Diversity At SLHS- Exploring The Lives of ESL Students
Creating a serene and accepting place for all cultures starts in the classroom. Acceptance doesn’t materialize without exposure to and education about people who are different from yourself. It is imperative that our school community exemplifies diversity, and more importantly acceptance. Celebrating a wide variety of cultures and implementing diversity in education is more than just acknowledging students’ different backgrounds; it’s also giving students the experiences necessary to understand that, although everyone is fundamentally unique, everyone deserves to be treated with the same respect.
One of the starkest barriers to acceptance is language because it makes communication so difficult. Standley Lake has an ESL program meant to integrate students into our community and provide a secure environment where they can comfortably express their own culture and individualism while also learning English. Hoang Tran ’22, who goes by Lan, attends this class. Lan has lived in Colorado for around 2 years, and her first language is Vietnamese.
Cultural differences have influence over a person’s values, hopes, beliefs, and views. These differences are beautiful, but it can also be intimidating to fully open yourself and all your differences up to an unfamiliar community. Students have a desire to express their own cultures freely but they still face obstacles.
“I feel like I’m shy too because you feel like you’re different you know? Sometimes I do something like I eat a food differently and I talk differently, and then I feel differently and it’s really hard to be yourself sometimes… I don’t want to show up to people that I’m Vietnamese… [b]ut sometimes I really want to,” Tran Said.
This barrier can be extremely difficult to overcome. Hence, it is vital that as a community, we help make our peers feel that they don’t have to be enclosed, and rather promote acceptance. Not only does this have massive individual benefits, it provides depth and compassion to the SLHS community.
Another student, Maliha Sherif ‘22, has been attending Standley Lake since moving here from Bangladesh in 2018. She is also part of the ESL program and has faced similar issues regarding integration and acceptance.
Sherif describes how difficult it was to transfer from a small and closed-off school to a big and open school. From not understanding what other people are saying to struggling to make friends in the completely new environment, it’s not an easy adjustment. Because of the difficulty of learning and speaking a new language, Sherif describes how, for the first few weeks of coming to a new school, she had trouble finding her way around classes and having conversations with new people.
“When I came to this school, it’s like I don’t know even anyone in here. It was like I just watching,” Sharif said.
People all around us differ from one another and in order to create an environment where everyone can embrace themselves, fostering acceptance is critical. Diversity at SLHS is growing, and everyone could stand to be just a little kinder and more understanding of the barriers faced by those who are different. Our differences are beautiful and they only make our community better.