Reflections by Hannah
Bringing Understanding to College Campuses
Student Group Leader, Walking the Walk
Beth Am Israel
Last summer, after completing my first year with Walking the Walk, I was part of a social action program at a university. In my class was a Jordanian girl, my age, named Zaha. I knew that she was a Jordanian Muslim here to experience America and learn about social justice. She knew I was an American Jew who, like her, loved the Jonas Brothers. I wanted to be friends with her because I wanted to know more about her, her culture, and her beliefs, and I wanted her to know about mine. I knew that each of our cultures taught us stereotypes about one another that I wanted to prove false.
As the days passed we became really close. We expressed our mutual desire for peace. One day we were having a conversation in class. All I remember is that Isaac, a tall, lanky boy with a deep voice and scruffy beard, made a comment about Muslims who are raised to be terrorists, who are brought up to be warriors of their faith. The ease with which he spoke about that stereotype shocked some, and hurt Zaha. Saying she had to go to the bathroom, she walked briskly out of the classroom, tears beginning to form in her brown eyes. I followed her, and we began to talk. She told me about the misconceptions people have about her religion.
Our teacher came outside to see what was happening. She told us we should go inside and tell the class what we had just told each other. Fortunately, the class responded well. They understood that she was rightfully upset. Some of them got tears in their eyes as well. It was a pretty emotional experience. Isaac apologized. Zaha and I looked at each other and smiled. I thank Walking the Walk for empowering me to make a difference in my friends, in my community, and hopefully in the global community.