Diversity Dialogue at UVU

Reading Time: 2 minutes The Utah Valley University Multicultural Student Council hosted Diversity Dialogue, where students Fatoumat Konate and Sara Alam spoke on growing up in the Muslim faith.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

This week the Utah Valley University Multicultural Student Council hosted a Diversity Dialogue, an opportunity for students to come together to hear the experiences of one another. This presents a chance for students to learn, grow, and be more accepting of each other. 

 The Multicultural Center hosted the Diversity Dialogue with two students: Fatoumat Konate of Mali, West Africa, and Sara Alam from Kansas City, Missouri. Both women were raised in Muslim communities and shared their experiences of being part of the Muslim community and moving to Utah. 

Alam said when she first moved to Utah, she didn’t know where her place was. When she was with her Muslim friends Alam felt she had to be browner, and with her white friends, she had to be more white. By being able to serve as a UVU ambassador and on the Multicultural Student Council she found her place where she could genuinely be herself. 

Konate stated that as she has gotten older she’s felt more pressure to practice the religion of Islam. But that it’s been her own choice and that she is taking small steps to be immersed in the religion. 

Both of these women during the Diversity Dialogue talked about some of the core values of Islam being about respecting and accepting others no matter what religion they were. Since September 11, 2001, they have often been looked at differently because of the color of their skin and the religion they practice. 

Since moving to Utah, Konate and Alam said they have found people to be nicer than they expected. They said they felt less judged about what religion they practiced and more about the color of their skin. They do not mind being asked questions about the culture of the Muslim community and ask that if you’re going to ask anybody about their culture to do it in a respectful manner.“

It’s not about what people ask, it’s about how people ask it.” Alam stated. They welcome a genuine conversation to understand them. 

When it comes to education, Alam had always planned to go to school. She had never thought about doing something different. 

Konate, on the other hand, said, “I never had a choice.” 

Her family always advocated for getting an education. As long as she had a plan and felt that it was the best thing for her life her father would support her in the pursuit of an education. 

Many women in Islamic cultures outside of the United States do not have the opportunity to gain an education but Islamic communities within the United States really push for education. 

Alam stated she hasn’t always been very active in the Islamic faith and has certain disagreements with it, which created some contention in her family’s home. Alam and her father eventually came to an agreement that her father wants her to “believe in something bigger than herself.” 

Having more genuine and calm Diversity Dialogue sessions helps open up dialogue to understand a religion that is often misunderstood in the United States, such as Islam. 

The Multicultural Center’s vision is to “teach and provide intentional programs and services that embrace and validate multicultural education, promote opportunities for intercultural learning, exchange, and appreciation, and cultivate an atmosphere of inclusion, diversity, equity, and social change.” 
For more information about the Multicultural Center visit this link.