Magnet Schools

What if you lived in one place where everything was the same, and you were an outcast? Would you rather live in a single place with several different people but never blend in completely with one another?

“The United States is a melting pot.” I look at the sentence on the paper. What does this have to do with health professions–at all? I ask myself in my freshman health class.

After reading the entire paper, my teacher adds, “By the way, I don’t think the United States is a melting pot.”

“What’s that?” someone asks.

“You know,” our teacher explains, “it’s like a place that blends in a lot of cultures.”

“Oh,” someone else says. “Yeah, I guess it is.”

“No,” my teacher says, “not really. I think it hasn’t blended much. I think it’s more like a tossed salad. D–do you even understand?”

“I think so,” someone replies.

A tossed salad? Yes, the United States is a mix of some cultures, but do I believe it all blended to the point it’s called a “melting pot”? No. A tossed salad where not everything is mixed but somewhat together and considered one thing–yes.

Plus, a lot of things are different when you go to different places in the United States. The food is also a lot different. The accents are different. The environment itself is different. I mean, in some parts of the US, it’s snowing in winter, but in others, it’s blazing hot. In one area, it’s humid, in others, it’s dry–like, dry. There’s places with floods, but at the same times, there are areas with droughts.

But we’re not talking about environment–we’re talking about culture.

A lot of people come to the US, expecting some glamorous life, and do they get it? Meh, not really, or at least, not most of the time. I mean, my parents (who came in the late 1990s) are happy that they got a better life than where they were, but they’re sad that they’re separated. Also, we’re seen as a minority. I was all alone, and no one seemed to care. My classmates just kept to themselves. What’s funny is that the minority in one state isn’t the same as another. For example, the minority up north may be Hispanics, but down south? They make up a huge part–or at least where I’m from. There are, however, a lot of different cultures in the United States.

But I didn’t know that several years ago.

I was raised in a Catholic school from first grade to eighth grade. No one there was like me, but I never noticed. Everyone–everyone–was Hispanic, mainly Mexican. How many Asians? There was a total of three in my class–including me.

Everyone had common things but me. The other two were classmates I didn’t talk to, and most of the time, they would leave the school for a year and come back, leaving me alone.

So when I went to a magnet school for high school, I was surprised. Not everyone was Hispanic. There were a lot less Mexicans. There were plenty of Asians. There were plenty of people who spoke a language other than Spanish, English, or French. People spoke different languages! I heard Tagalog every now and then as I walked the hallways. I heard my classmate speak Mandarin when she was on the phone with her dad. I heard Hindi spoken with several of my classmates (and one of them forgot they were talking to me and spoke Hindi instead of English).

I was raised to know English, then in a school that taught Spanish, then in a high school that exposed me to several different languages at once (which, by the way, isn’t that much of a brilliant idea if you try learning too many languages at once… I still mix up Tagalog and Spanish every now and then and never reached the full potential of just one–I understand Tagalog when it’s spoken but not with Spanish, unless it’s written). Imagine outside of the US. HUGE.

Cultural differences are what make things interesting. So if the US became a melting pot, I might even want to move. I prefer a huge tossed salad instead >_< since it offers a lot of different cultures, meaning new ideas, foods, games, and friends. Why live in a place with one thing? I’d be bored. Maybe that’s why I don’t want to leave my high school and go back to my home high school in my home city.

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