Nottingham Students Celebrate Diversity at ‘We Are Syracuse’ Event
Published on 4/1/19
District News Nottingham High School
Refugee students at Nottingham came together to share their stories at the school’s annual We Are Syracuse event, a gallery-style event dedicated to celebrating different cultures and promoting understanding and appreciation. Students from Nepal, Thailand, Cuba, Yemen and more told of their experiences through written and spoken narratives, small-group PowerPoint presentations, and conversation over artwork.
Students sat at tables and spoke with attendees about religious traditions, cultural traditions like knitting shirts, family stories of parents surviving civil war, schooling, language, food and personal tales of how they came to be in the United States.
Senior Safa Hussein is from Yemen and is in the Seal of Biliteracy program. She came to America as a three-year-old and next year will be attending Binghamton University, where she plans to study English and Arabic, with plans to become a translator one day. She sees We Are Syracuse as a way to help expand peoples’ minds when it comes to other cultures.
“It’s incredible talking to people about Ramadan and being a Muslim,” she said. “People were surprised that they don’t know as much as they thought they do! America is so diverse, but you don’t see a lot about Islam in the textbooks… you don’t see the good side. I want to share that.”
Mu Lah Hser was born in Burma and moved to Thailand when she was young. She enjoys the We Are Syracuse event because it has helped make her feel comfortable with her own history.
“When I was young, I had a hard time talking about my origin,” she said. “But since I’ve been in high school, I feel like I’ve found myself and it’s easier to connect with people. I want to share my story, because I know a lot of people can learn from it. People are often shocked at how much we’ve been through, but we came to the United States because there are a lot of opportunities.”
Diamond Weah was born in a refugee camp in Liberia and came to the United States in 2004. He said the We Are Syracuse event helps people gain a fresh perspective about life in the United States.
“I want to educate those who are unaware of my culture,” he said. “People are surprised to hear that my parents survived a war… they don’t expect it. But that inspires me. Sometimes here, people aren’t grateful. They think that a bad grade or not talking to their friend is the worst thing. But imagine being a 7-year old soldier, like some are in Liberia. Hearing these stories helps these people appreciate their position more.”
Thank you to ENL teacher Lauren Cirulli for her efforts organizing the We Are Syracuse event. What a great way to celebrate #SCSDDiversity!