The halls of this school are filled with people of different backgrounds and ethnicities ranging from teachers to students. The majority being Americans and Hispanics with minorities such as Asians, Haitians, and Africans.
Many students, teachers or their families have journeyed to America from their home countries for opportunities to better their living circumstances.
“I was born in Texas, however, my family moved from Mexico to the U.S. for a better life,” senior Saira Torres said.
America provides an abundance of resources for immigrants and refugees.
“I am thankful that America provides so much resources to its people,” Special Education Inclusion Aide Karen Rivas Valtierra said. “[It also provides] The ability to climb up from your position, to go to school, to speak out without retaliation (media and press), the chance to grow a family in a safe environment, and the opportunity to seek out dreams and goals.”
However, even those resources can be limited when it comes to people of color.
“In the United States there are a lot of Hispanic people, so one benefit to being Hispanic and actually being bilingual is being able to communicate easily with those around you in both English and Spanish,” Valtierra said. “However, there are not many privileges in being a person of color in the U.S. besides being able to carry your rich culture on over.”
Although people come to the United States with an optimistic view, many faced discrimination due to their inability to speak English.
“My mom came from Laos, and she went to California,” senior Hunter Keosyhavong said. “She got a lot of discrimination [and was called] a lot of racist names like ‘you gook’ and ‘yellow fever’ and all that.”
Aside from discrimination, many ethnicities and races are stereotyped.
“And of course, they asked if I eat dogs and cats and I don’t.” Keosyhavong said. “It’s a stereotype, but I don’t [eat cats and dogs].”
Keosyhavong said he was asked peculiar questions, and his nationality was even mistaken.
“They thought I was Mexican at first,” Keosyhavong said. “Then they thought I was Burmese. And I was like, ‘I’m not Burmese’.”
When Keosyhavong told people his family came from Laos, the people had to clue where the place was. Keosyhavong also said that they mistook the country for China.
“I think in this school, geography is not very serious,” Keosyhavong said. “They don’t [know] where all the countries are or their differences. Some people just assume Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, [and] Burmese [be]cause we have them here. We don’t have any Vietnamese, Cambodian, [or] Singaporean. They don’t know the difference.”
Like Keosyhavong, Torres also faced stereotypes due to the country she came from.
“Since I am Hispanic, people automatically assume I came from Mexico illegally,” Torres said. “That upsets me since it seems to be a stereotypical thing to say. During the Trump vs. Clinton election race, I heard things about the people in my culture and it breaks my heart.”
Despite the hardships they faced, the students said that diversity provides an opportunity to learn about different ethnicities.
“It allows us students to be surrounded by people from interesting cultures or backgrounds,” Torres said.
Dr. Steven Vertovec said in his article “Diversity, social interaction and solidarity” that “Increased diversity will have an impact on social interactions and the integration of societies”. This means that diversity affects the way people act in their daily lives and who they interact with.
“ I do think diversity plays a role in how we act,” Torres said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad. I think of that now. I grew up being told that despite the color of your skin or where you are from, you are human. We should be able to be treated all equally because we all deserve to have that kind of equality.”