Healdsburg High Students and Teachers Grapple with Mental Health Amid the Pandemic

Charles Sommer

March 18, 2021

The formation of a new club at Healdsburg High school is always a cause for celebration, but the formation of the Ethnic Studies club has so much hype surrounding it, that it is cause for a front-page article in the school newspaper. The Ethnic Studies Club was founded by Viviana Gutierrez, Moana Cook, and Carmen Vega whom all experienced different forms of racism growing up with Viviana stating that “I saw lots of people of my ethnicity experience racism and hate crimes.”

However, instead of giving in to the prejudice, all three used these experiences to help find their identities and become more in touch with themselves and their cultures. After these strong personal confrontations with racism, Viviana declared “This sparked my passion for ethnic studies. And I believe that there are so many cool and unique things about everybody's cultures, race, and ethnicities.” Additionally, Moana Cook expressed her inspiration as  “I wanted to form the club because I feel like our education system has failed POC and people of non-European/American descent.” 

Founder Carmen Vega voiced her inspiration as “ I wanted to start this club in order to educate people and also myself of other cultures, races, and ethnicities who face problems such as discrimination and even hate crimes. I also think educating those who come from a white American/ European background will help them understand the difference between cultures and create a diverse system of change within our community. In response to this, I hope we are able to add a class in which we are able to learn about different ethnicities and cultures, in order to achieve these understandings.”

The Ethnic Studies club is a place where students can meet to learn about different cultures around the world. Viviana explained a normal club meeting as “A normal meeting for this club consists of me starting off by asking a fun question. For example, our last question was "Where is somewhere you want to travel?". And then after everybody answers, we will talk about upcoming events/projects that we can do in order to promote diversity.”  Everyone is welcomed at this club and they pride themselves on the diversity within the club. At this week's meeting, an Ethnic Studies trainer Carlos Hagedorn is coming to speak on his experiences in the field. These interactive games, presentations, and open discussions allow for a free-flowing meeting with constant entertainment. 

Learning about different cultures than one's own can have exponentially beneficial effects. Viviana concluded by saying “ There are so many people of different backgrounds at our school and having a place where they could learn about their own and others' backgrounds would be incredibly beneficial for students. I know as a Hispanic student, I would love to have an Ethnic Studies course.” If you also wish to have an Ethnic Studies course or wish to contribute to society and learn more about the world around you, join meetings Monday at 12:45. 

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