the sink before I prayed.

Malaysian studentSure, they exhibited tolerance. They were displeased. They were amused. They were condescending, but hey, they let me pray, right? As long as they didn’t rip my scarf off, they were tolerant.But tolerance and acceptance are two different things. When you see someone doing something different, that may be strange to you, don’t smirk. Don’t laugh. Ask questions. You can ask me why I’m praying in a corner of Peabody Library or why I washed my elbows. But I ask that you accept me as your equal. Don’t make another student feel scared to pray in the library. Don’t simply tolerate them. Learn about and accept their identity. Accept their differences.


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