Diversity Club Helps Students Adapt to New Life at School


E. Lawson/staff

Diversity Club students meet for their second time this school year

Will Stanton, Editor

  For students coming from a different county, learning a new language and adapting to a whole different culture can present an intimidating challenge. English teachers Heidi Gregory and David Richardson co-advise the Diversity Club which exists to help students, whether they are immigrants, exchange students, refugees, or people from Traverse City looking to learn more about cultures.

  “Culture shock can be overwhelming no matter what age you are. On top of trying to learn a new language and coming to a high school this big, it can be absolutely terrifying,” Gregory said. “So I think it’s essential for those students who fall into those categories to have something like that where they can make connections and friendships and feel welcome.”

  The Diversity Club doesn’t only help students adjust to life here at school, but allows people from all different backgrounds to learn more about different cultures and traditions that they might not otherwise be exposed to.

  “Every week, you can come in the morning and you can learn about other places. You can hear students talk about their experiences, and hear students talk about other languages,” Richardson said. “You can come and just meet weekly and develop friendships and be in community with people from all over the world with diverse perspectives.”

  Kateryna Nitsenko is a senior from Ukraine who has been helped by the Diversity Club.

  “It’s easier because I found people who are not from this country and who are here for five or ten weeks and we can share our problems together,” Nitsenko said. “I can tell them about how I feel and how I am and it is easier with people who are in the Diversity Club.”

  The symposiums the club has hosted in previous years helped inform students of different types of life, whether they were a part of the club or not.

  “The students who were involved in it had a place where their voices were heard where they felt empowered. And at the same time, the population here at school had a chance to listen to individual voices and hopefully increase their compassion and empathy and understanding for all different types of people, which is a great way to prepare them for the real world as well,” Gregory said.

  Richardson encourages students to join the club Thursday mornings at 7:30 a.m. in B102 to learn more about the different cultures within Traverse City.

  “You may not realize it, but Traverse City is an international city. There are people here from all over the world and they have tremendous things that we can learn about. So come and realize the diversity we have here, get to know people from all over and it’s going to enrich your life,” Richardson said.