IRVINE : A Weeklong Celebration of Diversity
Students at Irvine High School on Monday began a week of international entertainment, food and thought-provoking discussions in hopes of reducing racial tensions.
The week of events, titled “Tolerance: A Celebration of Our Diversity,” began with a morning assembly to hear students from Cal State Long Beach’s multiethnic center talk about diversity. At lunch, Irvine students performed a dragon parade common in some Asian cultures to scare away evil and bring good luck.
The events, which will run through Thursday, were organized by the high school’s Ethnic Advisory Forum. The campus club was formed several years ago to bring students from different cultural backgrounds together to foster understanding.
Racial intolerance has been an occasional problem at Irvine High School and has included fights, said club member Nick Gan, 18. But most problems have been minor, he said.
“I’ve been called names on campus before,” said Gan, who is of Chinese descent. “They’ll be in a group and they’re just trying to have fun and tease you.”
The problem with racial misunderstanding is that people tend to see a person’s race but not the person, Gan said. By providing talks and presentations this week, the club hopes to expand familiarity with different cultures among students. All of the events are optional for students.
Today, students are scheduled to hear a talk on the racial integration of professional baseball and will be invited to an open poetry reading.
On Wednesday, the Stop-Gap “drama therapy” troupe will present a play on ethnicity and prejudice that highlights human similarities, followed by a lunchtime open forum for all students.
On Thursday, UC Irvine doctoral student Menlo Martinez will talk about stereotyping, and Teatro Cometa will perform. Lunch will feature selections of international foods.
The Ethnic Advisory Forum scheduled the events as a means to educate students and staff about some of the cultures on campus, said Andrew Tran, a member of the forum and vice president of the Vietnamese Club.
“The reason why we feel there’s a need is that we all face some sort of prejudice every day,” Tran said.
When people don’t understand why people from different cultures act a certain way, he said, “they’ll see things that they’ll find humorous to them, or barbaric or strange.”
Offering education about differences, and, more importantly, similarities among cultures is the key to acceptance, Tran said.
“If people are educated about each other’s cultures and have a better understanding, then we may not have the problems that we do now,” he said.