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January 25, 2022

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Celebrating diversity is key to a better world

Imagine a situation where you are asked to interact with someone from a different country other than your own. Would you be comfortable or awkward around them?

While most people would probably say they are comfortable with foreigners, but before I joined Dulwich, I hesitated in talking to them. Of course, I was very curious and eager to meet them, but my awkwardness always made it difficult for me to connect and get to know them.

This is because before joining the college I didn’t have exposure to different cultures. Everything was new to me and I did not know how to find common ground with foreigners.

International schools, multinational companies, or any place that has a range of people from different backgrounds tend to be more diverse, and people tend to be more open-minded to differences in cultures and traditions, languages, festivals and everything else that makes a country different from one another.

Students must learn to be comfortable with differences from a young age, and that is why I think it is important for us to celebrate global traditions in our school.

Being open-minded about all the fantastic diversity is one of the key aspects of being a global citizen. Being open-minded means being comfortable and competent with communication with people from around the world. I believe one crucial aim of being in an international school should be to learn about different cultures and traditions, interact with different people, learn about them and celebrate diversity.

School community

At Dulwich College Shanghai Puxi, we celebrate diversity in a lot of ways. We have college assemblies on the dates of different national festivals, and we celebrate them with student performances, sometimes food, during lessons and, most importantly, as a school community.

For example, as we are a school that follows the British curriculum but is in China, therefore, celebrating key Chinese and British festivals is key.

We try our best to be diverse, we celebrate many other festivals such as Halloween (DUCKS Fun Run), Diwali, Eid, Remembrance Day, Canadian Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chinese New Year and Mid-Autumn Festival to name a few.

During my interview for the post of head student, I was asked, “If there was something you could change, what would it be and why?” I told the panel that I think we should try and aim to be more diverse.

Students in senior school learn Spanish as a compulsory language up to Year 9. I thought it would be a good idea to implement some culture into our community that will help us make Spanish language learning more real. One of the most celebrated festivals in Hispanic countries is called Día de los Muertos that translates to The Day of the Dead.

Día de los Muertos is a festival that originated in Mexico, where people remember their ancestors. They place offerings on their graves and celebrate a range of traditions centered around remembering their loved ones. It is a festival full of singing and dancing and celebrating the dead rather than mourning them. They celebrate by decorating the altars, and by placing Ofrendas on their graves. Decorations called Calaveras are also made in the shape of a skull with a smiling face to depict mocking death. During the Day of the Dead celebration season, you can see marigolds everywhere. Marigolds are thought to be flowers that guide the dead from their world to the living. They symbolize the beauty and delicateness of the living.

Following my suggestion, this is the first year we have added Día de los Muertos to our calendar of national celebrations. We had a day of dances and celebrations to pay homage to this important Mexican tradition.

For the Chinese New Year, we will have traditional dragon and lion dances. The college will be adorned with Chinese New Year decorations, and students will engage in a range of Chinese New Year activities. One big activity is our annual Senior School Chinese New Year Vlog competition. We have seen some impressive creations from fellow students, who documented their experiences around China and Chinese traditions.

In conclusion, being open-minded and celebrating diversity is important because it helps us understand the world much better.

(Vaishnavi Shyam is Year 10 student at Dulwich College Shanghai Puxi.)


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