Cultural Diversity

East high school teachers and students reflect on their cultures.

East High School teachers and students who have come from diverse cultures shared their experience and perspective about growing up in diverse cultures, facing obstacles, and outcomes.

Samichya Sharma a junior at East who have came from Nepal. She talked about what dreaming big means for her based on her personal experiences.

“Some struggles my family and I faced were learning the language, and finding stable jobs to help our family, which was very difficult especially if you were unable to speak English,”(Said Sharma).” One of the two ways to gain confidence is by interacting with other diverse people and experiencing other cultures similar to yours. Another way is by embracing your culture and befriending people in your environment. For me personally, dreaming big means to turn my goals into a reality and taking opportunities to have a brighter future,” Sharma said.

Vidal Spaine is a math teacher at East High. He is from Sierra, Leone. One of the struggles he mentioned was how when you come to America, there are a lot of things that are new and you have to learn, which can be hard.

“Initially, we had some struggles, for example adjusting to the new way of life, like learning how to drive, adjusting to the food, and in Iowa adjusting to the cold weather. Dream big means setting a SMART goal and use raw determination to go and achieve that goal. S=specific; M=Measurable, be realistic in setting your goal, A= achievable, make sure your goal is something that you can do and accomplish, Relevant=your goal should be of relevance to you, T=Time Based, make sure it is something that you can achieve at a given time. My culture taught me the basic values of human decency which I carry with me, everywhere I go. You are going to need that to be successful in America,” Spaine said.

Nancy, Nicho is a math teacher who have been teaching math for several years. She Is from Lima, Peru. Her struggle wasn’t that easy because she had to work when she was back at her country and even when she came to America she have to keep working. She feels very strongly about her culture, and she is not going to let people think negative about her country.

“In my country, we are mix of different races. We are not pure race. My family was highly poverty. I study at the same time and work eight hours. People who come here are looking for better opportunity that we do not have in our own countries. When I came here it was the same because when you come here you have to start a new life, you have to have a job, find a place to live. Plus, your away from your family, people that you love. You feel like you don’t belong here. When your parents see how proud, they are from you. You have to behave at that level. That your loved one are expected from you because no matter what they are going to be there.   It is painful when people look you down because you have another color. You have another accent.

Anup Thapa is a senior who comes from a diverse family. He shared his own personal, how his parents struggled with him, and talked about his country.

I am from Nepal. Nepal is kind of cruel world sometimes. My Parents had always struggled with me because I was constantly going somewhere, and I almost died many times.  One day I was messing with the cow and the cow started chasing me. Another incident was when I was like 5 years old. I wanted to swim, I almost drowned to then my grandma come to save me. The three interesting thing about my country is people worked together to discipline, People are hardworking no matter how poor Nepali people are they are happy with their life, it was never ruled by another countries, teachers and parents worked their kids/students,” Said Thapa.

Lexi, Boriboun is a senior, she is 17 years old, born in Pella, Iowa. Her mom is from Cambodia and her dad is from Laos. When her parents were back at their country it was hard for them to talk about some of those suffocating moment with Lexi because it was quit traumatizing.

When I was born, my parents kept moving because they couldn’t keep a stable job because they are always traveling. My mom was a sponsor during Khmer Rouge genocide. That’s why she originally immigrates here to America to escape genocide. My dad came to seek asylum.

Jen Henniges-Shaw use to teach ELL students, who had hard time reading, writing, and speaking in English, she has experience students who have come from different cultural. Henniges Shaw  is teaching Spanish 1 this year.

“I think that it’s hard for some people because they feel that their culture isn’t accepted by the dominant group. For example, at our school, we have a lot of Asian American students with beautiful names. Teachers mispronounce the students’ names (not on purpose, but because they’re not sure how to pronounce them) and the students don’t correct the teacher. They settle for having their names mispronounced. I have a rather large perspective on cultural diversity. I went to school to study how to be an effective teacher to people from all around the world. I have had the opportunity to work with students and families from all around the world. I’ve gadded the privilege to able to see the many different cultural beliefs and cultural activities that exist in our East High community. If there were one thing that I could change here at East, it would be for us to have a cultural club. A club where the different cultures that exist here at East could be celebrated. That we could teach each other about our beliefs and that we could all come in with an open mind that yes, there are differences, but that there are also a lot of similarities between cultural groups. Rather than focusing on how we’re different, why not focus on how we’re the same?” Said Henniges.

Geoff Farrell multicategory social studies teacher shared his perspective about how it can be challenging to adjust living in United state when you came from diverse family.

“I Believe it can be very challenging for people to adopt to new cultures outside what they have always known, especially when those cultures are dramatically different from their own. In my opinion, the most successful places are ones in which people are the most welcoming of all different types of cultures and peoples.  No other country on Earth has the overall cultural diversity as the United States.  But that doesn’t simply mean that we have done everything correctly in the past – there will always continue to be room for improvement,” Farrell Said.