NadiaOne day during Grade 5 Social Studies we were asked to create a collage of what we anticipated our lives would look like in 20 years.  We were to include our dream homes, dream cars, and an image of ourselves using cut-outs from magazines.  While every other girl in my class chose images of Claudia Schiffer and Cindy Crawford as their 'future selves', I couldn't find a single female figure who represented my skin tone from the magazines the teacher provided.  Reluctantly, I brought this to the attention of the teacher who seemed annoyed and, with exasperation, told me to "just choose someone who's black".   I'll never forget that moment of complete shock and embarrassment.  To this day, as a fellow teacher, I share this story with my students and talk about how I will always remember how she made me feel: unimportant and undervalued.  I promised them I would do my best to never make them feel that way and to honour each students' differences and make each person feel special, because I always felt 'special' for what felt like the wrong reasons, for example being the one who didn't order pizza because it had pepperoni on it or the one who couldn't eat lunch because I was fasting or the one who didn't have a 'what I got for Christmas' story.   I love that now, 20 something years later, the kids in class share about their heritage with such confidence.

Nadia Ali


  • Jenatte

    Great story. Very valuable lessons.

  • Zaheen

    What a great story, with valuable lessons to be learned! Nadia, I’m glad you didn’t find a ‘model’ in that magazine. It probably helped you break out of the stereotypical and perhaps even superficial roles that other children were encouraged to project for themselves and their futures! Other than trying to be a good parent, I can’t think of a better role model for young children than being a great teacher as children spend so much time at school. Every child that passes through your class is truly blessed to have such an understanding, inspiring and fun teacher as yourself!

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