The eighth grade’s unit on Islam culminated with a special Islamic Banquet Day on November 14. Held in Gandhi Hall, the celebration commenced with a presentation, “A Conversation with a Quaker and a Bahraini,” featuring eighth grade team leader Mark Tompkins and a Ross senior. Each spoke about how they came to their faith and how it influences them. The senior also answered questions about Islam, life in Bahrain, and her decision to wear a hijab, or traditional head scarf, at school.
An important part of Islamic Banquet Day are student presentations about traditional and 20th century Islamic luminaries. Dressing and performing as their subjects, the students discussed their accomplishments and answered questions from fellow luminaries in the audience.
Following the presentations, the class watched a slideshow of their self-portraits, which combined the art of calligraphy with black-and-white photographs of themselves. The self-portraits were inspired by Iranian-born American artist Shirin Neshat’s photo collection, “Women of Allah.” Neshat was exiled from her homeland in 1979 during the Islamic Revolution. When she returned 11 years later, the country bore little resemblance to the place she had grown up in. “Women of Allah” was born from this experience. After the viewing, students engaged in Middle Eastern games, including tournaments of chess, checkers, and backgammon. They completed the day with reflections and discussion.
To help celebrate Islamic Banquet Day, the Café chefs served a special lunch highlighting foods from the Middle East. The entire Ross Upper School feasted on dates, raisins, marinated feta, dolmas, Greek yogurt, pomegranates, lentils, grilled yogurt-marinated chicken breasts, Moroccan chickpea stew, spiced rice and potatoes, Swiss chard, and tofu with saffron sauce.