10th Grade - School of the Arts High School (Age: 15)
Topic: "Building Leadership: Embracing Cultural Values and Inclusion"
Building leadership, embracing cultural values and including everyone with different ethnic and diversities in my life, is very important to me. I work very hard to include all different types of people in my life- both in and out of school.
I am happy to know that San Francisco is one of the most diverse cities in the USA. I love the different neighborhoods and the different ethnic backgrounds that they represent. My family and I love to celebrate the diversity of the city by attending the various parades throughout the year in different neighborhoods throughout the city. For example, we love catching salami sandwiches and sourdough bread thrown from floats in the Columbus Day Parade and visiting North Beach; we love watching the Irish gig dancers and listening to the bagpipes in the St. Patrick’s Day parade and each year my mom and I attend the Chinese Lion Dancers Show at our local library when it is Chinese New Year. We love catching Chinese good luck candy and letting the lettuce hit us to bring us good luck! All of us enjoy an afternoon in the Mission District at Carnival when the spirit, sounds and smells of the neighborhood brings a sense of Hispanic culture to our souls!!
I have built leadership skills and embraced cultural values by being my school’s Freshman Class Treasurer and this past year as a sophomore, I was the PTSA Student Representative. Being a member of the student council, I helped organize bake sales, dances and booths at school festivals while working hand in hand with kids of all nationalities. I was happy to embrace their diversity and their ideas. I have volunteered at the California Academy of Sciences every Saturday morning for the past year where I helped organize and choreograph “flash mobs” and nature –based collection “fashion shows” with teens from around the city that have various backgrounds and cultures. All of us helped design and implement “games” on the Academy floor for the general public. It was great fun working with all the diverse kids in the group and enjoying all the visitors from around the world at the Academy. One Saturday, I spoke with a family from France about earthquake preparedness and I loved the experience of meeting and talking with this family from France!
At my school- the School of The Arts High School, I have a lot of friends who represent different cultures. For example, my friends Katelyn and Serena are Chinese. They share their culture by bringing Chinese food- like noodles, fried rice and dumplings, for lunch. They are quick to offer me some and I always enjoy the different tastes and variety of food. They shared their stories about how they celebrated Chinese New Year. The stories of their families celebrations were fun to listen to! Katelyn has traveled to Malaysia where her family originated. Both she and Serena speak Mandarin. Another one of my friends, Kiana, is half Japanese and half African-American. Most people assume that she is all African-American but when you get to know her you see the Japanese part in her! She has sushi for dinner and speaks Japanese! She has studied Japanese in Japan and she speaks several dialects of Japanese. My friend Sydney, is an interesting mix of four different cultures: Dutch, Danish, French and Filipino. One can notice the Dutch and Filipino influences in her. Another friend of mine- Jeska, also speaks Dutch! I enjoy having friends and teachers with different cultures, backgrounds and nationalities. My chemistry teacher, Ms. Lipkina, for example, is from Russia. Sometimes in class she is hard to understand! She speaks Russian on occasion and I have heard her converse in Russian with some of her students. She told us that when she was growing up in Russia her most difficult class was English! As for me- I am Irish and Italian. I am always bringing leftover pasta dishes to school. I have been studying Italian for 2 years now and have included some words like “Fermi” and “Grazie” in my everyday language! My Italian teacher Ms. Folco, wears clothes made in Italy by Italian designers and enjoys teaching us Italian through cooking Italian food. I have made bruschetta, pizza and pasta in class!
Through leadership in my Girl Scout troop, of which I have been a member for over 9 years, I have learned to embrace all types of girls ranging from age 6-17, several of whom have emotional, physical and visual disabilities, to those that just need a friend for a few minutes! My friend Eva, is from Russia and she speaks Russian and English- with a Russian accent. Sometimes I have a hard time understanding her but I always manage. My friend Sarah, is visually impaired so I am happy to help her with the activities at our meetings. One of the scouts- Elaine, is in a wheelchair so all of us help her at every meeting. I have enjoyed being a part of the many activities the girls in my troop do together such as singing for the Veterans on Veterans Day, sorting food at the food bank to help the needy, making stockings full of hygiene products for the homeless and shopping for the kids in Foster Care around Christmas time. All of us sell as many cookies as we can to raise money for the troop and I have sincerely enjoyed being both a leader and mentor for the girls in my troop for the past several years. We are all in the troop together, respect each other’s differences, embrace each other’s diversity and are always friendly to one another throughout the year.
I feel it is important to have many people in my life that represent many cultures, diversities and backgrounds. I cherish the many opportunities that I have to do this and value each and every one of them. Living, going to school and volunteering in San Francisco, offers me wonderful opportunities to embrace these different cultures, include everyone in my life and truly appreciate them all.
Essay written by Doreen Pacini