During your stay at Ohio University, the Islamic holy month of Ramadan will be ongoing. Many members of your Fulbright group will be from Muslim countries. The following thoughts were written by John Bagnole, a former Fulbright Orientation Director, and are meant to be a guide to all of you as you prepare for your orientation.
While the Program here cannot recreate an Islamic environment, nor is that our goal, we will attempt to make reasonable accommodations when possible. There is an Islamic Center on campus, and we will be contacting them for summer information. Mealtimes will require adjustments on your part. Americans generally eat their evening meal very early; in fact Nelson Hall dining hours during the summer are as follows:
Obviously this is not convenient for Ramadan fasters, but boxed meals can be “carried out” in many cases and stored in the small fridge in your dorm room. (Most rooms are equipped with a small fridge and a microwave oven.)
Non-Muslim grantees should respect the fact that some of their colleagues may be fasting, and, to the extent possible, they should avoid eating or drinking in front of them. This will not always be possible, and Muslim participants should be prepared for that eventuality. Even if other Fulbrighters are mindful, scheduled activities will not often foster eating out-of-sight. Students on other programs or regular university students will simply be carrying on their business as usual. Americans will be eating everywhere, even on the street. This should all be viewed by any Fulbright Ramadan fasters as part of their introduction to the American way of life, and they should not be offended.
Related to this is the fact that some Muslims in the group may choose NOT to fast. This is their business, and no one should be pressured into doing anything he/she doesn’t want to do. Individuals make their own compromises in all areas of life. The United States prides itself on its reputation for religious freedom, and the Fulbrighters may exercise that freedom as well.
While fasters, like everyone else, may need to take an occasional break from the hectic pace of the program, including, please be mindful of your obligations to your program and your sponsor.