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December 12, 2010
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Throughout elementary school, club soccer consumed a large portion of time on weekday evenings and weekend mornings. As I had played for a couple of years, I began to grow close to several of my teammates, including a girl named Hanna. During several seasons, Hanna and I had landed on the same team, and we often joined together during partner drills. While I had always noticed that Hanna’s mother had worn a headdress, I was entirely unaware of the existence of the different religions surrounding me and the importance of my friend, Hanna.
Beginning in October of one particular soccer season when I was nine years old, I observed that Hanna no longer consumed any sports drink or snacks throughout practice or even our scorching games. As Hanna and I approached the sideline during halftime of a game, I questioned Hanna about why she did not want anything to drink or eat, considering we were both drenched in sweat as well as out of breath. Hanna responded quickly: Ramadan. I asked Hanna a second time because I thought I had misunderstood, but, once again, she answered Ramadan. Suddenly, the coach gathered the team together, and I no longer had the opportunity to ask what or even who Ramadan was as the whistle for the second half sounded.
That afternoon, as my mother and I drove home from Lafreniere Park, I asked my mom about Ramadan and its meaning to Hanna. Though surprised, my mother replied that Hanna was of a different religion. She was a Muslim, and Ramadan was an Islamic holy month in which Muslims abstained from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset. For the remainder of the car ride, I pondered Hanna’s faith and came to the conclusion that Hanna must truly believe in her religion as well as its traditions in order to sacrifice her much-deserved refreshments during the soccer season.
Due to this experience, I began to recognize the various religions around me, while I also hoped that I could one day have as much faith in my religion as Hanna. Additionally, Hanna inspired me to gain more knowledge of my Catholic faith as I sorted through my own beliefs. To this day, I reflect upon my encounters with Hanna and the important lesson of awareness that she so politely taught me.





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