Atul is a high school exchange student from Malaysia who is now living in Arcata, California. She says she soon realized a unique challenge with living in the California town — she couldn’t find a prayer room for her daily prayers (observant Muslims are required to pray five times a day). “In my country, [prayer rooms] are everywhere, as [Malaysia] is a majority Muslim country,” says the exchange student.
But here’s the good news. Businesses and schools in town soon rallied around the 18 year old by offering their facilities to use as prayer rooms. For example, a local bookstore offered two spare rooms to use for prayer.
Atul says that the support and hospitality have reaffirmed her faith in humanity. “I was scared at first because I was still wondering ‘What is it like to be a Muslim in America?’ But with my community support, I know that even if we have many differences such as in religion and faith, we still can be connected as human beings.”