Yesterday, I visited the ISNA (Islamic Society of North America) high school which is a private school for Muslim students here in my home town of Mississauga. I had blogged about this event in advance recently but the day finally came yesterday for the big event. I was billed as the karate champion who will come in and help these Muslim students with their diversity challenges and diversity discrimination.
Even with an advance meeting with school officials to learn proper customs for the event, I really didn’t know what to expect in terms of reception. I made an effort to learn an Arabic greeting which was ‘Asalaam-u-alaikum’ and used it during my opening. I had help from my friend from Rogers TV, Wasim Parkar. This was well received by all and help set the tone for the rest of my talk.
I kind of knew that the boys will be pretty lively since boys are boys no matter what culture. I just wasn’t sure about the girls especially since in this situation, they might be more conservative as they all had hijabs on and were in a ‘no-touch’ with males scenario.
But to my pleasant surprise, the girls were just as responsive as the boys if not more during most parts of my talk. The girls and boys had pretty well an equal number of questions near the end of my presentation which was a good sign.
I did a book signing for the Muslim students afterwards and photos were taken by their staff as well as two local newspapers who were present. A TV crew from local news also came and we had coverage on TV as well (I’ll put the link to the news clip soon).
When I got home, I went through the photos that were taken by my own camera since I wanted a few shots for this blog and my motivational speaker website. What really dawned on me especially from the shot with the girls, is that I knew that I really did something special today. I went in and helped a group of people with their diversity challenges.
The local Muslim community unfortunately has suffered some diversity discrimination because of international incidents and many of them here (and I’m sure elsewhere) have found it difficult to integrate with the rest of Canadian society. I was invited as a non-Muslim to come help these students and it was a real honour to do so. As a visible minority myself, I have had many more years of experience dealing with discrimination in Canada and managed to achieve success despite it. I had some great tips to pass on to these students (as well as adults who were present).
I felt a real sense of pride in doing this particular presentation to this audience. It was a real special moment for me and I will remember this talk as one of my most memorable experiences in my speaking career so far. You will probably sense this as well when you see the photos below. I don’t speak at a lot of schools since adults are my main audiences but will consider some if I think they are worthwhile to do. I have a separate presentation called “Creating Awesome Future Successes For Youth and Teens” just for the youth audience.