Having been a student in the Miami Beach public school system for most of my academic years, I have been taught that diversity is essential. It has been drilled into my brain that we all must be accepting of other peoples and cultures in order to be right and just human beings. I know that each culture brings something intrinsically valuable to any community. I understand that a homogeneous society is not only impractical, but undesirable. While all of these considerations are important, to me diversity means so much more.
As a young person, I value multiculturalism because diversity breeds acceptance. When kids grow up surrounded by only one culture (their own), it becomes difficult for them to become open-minded individuals. On the other hand, those who are fortunate enough to experience a variety of cultures have a greater chance of learning to accept all differences, from racial or ethnic disparities to different senses of humor, political outlooks, heights, weights, ages, aptitudes, interests, abilities, disabilities and so on.
At Miami Beach Senior High, diversity is embraced. Not only through Brazilian festivals or Hispanic heritage shows, but through the unique manner by which we go about our lives.
“Beach High is a multicultural melting pot where you can walk down the hall and hear English, Spanish, Chinese and Creole all in one pass,” said senior Joseph Coto.
Beach High students are humbled, not threatened by other cultures. We become friends with kids that were born thousands of miles away, and we learn from them.
Beach High offers courses in Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and French, allowing for a cultured and learned student body. Many students become proficient in more than one language during their time at Beach; some bilingual students end up leaving Beach High fluent in three or more languages.
Students identify with the cultures attached to the languages that they learn in class through first-hand contact, not merely theoretical learning. Furthermore, students are often “forced” to test their understanding of languages through interaction with peers, the media and our community. This in turn enhances the relationship that students develop not only with the language itself, but with their Spanish or Portuguese speaking friends.
A synergistic interaction is one that amounts to a sum greater than the individual value of each party. In Miami Beach and at Beach High, the merging together of Haitians, Hispanics, African Americans, Caucasians, and countless others can be considered one such interaction, and together we are stronger for it.