The United States today is becoming more diverse than it ever has been before. According to the US Census Bureau, all minority populations in the country have grown 4.7% since the year 2000. Lincoln itself is becoming more diverse, while Providence County is one of the most diverse counties in the country. To celebrate our growing diversity and to help understand different members of our community better, Lincoln High School had its first-ever Diversity Week this year.
“I was interested in the topic of diversity myself even before I started this project,” said Mahum Shah. Shah is the architect of Diversity Week, having started it as her Exhibition project alongside mentor Mrs. Lane. “I grew up in a diverse family- my parents immigrated to the United States from Pakistan, and they dealt with a lot of differences within their own community.”
Shah also explained one thing that makes her unique- she is one of only a few students at LHS that wears a hijab- a traditional Muslim head covering. “I started wearing the hijab to represent myself and my religion,” Shah told me. “Over the years, it has become a part of my identity and I am very proud to wear it.”
Although LHS had never had one before, many other schools have had a similar Diversity Week in the past. This helped Shah and Mrs. Lane as they tried to come up with activities for the different days. “After the research we did,” Mrs. Lane explained, “we brainstormed which activities would fit best for LHS.”
Diversity Week started off on Tuesday, November 27, with an advisory activity. The activity, called Step Over The Line, was intended to ask students and faculty some tough questions involving their identity. The premise was reasonably simple- students would be given a statement by their advisor, and if they believed that statement was accurate in regards to them, they would take a step forward. Statements included “I have a friend who is LGBTQ+” and “I have ever felt inferior to someone else because of my gender.” Overall, the first day of Diversity Week was a resounding success, as Shah noted that more advisories participated in the activity than she had anticipated.
The second day also started off with an advisory activity- a Kahoot about diversity. Many students, including Mia Santos, pointed the Kahoot out as the highlight of their week. “I enjoyed Diversity Week,” Santos said, “and I really learned a lot from the Kahoot.”
The Kahoot wasn’t the only second day activity. Mrs. Lane also offered an activity after school- she would be playing the movie Wonder in her room. Students attending would receive extra credit in their English or Social Studies classes.
Wonder is a fictional movie about August Pullman, a ten-year-old boy living in Manhattan with a rare facial deformity. The movie follows his journey as he enrolls in Beecher Preparatory School. Along the way, he is bullied for his deformity by many of his classmates. Eventually, however, his classmates learn to like him, defend him, and appreciate him even with his deformity.
“The movie itself celebrates diversity,” Shah explained. “It presents a message that you should just be proud of who you are and to embrace your differences instead of trying to hide them.”The movie ended up having a very big turnout, and was considered by Mahum and Mrs. Lane a big success.
The week ended with a survey on Mr. Mac’s Google Classroom. The survey simply asked what many students thought of the week and the week’s activities. The responses were overwhelmingly positive.
Many LHS students and teachers embraced the message of Diversity Week wholeheartedly, with many even calling for it to continue in future years. Junior Anna Gillen stated “Diversity Week was a great way to spread awareness and it should take place every year.” Jheidy Rios said something similar, saying that it should be done every year “to further educate kids about the topic.” Mrs. Miguel added “The topic of diversity is something that should be discussed more throughout high school.”
In regards to the Exhibition project, Mrs. Lane stated “Mahum was a pleasure to work with because of her organization and she managed her time extremely well. She brought together all of the available resources that she had, she had a clear direction, and she solved problems along the way.” Indeed, Diversity Week is certainly shaping up to be one of LHS’s most memorable Exhibition projects.
“I expected LHS to receive the week with enthusiasm and a kind of awe, since the topic of diversity really isn’t talked about around our school,” Mahum said. The week, however, proved to be a bigger success than even that. More advisories participated in the activities she gave them than she expected. Additionally, the feedback Mahum got from the week was nothing but positive. “The week,” Mahum said, “definitely exceeded expectations.”
This was published in December and was used in Mahum’s exhibition project. The link to the video that I made for Diversity Week starring myself and Mahum can be found in the Videos tab at the top of the page.