World Day for Cultural Diversity is celebrated on May 21 of every year and was adopted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and the United Nations General Assembly in 2002.
One of my favorite things about living in New Mexico is the diverse cultures that are intertwined in our daily lives. We have the opportunity to learn from members of these cultures and traditions, which brings richness and authenticity.
Recently, I had the opportunity to meet with Rachel Patton, librarian at Manzano Day School, and Danielle Olivas, the President of the Manzano Day School Parents Association. We discussed how Manzano Day School includes diversity throughout its curriculum and school community.
Diversity Through Books
Manzano Day School, an independent school in Albuquerque serving students in pre-K through 5th grade, views their library as a place for connection among students, faculty, and families. Rachel Patton, the librarian at Manzano Day School, believes diversity is the cornerstone of librarianship.
There have been many studies showing that when students see themselves represented in books, they feel safe to take greater risks when it comes to learning. In addition, books and learning resources that include diverse cultures and perspectives can assist educators (and parents) in helping students become compassionate leaders of the future.
As parents, we can intentionally bring in books that help reflect our family’s culture and experience, while also bringing in different perspectives to show our children the vast diversity in our local and global communities. Here are a few ideas on how to intentionally bring more culturally diverse experiences into our family lives:
- Attend local author events at local bookstores.
- Explore new authors through summer reading, reading aloud together, or audiobooks. Rachel recommends JC Cervantes, author of the Storm Runner series, who weaves Mayan mythology and the disability experience into her works.
- Visit cultural museums, such as the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque, or take a day trip to Santa Fe and visit the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture and the Museum of International Folk Art. Many museums across the world now offer virtual tours or digital resources as well.
Diversity Through Family Involvement
In addition to implementing a curriculum and utilizing intentional educational resources, Manzano Day School leverages their diverse student community to further their value of cultural diverse learning. The school community celebrates diversity throughout the year through events like Fall Festival and Spring Fling. Additionally, Manzano Day School’s Spanish curriculum focuses on cultural learning alongside learning the language.
The Manzano Day School Parent Association also encourages parents to get involved in the classroom. Parents can come and teach about family traditions, special holidays, cultural dances, or recipes. Danielle, president of the association, said teachers are always encouraging students to bring their culture into the classroom. This not only enriches the learning, but also creates a supportive environment where every student can thrive.
To hear more from my conversations with Rachel and Danielle, check out the videos below.