Embracing Our Differences

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Diversity at school develops over time

by Irene Yue

In the 1970s, the school demographic consisted of mostly Caucasians and Latinos. With the emergence of Latino immigrants from Mexico and El Savador in the ‘60s; Asian immigrants from the Philippines, Vietnam, and China in the late ‘70s; and black immigrants from Haiti, Jamaica, and other African countries like Nigeria in the ‘80s, the school embraced additional ethnic cultures.

According to the New York Times, an influx of Asian and African American immigrants moved to the San Gabriel Valley due to job opportunities and overpopulation in their mother country, resulting in a cultural diffusion. The socialization of diverse students influenced individuals to learn more about various Latino, Caucasian, African American, and Asian cultures.

The school has taken steps to represent these different ethnicities by providing a lunch menu that rotates weekly. Meals such as nachos, ramen, and pho help introduce students to foods that represent the student demographic.

Additionally, clubs like the Co-Exist Club, Chinese Drama Club, Multicultural Dance Club, and Association of Latin American Students assist in the promotion of different ethnicities present on campus. These clubs provide students with a space to feel united within their own cultures and help build a sense of belonging at school. Students in these organizations are also able to collaborate to create ways to showcase their culture and educate others.

Through new lunch menu items and clubs, the school continues to provide a platform for diverse student backgrounds. In the last 30 years, ethnic influence has become increasingly embraced and celebrated as students on campus are offered more outlets to share who they are and where they came from.

Springing into Lunar New Year

by Mytam Le

As senior Wendy Gip and her parents lay brightly colored flowers and food on the Buddha altar, warmth begins to build up in her heart. She knows that Lunar New Year will be arriving and soon it will be time for her to celebrate
the new year with her family once again.

The Lunar New Year is celebrated among many Asian cultures, including Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, and Tibetan. The holiday gives an opportunity for people, to have fun and enjoy family time. Every year Gip goes to at least one temple and prays with her family. In addition, she receives red envelopes with money inside, which married couples give to symbolize sharing their wealth with unmarried children in the family.

“My favorite moment with my family is eating at the dinner table because it is a time for us to talk to one another,” Gip said. “I feel happy that they are around me.”

Many families begin preparing for Lunar New Year early to make sure everything is perfect. Gip enjoys decorating and preparing for the Lunar New Year with her mom.

“It’s really fun to go find the perfect flowers with my mom at the flower district [in] Downtown L.A. and buy all types of incense to pray with,” Gip said.

Like most holidays, Lunar New Year has a lot of history and meaning behind it. Although people may celebrate the holiday differently, it is a time for all to understand their heritage more. Gip said that Lunar New Year has played an important role in shaping who she is.

“Lunar New Year made me more aware of what my culture has to offer and how it became an outlet for my whole family to come together and spend time with one another,” Gip said.

Throughout the year, Gip’s family is busy, and it is difficult for everyone to spend time together, so Lunar New Year is the perfect time for her whole family to be together.

“This holiday is important to me because I love how it brings my family together,” Gip said. “It’s a way to celebrate our culture.”

Keeping memories alive

by Mytam Le

Sophomore Joshua Prieto stands outside with his family, laughing and celebrating Día de los Muertos, also known as Day of the Dead, at the cemetery. His face is painted to resemble a skeleton, and as he looks around, he sees children laughing and running around as mariachi music plays in the background. He sees the pictures of his ancestors with bright marigolds dispersed throughout the cemetery.

Día de los Muertos is a day that Latin Americans devote to celebrate the life of deceased family members, rather than mourning their death. Latin Americans choose to celebrate the deaths of their ancestors with vibrant colors and remember all of the good they have done. The holiday is held from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2, but many families prepare for the big celebration weeks in advance.

“We dedicate that day to them and appreciate [the] life they had on Earth since we believe they should never be forgotten,” Prieto said.

Día de los Muertos allows Prieto to understand that commemorating his ancestor’s life is better than being unhappy that they have passed. He and his family go to church and pray to God and La Virgen de Guadalupe, also known as the Virgin Mary; to honor them, they light candles.

“It [brings] me joy knowing that my ancestors will never be forgotten in my family and in my culture,” Prieto said. “I feel proud to be Mexican and I am grateful for my family and culture’s food, music, [and] traditions.”

The various foods and decorations are one of the many components of the holiday. A few traditional foods include caramel flan, tamales, and pozole, a traditional Mexican soup with vegetables and meat. Prieto’s favorite food is pan de muerto, a traditional Mexican sweet bread. Along with the different foods, many colorful and unique decorations are used and handmade. Some include decorated sugar skulls and marigolds, a traditional flower mainly used during the celebration.

“As a child, I remember going to the cemetery, and there, they had face painting of skulls,” Prieto said. “[I was] also able to make paper orange flowers and decorate frames to put pictures in and sugar skulls for loved ones who passed.”

Día de los Muertos allows Prieto to be not only a stronger person, but also a person who has a greater connection with his culture and identity. “It’s a very beautiful holiday. It’s important that I keep it alive so that it can live in my culture and to make sure it doesn’t die out,” Prieto said.

Thoughts on culture at school

“[Meeting people with different cultures] is pretty important because it gives you new aspects of how everything is. You can meet people [and] try [new] things. It’s nice to see how people are.” – SOFIA IVETH BELLOSO, 9TH GRADE

“Diversity is important because you get to see people that are different than yourself. You get to see how they live and interact with other people. Honestly, I don’t think there are many ways to promote diversity, but I think multicultural get-togethers [would] work.” – BRANDON KIM, 10TH GRADE

“[The school has] a lot of ethnic cultures. I would say it’s important to implicate many cultures and people into one area, so there’s no narrowmindedness [among] anybody. I wouldn’t know many ways to promote diversity, besides just making sure that everyone is participating with each other, making friends, and just being around good people.” – ASHLEY DUONG, 11TH GRADE 

“If you don’t see the different kinds of people in your community, it’s really hard to develop [open-minded] perceptions. [You] can get really wrapped up in stereotypes that you’re expected to conform to. I think one way we can be more diverse is through our clubs because a lot of clubs are race oriented or [have a] particular race in certain clubs.” – JASON LOU GONZALEZ, 12TH GRADE 

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