Alexondra Purnomo, a first grade teacher in Rome, has taken it upon herself to enlighten her students about racial differences. She posted the moving story on Facebook in a heartfelt post.
A new student, who is only identified as Sasha, began getting picked on and teased by her classmates for her natural hair that she wore in braids. Being the only black in a class full of white students, Sasha stood out due to her curly hair and darker skin. She then began wearing a hat to school, to prevent her classmates from making fun of her short hair.
But Purnomo wasn’t going to stand for a child being discriminated and bullied just because other students has little exposure to differences. She and another teacher paired up to teach the class a lesson that whether "short, tall, light-skinned, dark-skinned, blond, brunette, with or without glasses, boy, girl, braid, bun, sneakers, shoes,” people are beautiful and special in their very own way.
Following the day of the lesson, Sasha felt confident enough and took her hat off, revealing a small bun tied on top of her head. The teachers, who were determined on instilling the meaningful message in the kids, then wore the same hairstyle and called it the “Sasha bun.”
"Then one by one, all of the girls (and boys!) wanted their hair in a ‘Sasha bun,’” Purnomo wrote in the post. "We were able to come together as a class and bring a smile to Sasha's face after a long, tough week. It gave me chills to see 19 kids come together to help one fellow student."
Sasha came back the next day wearing her hat, but was encouraged to remove it by a friend, who said "Ma Sasha, sei bella," ("But Sasha, you're beautiful!"). To show support for their classmate, some of the students even tied their hair into Sasha buns the next day.
At a time when hatred — and complacence to it — is all too common, the world needs more people like Purnomo who promote the idea of loving people regardless of their differences. Children need to be taught from a young age that they are special in their own way, and must be loved and respected.