A Brown Christmas

Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

“I’m so excited! Tomorrow is Eid!”

“Eid? What are you talking about?”

I was flabbergasted. Eid was my whole life, what I eagerly anticipated all year long, and yet my classmate didn’t even know what it was! My 7-year-old mind couldn’t comprehend this.

“Well, you pray in the morning, visit everyone’s houses, do your henna…” But her face remained expressionless. I was speaking in a foreign tongue. “It’s like Christmas but for Muslims.”

“Oh!” Her face lit up in recognition. “Does Santa bring you presents too?”

Welcome to the life of a Muslim Bengali living in a predominantly white, Christian neighborhood. A life of being constantly misunderstood. People assume I’m Indian and are baffled when I clarify that I’m actually Bangladeshi. “Isn’t that the same thing?” Sure, if being British is the same thing as being American. Although India and Bangladesh were once united, they have long since separated and developed unique cultures. It’s easy to lump unfamiliar things into the same category if we don’t bother to examine the differences. In school when we study African or Latin American governments, we stamp them all as “corrupt,” masking years of individual histories and political thought.

When studying foreign governments we adopt...

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