Webster University students Wafa and Lydia, both have faced much hardship from being Muslim women in American.
By: Antoine Bass
Wafa Osman and Lydia Apriliani are both women of Muslim descent.
“My senior year of high school, one of my teachers called me a terrorist.”
This quote came from Wafa, a student at Webster University. Wafa immigrated to the United States when she was 8 years old and has faced her share of adversity being a woman of Muslim descent living in the states.
According to a January 2016 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, 49% of Americans think “some” U.S. Muslims are anti-American.
When Wafa first came to the United States she was enrolled in an alternative school for students who were from a foreign country. She described it as being weird because it was a room filled with kids who spoke different languages.
She said they essentially, they stared at each other all day.
She was in 4th grade reading at a kindergarten level. To help herself understand English more she’d read a lot in her spare time and would even watch television shows with the subtitles on, so she could learn more.
Wafa worked as hard as she could and eventually enrolled in a regular city middle school. This experience was different than what she had been used to. She recalled that people would look at her strange because she wore a hijab.
She mentioned that sometimes kids would pull on the scarf of her hijab and make fun of her because of her religion.
While she was in middle school, Osama Bin Laden was killed. Wafa had no idea who he was or what 9/11 was which was strange to her peers and teachers.
“No, not every Muslim person knows each other,” she said with a laugh.
One of the strangest things Wafa experienced within the American culture was seeing children talk back to their parents. She laughed and said, “As I watched, I would think if I ever talked back to my parents, I’d get slapped upside the head.”
Lydia Apriliani is also a student at Webster University. Lydia is from Indonesia and immigrated to the United States for educational purposes.
Lydia wasn’t used to how open Americans were at first. She recalls that when she first immigrated to the United States her peers would ask her questions such as, “are you married?” “do you have your masters?” “how old are you?”
Questions such as these would catch her off guard at first because where she is from people don’t ask many questions about someone’s career or life. She admits that adapting was a little hard at first, but now she understands and is fine with it.
She recalled there were many times where people stared at her because she was wearing her hijab in public. Though, she says she understands and is okay with it.
“I know there is racism in the world, but I don’t like to speak about it because there isn’t anything, I can do about it.”
Even though she’s faced some discrimination because of her religion, Lydia said she has met many kind people in the world. This is a huge reason as to why she likes to travel. She enjoys the experiences of building new connections and connecting with new cultures.
Though being around a new culture can be strange when you come from a different background.
Another thing Lydia found strange was driving on the right side of the road. In Indonesia, they drive on the left side of the road which at first left Lydia a bit confused.
“Sometimes I miss the bus because I’ll be on the wrong side of the road,” she said as she smiled.
Lydia spoke of her first experience seeing snow. She hadn’t seen snow before until she came to the United States and emphasized how beautiful it was. “I was cold, but I didn’t care how cold I was because it was so beautiful.” She said.
Though, all good things must end as she admitted that after a while, she got cold and just wanted to go back inside and go to bed.
It has been different for both Wafa and Lydia as living as Muslim women in America but they both have found great and loving support around them and are happy with where they are and who they are.
They may have not been born in America, but they are both Americans.