30 / 05 / 18
In this edition of interfaith voices, Jenna reflects on this months theme Faith, Belief, Inclusion and Acceptance. She looks to her heritage and how the differences in her parents made inclusiveness and acceptance second nature. Moreover she considers the lack of inclusion her disabled brother has faced and an absence of understanding demonstrated the importance of education on diversity and disability.
Acceptance and Inclusion is something that has become very important to me. I come from a very mixed household, my mother is Irish and my father is Egyptian and Syrian. Growing up in such a diverse household with two, very different outlooks on faith and belief never seemed like something to be concerned with. Both my parents were very accepting of each others beliefs and backgrounds so, for me I never looked at difference as something that mattered.
When I grew up I started to see what lack of inclusion was like, I have a severely disabled brother who you could say ‘looks’ different. To me I have never know anything else, he was just my brother. To my friends who were perhaps seven at the time, he was something new and different and therefore scary. I remember them running out scared of him and I didn’t understand why. Now reflecting back on it I can understand why seven year olds would find his difference scary . However when you grow older you are more aware of the world, the differences that set us apart, but also the similarities that unify us. What is very important for me is that now my friends are older they don’t see him like this anymore and I think it demonstrates an important lesson in education on diversity and disability and how it can make a huge difference on peoples outlook on inclusion and open-mindedness.
Having an inclusive approach was something that I wasn’t aware I had until much older, I always made sure that myself and others never left anyone out. However as I got older and went into secondary school I started to see lack of inclusion around me. Many groups within my school were segmented by colour, religion and origin. I think perhaps such a new and diverse environment must have been very daunting and even scary for these girls. When young people are faced with new situations they usually revert to safety, which in this case were people they thought they would automatically understand, people of the same heritage which lead to this segmentation. However, as time went on and people began to become more comfortable, they began to reach out and connect with others, there was so much more integration. Inclusiveness started to become more normal and everyone had the chance to learn more about one another. I felt more comfortable with people connecting with others and making new friends, I was happy that they were not limiting themselves to their ethic, cultural or religious groups.
I take inclusion very seriously, most of my friends are from all over the place, and I like the fact that they expose me to new traditions, beliefs and views. It’s what makes our friendship so unique and strong. I will always advocate for inclusion and open-mindedness as I believe it is the main reason why I have the relationships I have today, it has allowed me to make real connections with others and provided me with the opportunity to meet amazing people.
28 / 02 / 19
28 / 02 / 19