Diverse School, Diverse Community


Enrollment by ethnicity at UPA in the 2018-19 school year. The information is provided by Executive Director Daniel Ordaz.

Isabella Bronner, Reporter

Students from various cultural backgrounds fill the hallways.

Spanish teacher Nico Mendoza has seen the benefits and consequences of cultural diversity throughout his lifetime.

“[I’m] able to understand people from all over the world,” Mendoza said. “This is what UPA has given me. There are some different cultures here that we can actually connect, and we grow together and we respect.”

Chemistry teacher Reo Sato also appreciates students of different ethnicities in his classroom.

“I think it’s important to have diversity,” Sato said. “If you have all different backgrounds, different ideas come forth.”

The ethnic diversity present in the UPA community also influences students like sophomore Julia Khinno.

“I can have more knowledge about other cultures than just my own,” Khinno said. “I can understand the world without having to go to places.”

However, there are negative aspects to diversity such as bullying. Mendoza is sensitive about this aspect because he sympathizes with people who are bullied due to their differences. He knows how it feels.

“I was actually bullied when I was in middle school and in high school,” Mendoza said. “People did not accept me for being Mexican. They would not accept me for my characteristics—physical characteristics. People did not accept me for being too skinny. People did not accept me because I didn’t ‘belong in this community.’”

Mendoza surmises the reason why people resort to bullying.  

“Bullying comes from not feeling uncomfortable with yourself, not feeling accepted,” Mendoza said. “Then it just might be a way of getting back at people.”

Sato has a glimpse on what he would do if he saw someone being bullied because of their ethnicity.

“I think I would have a chat with that person and talk about where they’re coming from,” Sato said. “There’s probably some reason they’re saying things. I want to find out why.”

Spanish teacher Aimee Verapinto explains the importance in making students aware of diversity: it prepares them for the real world.

“Schools are symbolic of what our world looks like, and therefore, diversity is a huge part of our world,” Verapinto said. “I think that schools need to have an authentic representation of what our world looks like.”