Category Archives: People

My Christmas Family Tradition

 

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My twin and I holding dolls created by mama

 

Earlier this semester I was given a speech assignment telling the class of my family’s tradition. Over and over I thought, what could I say? We never had enough money to celebrate like other families.

Some comments were made in a bragging tone about how a certain someone does not give to the homeless. These comments were made with no regard to students who may have or currently experiencing homelessness. Because of what my family and I went through, I took the statements hard and cried. I didn’t want to go to that class anymore. I spoke with many people about this issue. I was told to fire back with my pain and experience; I was encouraged to use what happened to me in my speech. This is my response to those comments:

“Good Evening everyone. Tonight I will be talking about my family’s Christmas tradition. According to the United States Census Bureau, in 1994, the year I was born, there were 8,053 families below the poverty line. In 2000, at the age of 6, there were 6,400 families below the poverty line. And finally, in 2004 at the age of 10, the number of families living below the poverty line was 7,835. This is important because among the many families who were below the poverty line in these years, was my own.

Many of you may be asking how this relates to my family tradition, and to answer the many silent questions, it relates because many poor families spend their Christmases without gifts, a tree, and even the basics like food. Despite all of this, my mother still managed to make sure we had the best Christmas we possibly could.

On Christmas day, many families exchange gifts, and the children, who are sometimes unappreciative, open gift after gift. We didn’t always have what other children had, such as the name brand clothes, high-tech toys…etc. But mama always made a way out of no way. My mother was very creative. Using her yarn kit, she made dolls, and even the clothes they had on. They were so pretty, and many kids wanted one. She made one for us every year. It’s something I will never forget.

Sometimes we couldn’t even afford a Christmas tree. It was between buying food and a tree; of course, the food won. However, with my mother’s creativity, she managed to create the sense of a tree for her children. She gathered sheets of paper, taped them to the wall, and drew a tree on it., She bought these shiny stickers from the dollar store and stuck them on like Christmas balls. It was so pretty, and it glowed in the dark. We didn’t have a real tree, but it was the best tree around. I strongly feel, in a good way, that no one celebrated Christmas like my family did.

What is a tradition? The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a tradition as the stories, beliefs, and I want to add the activities that have been part of a culture for a long time. My family’s tradition involved my mother using her creativity to put a smile on her children’s faces.

Thank you.” -Ashley Strange | Public Speaking Class

I just thought I should share this since Christmas is near. Even when we had no money, no food, ,and little clothes, because of my mother’s creativity, we never felt like we lacked anything. As we got older, reality hit us. But, we appreciated whatever we could get. I would give anything to have those days back with my mother.

Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

Historical Poverty Tables: People and Families – 1959 to 2015 2016. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.census.gov/data/tables/time-series/demo/income-poverty/historical-poverty-people.html

Tradition | Definition of Tradition by Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tradition

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Martin Luther King, Jr. Wasn’t About Peace?

579527_580678268633375_1935530676_nSomeone said,

“Whenever MLK left town, riots and violence followed. How was he about peace?”

My response was:

“He was about peace, and it was that fact that made whites DURING THAT TIME angry. But he knew what he was doing. The riots got media attention. Media played an important role in the Civil Rights movement. It got global attention and allies of the US started to question the US. They started asking “how can you come here and tell us how we should treat our people when you treat your own like trash.” When the US government started to lose support thanks to the media coverage of the riots, sit-ins, bombings, brutal beatings and killings, the government had to make changes and laws. It was a [very] good strategy to me.”

Reminder: Aging Out of the Foster Care System

Please help this single mother who is nearing emancipation:

“I have been in the foster care system for four and a half years now. I entered the system at fifteen and I will age out when I am twenty-one. My name is Olivia Alexander, I am currently nineteen so I have about a year and a half before I am out and completely on my own. I will have to provide for not only myself but my daughter as well. I am the main provider for us now but it is hard trying to provide what we need with the small stipend I get. It was a little easier when I was working but now that I am not it is difficult. I also attend college full time so trying to balance being a mother, a student, and trying to get a job can be a bit overwhelming. I am doing the best that I can to make sure  my daughter and I will be alright when I age out. I love my daughter more than anything in the whole galaxy! I just want to be the mother she desrves and provide her with a happy life. I don’t want to have to worry about where we will be laying our heads when I have to leave the system. That is why I started this campaign, to raise additional money that will go towards us moving. I know a year and a half seems far off but it comes sooner than thought sometimes and I want to be prepared for when it comes. My goal is to reach at least $3,000 but anything we get will be greatly appreciated!! A little help goes a long way, especially with my situation. Please give any help that you can even if it is only a dollar, it will be of so much help. I want to thank anyone in advance who will lend a helping hand..”

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Aging Out of the Foster Care System

Please help this single mother who is nearing emancipation:

“I have been in the foster care system for four and a half years now. I entered the system at fifteen and I will age out when I am twenty-one. My name is Olivia Alexander, I am currently nineteen so I have about a year and a half before I am out and completely on my own. I will have to provide for not only myself but my daughter as well. I am the main provider for us now but it is hard trying to provide what we need with the small stipend I get. It was a little easier when I was working but now that I am not it is difficult. I also attend college full time so trying to balance being a mother, a student, and trying to get a job can be a bit overwhelming. I am doing the best that I can to make sure  my daughter and I will be alright when I age out. I love my daughter more than anything in the whole galaxy! I just want to be the mother she desrves and provide her with a happy life. I don’t want to have to worry about where we will be laying our heads when I have to leave the system. That is why I started this campaign, to raise additional money that will go towards us moving. I know a year and a half seems far off but it comes sooner than thought sometimes and I want to be prepared for when it comes. My goal is to reach at least $3,000 but anything we get will be greatly appreciated!! A little help goes a long way, especially with my situation. Please give any help that you can even if it is only a dollar, it will be of so much help. I want to thank anyone in advance who will lend a helping hand..”

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Observation Report: Muslim For A Day

Over the semester, my Intercultural Communication class had to choose one culture to observe, write down our observations, and present them. We also had to back up our observation with research. As a Christian, the one culture I did not want to study was the Islamic faith. I tried to look for cultural events that were happening in the DMV, specifically about any Asian culture, but I found nothing. Time was passing fast and I had to find something; so, I gave in and decided to observe my friend, Dahabina, who is Muslim. I had some major struggles going into this project; I did not want to be influenced by their religion, I was afraid of what other Christians would say, and I was afraid that I wouldn’t be accepted among into the Mosque. I didn’t want to be associated with Muslims at all. But after remembering what my professor said about if a person’s faith is so strong they should be able to step outside of their religion and come back as if nothing ever changed, I decided to let go, and become a Muslim for a day. Below are my findings:

Through this Cultural Observation project, I’ve come to realize that the Muslims are probably the most misunderstood group of people in America. However, they don’t let that get to them. It takes a lot of courage to stay in this country, The Land of The Free, and fight for what they believe in. I spent about 2 and a half, or more, hours with Dahabina, wearing the Hijab and having a great conversation about what it means to be a Muslim, and discussing some of the myths, such as Muslims not believing in Jesus. This is absolutely false, and I have known this for some time, but I wasn’t sure how he was still significant to Muslims. To Muslims, Jesus is an important prophet named Issa, instead of the son of God as Christians know him.

I didn’t want to obtain information from Dahabina in the form of an interview, so we just had a casual conversation. She told me about her opinions of Donald Trump; she said that “Donald Trump is ignorant and racist.” She feels that “instead of attacking all Muslims, [Donald Trump] should try to get to know [them] as a whole.”

Muslims celebrate Ramadan, which is a special time for “inner reflection, devotion to God, and self-control.” Ramadan is the ninth month on the Islamic calendar. During Ramadan, Muslims fast by “abstain from food, drink, smoking, and marital sex” (“Islamic Holidays and Observances”). Dahabina said that dates (fruit) are eaten during Ramadan, along with samosa (fried pastry) and a lot of fruit juice. Muslims commonly break their fast at sunset with these foods, specifically dates because it was the custom of the Prophet Muhammad (“Islamic Holidays and Observances”). I also learned that Muslims can celebrate birthdays and Thanksgiving, but they cannot celebrate “Easter, Christmas, or any religious American holidays.”

I mentioned that I wore a hijab during my observation. When a women walks into the Mosque, they don’t need to have the hijab on, they just need to have it on for prayer. Dahabina explained that in Islamic countries, the hijab is required at all times. The hijab is a part of the dress code for Muslim women, and it serves as protection for women. It is important for the women to “cover their heads when in the presence of non-mahrem men,” potentially marriageable men. Wearing a hijab is not meant to degrade or oppress women, it is “a sign of purity and dignity” (“Hijab’s Protection”). When I wore the hijab, I felt respected by the men and the women. Everyone greeted me with “Assalamu Alaikum,” which I’ve learned a while ago means peace be upon you; it’s basically used to say hello.

Although I felt respected among the other Muslims, I did receive nasty stares from other people. When women wear hijabs, it singles them out to all the crazy and dangerous people in this world, the true terrorists. One incident that I will never forget is when I was walking into the mosque on The University of Maryland campus with my friend and other girls, and there was this White guy outside holding a sign that said “Jesus Saves.” He was shouting, “You are all going to hell” at the top of his lungs. I was terrified; I didn’t know if he was planning to burn the building down or not. I asked my friend if the guy was doing this because we were going inside and she said that he probably was. She said not to worry because this happens all the time, and that Allah would protect them. This is why I said that Muslims are brave; I can’t imagine going through things like this every day.

During the prayer, I observed things that were similar and different to that of a Christian church. One difference is that you must take off your shoes when entering the Mosque. Everyone sit on the floor on prayer mats, with the women sitting directly behind the men. Women who are on their menstrual cycle are not allowed to pray because it is considered unclean. Dahabina explain that it’s not to single women out, and it doesn’t mean that a women is unclean. I still don’t have a clear understanding of this. Just because a women is not allowed to pray on their cycle, it doesn’t mean that they are excluded from the message. They are allowed to hear the message, and observe the prayer, just not participate. I was able to witness them bow and pray; they did this several times before the prayer was over.

The similarities were a little shocking to me. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting the Imam, Muslim priest, to deliver the message that he did. The Imam talk about letting situations go and letting Allah take control. He said that worrying will not make anything better, that why they should trust in Allah. Allah would will take on all of your problems. He also talk about confessing sins, and praying and asking for forgiveness. This is a message that I hear all the time at my church, so I was able to understand and agree with what he said. This was also a major turning point for me; I realized that, although Christianity and Islam are two different religions, they are similar in many ways.

This project provided me with an experience that I’ll never forget. Although I had my worries, I let go of my personal feelings and beliefs for one day to step into the life of someone else. It wasn’t easy to do at all, but it had to be done, and I realized that it wasn’t so bad. Through this experience I learned that Muslims still believe in Jesus, but not as the son of God. I learned about Dahabina’s personal feelings about Donald Trump and his statement towards Muslims, and that during Ramadan Muslims have specific traditional foods that they like to eat. I was able to experience wearing a Hijab, and although some people were not as welcoming with their stares, the Muslims welcomed me with opened arms. And, despite having that terrifying incident outside of the Mosque, the actual prayer was great. I observed many things that were different and similar to what I would do or hear in my church. I feel that this experiences will help me in the future to not be so judgmental against people who are different from me, and I have grown to respect those of the Islamic faith, “a person who submits to the will of God” (Difference Between Islam and Muslim).

 

 

References

Difference Between Islam and Muslim. (2009, November 27). Retrieved November 30, 2015, from http://www.differencebetween.net/miscellaneous/difference-between-islam-and-muslim/

 

Hijab’s Protection. (n.d.). Retrieved November 28, 2015, from http://www.iupui.edu/~msaiupui/hijab_protect.html

 

Islamic Holidays and Observances. (n.d.). Retrieved December 1, 2015, from http://www.colostate.edu/Orgs/MSA/events/Ramadan.html

Update to Photograph Page

Hello all,

New photos have been added. Check them out!

Reminder: Celebration of Life for 13 year old BJ

Almost at $5,000! Please donate and thank you to all who have helped this family out so far!

A message from the family of BJ:

Family and Friends,

It is with great regret that we come to you today asking for your support. On October 2nd, the unimaginable happened. Our sister Dina Abdul Kareem lost her only son, BJ. While she is already struggling with trying to cope with the lost of her first born, at the tender age of 13, she is also battling with trying to find a way to bring her baby back home to Washington, DC. The cost to bring him back home from Missouri alone is well over $11, 000. This cost does not include any burial. While no mother should ever have to endure this pain, Dina also has to figure out financial expenses. This plea for support will aid in the burial and travel cost for BJ and the family. Any support is greatly appreciated!

Click here to donate. This family needs our help. Show them love.