We believe that our staff have an important role to play in ensuring our students feel recognized, validated, and celebrated in their identity. Each and every one of our students is unique and making a conscious effort to understand our students is one of the ways our staff can connect and build relationships with them.
In May, Deepa Ahluwalia, equity and inclusion officer for the Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB), invited our system leaders to participate in one day of fasting to mark Ramadan. Participants were invited to fast in a way that made sense for them. This included fasting from food and/or drinking, or giving up a favourite food/drink, for the whole or part of the day.
“We wanted to encourage [our system leaders] to participate because we wanted them to know what it feels like to fast for a full day,” said Ahluwalia. “If we know how it impacts our students, we are better able to empathize and understand what they are going through when they are in our schools and classrooms.”
.@DeepaWRDSB, our equity and inclusion officer, asked our #WRDSB senior team and administrators to participate in one day of fasting so we could get an understanding of what many of our students experience during #Ramadan. It’s been an incredible learning opportunity. #WRDSBlive pic.twitter.com/Pbj1Iuv3JB
— Waterloo Region DSB (@wrdsb) May 29, 2018
To conclude the day of fasting, participants were welcomed to break the fast during our first-ever Iftaar event at the Education Centre, which included presentations about Ramadan and Islamophobia from members of the Muslim community, a panel of Muslim students who shared stories of their school experiences and what is important to them, and a community dinner.
“The most that I have learned out of this experience, and speaking in front of all these educators, is that they really do care,” said Meena Waseem, one of the student panellists and a Cameron Heights Collegiate Institute (CHCI) student. “You could see them taking notes – it really was incredible. They really do care so much and listen to their students. It’s not just about them teaching us, but it was an opportunity for [the Muslim community] to teach them.”
Events such as this help give our system leaders a deeper understanding of the important cultural and religious practices our students participate in throughout the school year and makes our educators more aware of the impact fasting has on concentration and energy.
— Waterloo Region DSB (@wrdsb) May 30, 2018
The evening was an opportunity to gain understanding, learn from others and build relationships.