CHARLOTTE, N.C. — In a time when people feel so far apart and traditions have been turned upside down due to COVID-19, a Charlotte teacher is reaching out in a unique way to connect with one of her students.
"I really wanted to be connected and understand what was going on during this time," said Tamara Page.
Page says on a recent Zoom lesson, she noticed one of her usually vocal fifth-graders, Nora Mohamed, was a little low energy. She found out it was because she had started fasting for the Muslim holiday of Ramadan.
The teacher with Chantilly Montessori told Nora she wanted to take the season to learn more about this practice and why it's done.
"I want to join you in this because I believe there's strength in numbers, and I also want you to show pride in your culture," Page said.
Nora's mom Isra says the gesture has made this Ramadan a special one for them.
"I remember I got teary-eyed when she mentioned so casually, 'Oh, Ms. Tamara says she's going to fast with me,'" said Isra. "No matter who you are and where you come from. We all have blind spots, and if you want to understand what lies in your blind spot, you should go to the people living in that space."
Nora says it's also given her a unique chance to reverse roles and be the teacher.
"I gave her more detailed things like how to hydrate in the morning. What to break your fast with," said Nora.
Recently, Nora and her mom even brought over some traditional foods to help Page break her fast, and Page says it's nourished her spirit and mind.
"Don't be afraid to ask questions," said Page. "You have to be intentional with that. I think people enjoy talking about their culture and sharing if we just give them that space to do it."
"Build bridges and connections and find the similarities that bring us together," said Isra, on what this experience has meant to her family.
Thanks to Isra for reaching out on Nextdoor with this story idea. To send Vanessa an idea, visit her Nextdoor profile and send her a message.