In an age of American nationalism marred by the constant blemish of Islamophobia, it is more pertinent than ever to be understanding of one another’s culture. Given the constant stream of xenophobic rhetoric that has taken a front row seat in our current political climate, a lack of cultural awareness cannot be permissible.
As a community, Fairfield is taking steps to broaden our blooming campus with Discover Islam Week, a week long celebration of Islamic culture that includes a night of calligraphy, a traditional Islamic dinner and even an opportunity for students to wear a hijab for a day. Fairfield is not the first college to embrace an Islamic awareness week. Events such as these have taken place at surrounding institutions like Quinnipiac University, the University of Connecticut and Yale University.
Events such as Fairfield’s Discover Islam Week help to educate students about a rich culture that continues to be depicted in a negative manner by newsoutlets. With recent events that have been occurring in the news especially with the upcoming elections, this awareness week is vital for our generation.
Look to none other than Republican candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, whose anti-Muslim rhetoric have sparked controversy, especially with the whole debacle of tracking these individuals in light of the recent terrorist attacks committed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. As our thoughts are constantly clouded with messages conveyed by these candidates, events such as the night of calligraphy enlighten us with the culture behind this religion.
In this day-and-age, cultural tolerance must not only be a for a week, but rather a continuous celebration regarding the different aspects of our different experiences and cultures. While it is important for colleges and universities to provide an environment where students can safely appreciate cultural differences that safe environment will not necessarily extend into a larger social context.
For a generally small Jesuit institution, it is commendable that our student body is able to offer such an event and keep the awareness of cultures prominent on our homogenous campus. We cannot stress the importance of taking part in as many of these culturally celebrative events as possible. Whether it be Women’s History Month or the Fairfield County Irish Festival, the cultural importance of these events signifies a much needed shift toward a more accepting culture rather than maintaining the isolationist identity that our country has adapted.
In an effort to move toward the acceptance of cultures, we must remember that despite variations, we can all find a common bond in the art of camaraderie and remember that we all possess a humanistic connection that stretches beyond borders and transcends cultures.