It’s remarkable what an open mind, a few pins, and a simple piece of cloth can do.
Reactions to my headscarf generally ranged from nothing at all, to polite (if slightly bemused) curiosity, to tremendous appreciation. I enjoyed the random smiles and assalaamu aleikums I got from the Muslims I saw on the street, which I enthusiastically returned with wa aleikum assalaams (thank you, Arabic class). I was extremely moved by the gratitude expressed to me by many of my Muslim friends, who were heartened by this bold display of support by a non-Muslim—an uncommon thing in this day and place. And I very nearly laughed out loud at the very visible confusion of the 7/11 clerk as he tried to make sense of the corn-fed, blue-eyed, collegiate hijabi he was selling Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to.