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South Salt Lake Journal

Привет, Fefe hake, Hola, Bonjour — Colts greet each other during diversity week

Apr 13, 2021 02:06PM ● By Julie Slama

During their lunchtime, Cottonwood students push in a pin marking countries where they came from or where their families originated. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

At Cottonwood High, more than 40 languages can be heard amongst students in the hallways, according to the Colts’ student body president.

“We have so many cultures, so many different backgrounds, we want to celebrate those,” student leader Faith Godina said.

She said that as a student pushed his pin in a world map to show he identified with the Republic of Congo. Already students had marked countries they came from or where their families originated—from India to Mexico.

According to U.S. News & World Report, Cottonwood High, with about 1,750 students, is one of the most diverse schools in Utah, with 51% of the student body identified as minorities. Of that percentage, Hispanic, Black and Asian comprise 44%.

Indicating countries on the map was one of several activities lined up for students to participate in during the school’s first diversity week celebration. Flags were hung in the commons celebrating those countries as well.

The four-day school week was set up with each day celebrating the Colts’ diversity: language, music, talent and food.

“It looks a little different than we wanted with COVID-19, but we’re getting good participation with the first year,” she said.

For example, students submitted recipes for a school cookbook rather than make ethnic food samples for their classmates to taste. 

Godina had planned to submit an Italian cookie recipe she makes with her grandmother.

The cookbook was then to be posted and distributed to classmates so they could try their hand at international cooking.

Students also submitted restaurant recommendations for cooking from their homeland.

“We wanted this to be the most authentic it could be, not what we perceived to be authentic,” she said. “We want this week to be genuine.”

Student body officers also posed questions to the student body about culture and traditions and a contest to identify a flag that represented a part of Cottonwood’s population. Winners could sample a piece of candy from another country.

Students also could submit a talent video or a piece of art representing a part of Cottonwood’s diverse culture to share.

“The week got more people talking and groups uniting in activities,” Godina said. 

Then, students began walking to their next class as international music played—songs that students submitted representing their language and culture. Many students walked past posters greeting them in a variety of languages.

“It has been neat to see how students have been able to show their culture and share it with the school,” she said. “It will be cool to see it evolve in the years to come.”