Cultural Sustainability at a High School Campus: Building a Unified Multicultural Community
"You all look alike" - a normal ethnic slur in our hallways. Stereotypes exist for almost every ethnic group. These generalizations mixed with racial slurs can be offensive and derogatory. So what does a teacher do when teenagers poke fun at ethnic groups on a high school campus?
Currently in California there are a large number of different ethnic populations in the schools. In order to address the challenge of cultural literacy and sustainability at school, I have introduced an Ethnic Studies course now running in its third year. This program is developed out of a need to increase the appreciation of diversity on a high school campus. The aim of this presentation is to share the process of introducing the program to the administrators and the product of curriculum development and student experience.
I established this course to help students focus on and become aware of other cultures, doing so through nontraditional methods. We explore topics such as stereotypes, assimilation, culture of power, biases, and labels that students might come in contact with on campus and society at large. Simply put, understanding the concept of culture facilitates living with others of different backgrounds-within the classroom, in the local community, and on the worldwide scale of political, social, and economic interaction.
Keywords: High school, Multicultural, Ethnic slur, Cultural diversity, Perspectives, Student awareness
Ms. Risha Krishna
High School Teacher, Social Studies Department, Mission San Jose High School
One of my most recent achievements was obtaining a Fulbright Scholarship, which provided me with a five-week trip to South Africa. I had the opportunity to learn about the disparity of economic and social status between the Afrikans and the whites, as well as the lasting effects of apartheid. I also visited places such as Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years.
I am currently working on publishing a fiction novel on the theme of biculturalism. It explores the main character's conflict with assimilation in American society. The novel is 60% done.
In the last three years, I have received numerous awards for dedicated and innovative teaching practices. I received the Prudential Education Foundation Award for Outstanding Teacher. I also received numerous grants - $1000 Garden Grant, $500 Art Grant, and $350 PAR Grant - all to benefit the multicultural studies course.