Western Nebraska Observer - Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

KHS students study diversity and cultural unity


Courtesy Photo

These four Kimball High School students attended the Nebraska Cultural Unity conference in Kearney last month. They participated in break out sessions and toured the University of Nebraska - Kearney campus. Pictured from left are Crystal Pile, Raylyn Soper, Myriah Tyan and George Melo.

Four Kimball High Students attended the annual Nebraska Cultural Unity conference at the University of Nebraska Kearney on Feb. 26 along with Spanish instructor, Pat Sulu.

Multicultural Affairs at UNK has sponsored this conference for 15 years and students at Kimball High School have attended for the last four years.

This year's attendees were George Melo, Myriah Tyan, Crystal Pile and Raylyn Soper joined nearly 400 students at the event held in the Younes conference center.

While teaching her students in Spanish class, Sulu explains that everyone has culture. "Culture," Sulu said, "includes the beliefs, customs and arts of a particular group, which included their way of thinking and behaving."

Before the conference began, Sulu took her students on a tour of the UNK campus, showing them the dorms, financial aid office, library, medical office, tutoring and support areas, admissions, class buildings and student activities center.

The group met two Columbian students in the Multicultural office, who explained to the students what support, through different organizations and clubs, was offered and focused on individual cultures such as Hispanic, Asian, Arabic, women, social justice, and many others.

"Anyone can be part of any club - the idea is that we want to be part of a group that is like us, and we also want to be part of a group to learn about people who are different from us," stated Sulu, "The groups learn about each other and promote understanding of people - a huge issue in this tiny world. They become advocates for each other and raise awareness of issues that might be keeping people down, thus empowering all students in understanding."

The conference is designed by students who attend UNK, from planning to execution – overseeing every detail. While waiting for everyone to arrive, UNK students held a "jeopardy" game to quiz on information about UNK and about attending a college.

"Our students got the question about which high school classes are required to be admitted to UNK," said Sulu, "after collaborating, Raylyn Soper went to the microphone, answered correctly, and won a prize."

Three 45-minute sessions were offered at the conference, according to Sulu, the first session her students chose was a fine arts presentation, where majors in Art, music and World languages were discussed followed by a session on dating in the digital world.

"This is a huge part of culture," added Sulu. "The students made a list of important qualities in a dating partner and then discussed with the others in their group.

For the third session, some went to "The Lies My Mirror told me" which also focused on technology and how it impacts self worth.

"This is a very prominent part of our culture right now. Technology trains our brains in a negative way and we are not happy with ourselves as a result. For example: The brain chemical, dopamine is released when your body receives a reward. On Facebook, every time someone "likes" you, then your body receives a release of dopamine and you feel good. It can become an addiction to have people "like" you on Facebook," Sulu said. "Students were also cautioned about sexting and that everything is permanent and nothing is really private when it is sent to someone via any technology. Any business can see your history and decide whether or not to hire you. The message was to create healthy boundaries in a world that is all online."

This year's conference offered something new – a presentation offered in Spanish. The title was "De inmigrantes a Profesionales: Nuestra Historia or "From Immigrants to Professionals: Our History."

"It was a very fun activity!! I think the students got a lot out of it!" Sulu concluded.


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