I sincerely apologize to everyone who posted a comment - I just spent a great deal of time reading them all and greatly appreciate them. I believe I have made them available for everyone else to see (except for a couple that were marked private). Me and my lack of blog-saviness, that only on Eid, the end of Ramadan, have I figured it out!
So for everyone who has been reading the blog, take a minute (or several) and go back and read all the highly informational comments that people generously took the time to post in response to my queries.
I am still processing my experience, so will post a summative reflection in a couple of days, but wanted to say a few things now.
This past month has gone by so quickly. When I began, I worried what I had gotten myself into (i.e. could I handle my undertaking), and a month seemed like an eternity. Now, the opposite seems true, a month is very short and I feel like I handled the situation very well, and am already thinking of repeating the process next year.
A colleague seems to think that my experience is only quantifiable in the fact that I know when sunset is each day. She has asked me this question several times during the past month, as if that is all I have gotten out of the experience. I know that not everyone understands my motivations (and they certainly evolved over time, so are hard to keep track of), but I am sad that the effort does not seem more broad reaching than when iftar is.
I attended an iftar at school sponsored by the MSA, and was asked to speak briefly. I was listed on the agenda as having 15 minutes, which was a very daunting prospect. Happily for me, the evening ran behind, so I was able to explain my process, etc. briefly and answer the one question that was asked, which ran much under 15 minutes. Despite being a teacher, and speaking in the pseudo public situation that is a high school classroom on a daily basis, true public speaking is something that still makes me nervous. Cross that with the notion of speaking about something that has the potential to seem uber-personal to me at a given moment, and I was anxious. I believe it went well, and as always, people were very welcoming and wonderful to me before and after. In fact, a woman who will be working in our school’s career center had greeted me when I arrived at the iftar and wanted to know if I wore hijab to school everyday, and was very glad to hear that several teachers do, without concern. Honestly, our school is so diverse that it never even crossed my mind that I would have any trouble or upsetting encounters there; my curiosity had more to do with dealings out in the community. In fact, given absences today for Eid, the hallways were noticeably less crowded than normal during passing time, and markedly quieter too (not to imply that the Muslim students are the loud ones, just that the amassing of 1500 students moving between classes simultaneously can create quite a din!)
I got a gift of new clothes today for Eid. A student whom I have become friends with gave me a beautiful set of clothing that I will be wearing to school tomorrow (my first non-hijab day in more than a month). It is from her home country of Pakistan, and is lovely - both the outfit and the thought and generosity behind it. So I started this month with receiving material gifts for my journey, and end it with material gifts as well; and all along the way the understanding and support and interest in my endeavor have been non-quantifiable, intangible gifts that I can never repay except to again say "Thank you".
Lastly, for today, I intend to keep posting here as I continue to read all the books and websites that people have loaned and suggested to me, and watching the videos and DVDs as well. I have found this site to be a great way of processing my thoughts, feelings, questions, etc. and intend to continue to do so. And now that I have found out how to read and make comments available, it has been a great source of answers to my questions! One thing that I have learned this month is that there is so much that I don’t know that I don’t know, that all I can do is continue to learn by reading, and talking, and reflecting, and experiencing.