Jessey Eagan is in the 15th day of her Muslim like me experiment.
The White woman returned to the United States five years ago after spending about 18 months in Amman, Jordan teaching.
Her experience taught her the experience of being an outsider “and sticking out like a sore thumb.”
The blonde hair blue eyed Christian then got a job when she returned to Peoria, Illinois filling in as a teacher at a Muslim school.
Fast forward to today. For Lent, she has decided to wear a hijab to remind herself “what it feels like to be an outsider – “the other”. Wearing hijab in the States is like being a blonde-haired, blue-eyed woman in the Middle East. So, I’m practicing hospitality this Lent by getting into the shoes (or hijab) of my Muslim friends and neighbors. I feel this is especially important now as there is increasing animosity once again from (white) Americans towards Muslims in our communities, which honestly makes me nervous about the idea.”
So how’s her little experiment going? As you might suspect, she’s received quite a lot of comments, both negative and positive.
So what has she learned? She says she’s learned that she can be judgmental and assume people will react a certain way when in fact it just the opposite.
She’s learned more about Muslim traditions and practices, many which she had learned in Jordan but forgot back in Peoria.
But perhaps her most eye opening experience happened in her interaction with a Christian friend.
“This person was astonished that I would wear the hijab, as it is, to him, a symbol of 1400 years of oppression of Muslim women. Instead of seeking to understand my purpose in wearing the hijab for Lent, which is to learn new ways to show hospitality to neighbors, strangers, and enemies, all this person saw was me supporting the ideology of Islam. This person even said I was supporting ISIS by wearing the hijab. Completely ridiculous.”
You can follow all 40 days of Eagan’s journey in her personal blog.