Story and photos by Greg Mitchell, FLEACT, Yokosuka, Public Affairs
There is no shortness of diversity at Fleet Activities (FLEACT), Yokosuka, and one of the most prominent places to see it is at Nile C. Kinnick High School, were most service members’ and Department of Defense (DOD) civilians’ children attend.
Behind the theme, “Our Diversity is Our Strength”, students participated in activities that in the words of teachers, faculty and staff members – truly represented the students and their entire community.Students were given the opportunity to choose 6 out of the 21 different areas being offered, created by both staff and students
Events varied from the preparation and serving of Japanese sushi, onigiri and miso soup, African djembe drumming and Hakka dance, to Japanese, Chinese and African ethnic art display, Irish and British storytelling and the traditional Philippine dance of Tinikling. Each student had their own schedule based on their interests. The offerings were led by students, staff members, and members of our Yokosuka community.“We always do the month to month thing; Hispanic Heritage Month, African American History Month,
Asian American History Month, and so forth,” said Guang-Yin Swanland, Nile C. Kinnick Geometry teacher and co-coordinator of the event, along with Spanish teacher Jameelah Muhammad. “I thought it made more sense to do a multi-cultural day which challenges the students to get out of their comfort zone and learn hands on about another culture.”Diversity Day was viewed by staff members as an opportunity for students to get out of their comfort zones and work closer than before.
“Kinnick is a blended family, with all of us working together,” said Principal Emilie Lee. “While we celebrate our Kinnick accomplishments all year long, we wanted to have a special event that celebrated our Kinnick Family’s cultural heritage. Since everyone is important in our family, our desire was that our students be able to participate in a variety of activities that represented the cultures of our students. We truly believe that the diversity within our school is our strength.” For some students, the opportunity to learn something from another culture outside of their own opened their eyes to activities that they never would have thought to do before.
“This is the first time I have ever danced,” said senior Mao Leonard, coordinator for the Latin Dance program. “Because of this experience, I have decided to start taking dance lessons because this has turned out to be a lot more fun than I ever imagined.”Sharing a part of their own culture and watching people react to it created a positive vibe with the students.
“Not everyone knows your culture automatically,” said junior Dominque Taylor. “But by that person simply working alongside with someone of a different diverse background, it gives them the chance to understand something about that person that they may have assumed or just flat out did not know. So in that respect, it feels good for someone to embrace something that makes you who you are.”