Zia Hassan

Voting In A School

+++ title = “11” date = 2018 +++

I voted this morning.

Like many people, my polling place was at a local school. And in our case, it’s the one that our son might attend in a few years as a kindergartener.

As my wife and I walked in, we looked above our heads and noticed that students had been allowed to paint the tiles of the building as different flags of the world. It was an immediately moving experience; it felt inclusive and flew in the face of so much AmericaFirst rhetoric.

Not only that, when I visit a school and see student-made decorations on the walls, I silently thank whomever is in charge (and verbally too, if I know who they are). But on the ceiling, and on tiles? That’s a whole new level of student centered community. Many principals would call that defacing school property, but this artwork was the community’s statement: this school, right down to the ceiling tiles, belongs to all of us, and all of us, wherever we’re from, belong here.

It was the perfect place to fill out a ballot and vote for leadership. In a place where voices are heard, and voices matter.

And I should know. I was a teacher at a school where student and teacher voice was very limited. I saw the effects that this had on the small universe that existed within the walls of the school. I saw it tear apart relationships and how it turned well-meaning adults into the type of people that they’d rather not be.

Our country feels a bit like that school right now. But our voices can and will be heard.

The ceiling tiles of this country belong to us. And today is painting day.