By Jesse Taylor
Ramadan is the holy month for followers of Islam. At SUNY Plattsburgh, the Muslim Student Association (MSA) provides students a sense of community during this time of celebration. Fatoumata Toure, vice president and one of the founders of MSA, has had an unusual experience this Ramadan. Toure has been studying abroad in the UK for the entirety of the spring semester.
Although being away from home has presented some difficulties for Toure in terms of celebrating Ramadan, MSA has been doing what it can to ensure that one of their founders still feels included within their organization.
As a follower of Islam, Toure usually celebrates Ramadan in the typical way, fasting from sun-up to sun-down, praying and gathering with friends and family to break fast or iftar. Having a sense of community during Ramadan is important. However while studying abroad, Toure has had difficulty finding that sense of community.
In preparation to study abroad, Toure had researched clubs and societies that she could celebrate Ramadan with. Her experience celebrating Ramadan in the UK has not been the best.
“They’re not very welcoming to new people, and it’s something that I had to learn the hard way,” Toure said. She did everything she could to put herself out there, but felt as if they were not accepting her.
UK colleges are currently on spring break for the month of April, making it even harder to find a community to celebrate Ramadan with. Despite this, Toure has still been doing what she can to celebrate Ramadan and recognizes that studying abroad is an amazing experience.
“I’ve met so many new people, I’ve met so many friends that I never thought I would ever make,” Toure said.
Despite her difficulties finding a community to celebrate Ramadan with, Toure has been doing what she can to participate. In addition to fasting, she keeps a journal that documents her experiences studying abroad.
“I write everything in there,” Toure said.
Although Toure has been celebrating Ramadan away from the MSA, she has still been doing everything she can to interact with the club.
“As a vice president, she is my right-hand person. She is always there for me to bounce back on,” Saran Kaba, president of the MSA, said. On the flipside, MSA has been doing everything they can to ensure that Toure still feels included and has support in Plattsburgh.
Throughout the semester, Kaba sets up a Zoom call at the club’s general meetings, so Toure can still present her ideas and give presentations. Although Toure is not in Plattsburgh physically, MSA can still feel her presence.
“Even though she is thousands of miles away, we still want her to be part of this club because she helped create this club,” Kaba said.
“We definitely miss her,” Kaba said. “I think I can speak for the whole club, we miss her presence.”