Class helps students gain insight into diverse cultures


Alison Skertic

Mrs. Pierson shows Senior Mikayla Green how to construct a dream catcher.

A new class at MHS is helping students step into the shoes of other students by exploring different ethnicities and cultural backgrounds. 

Human and Social Science 2A, taught by Mrs. Sonja Pierson, focuses on multiculturalism and diversity.

Mrs. Pierson thinks this class will help students with their future helping careers. 

“I think it’s very important and relative to each student’s lives to be able to understand about different cultures as Merrillville isn’t as diverse as the rest of the world,” she said. “There’s primary culture here and so teaching them about how to go into the helping fields and about the cultures and what different communication styles there are will help them with their career to move forward.”

They have learned about many different cultures including African, Native American, Latin American, European and Middle Eastern.

They class completes a variety of activities and projects.

¨Some of the activities we do in this class are learning about/creating mandalas and educating ourselves about our own racial identities,” Senior Eliana Moreno said. “We also made projects like dream catchers, dotted bowls, hamsas, evil eyes, etc. that relate to the culture we are researching.” 

Some of the art projects include making dream catchers and mandalas, a geometric design or pattern that represents the cosmos or deities in various heavenly worlds.

Mrs. Pierson hopes students gain important life lessons about different cultures.

“I hope they have empathy for people that are different from them and give them the opportunity to learn about different cultures and different people and understand that we’re all the same when it comes down to it,” she said. “We’re humans and we should respect one another, but we just have different ways of doing things and trying to understand and learn about them.”

Most students who choose this course want to pursue a career in social services. 

“I joined this class last year because I wanted to go into the helping field and this class helps you figure and find more stuff out about people and how to interact with people,” Senior Mikayla Green said. 

Senior Miranda Guitrrez is excited because the class is helping prepare her for her future career.

“I took it because the career I want is in human service and it’s an important class for a lot of opportunities,” she said. ¨The thing I enjoy most  in this class is creating different creations that other cultures find important and learning the meaning for it.”

The diversity class also teaches students about how different cultures interact with each other.

“Some interesting things I’ve learned was how different cultures speak to one another and learned different curses/bad luck,” Gutierrez said.

The treatment of women is also addressed in the class.

“Some interesting things I learned in this class is that in some traditions they can have arranged marriages and some heritages are deeply embedded in misogyny,” Moreno said.

Mrs. Pierson finds teaching the class fulfilling.

“I love being able to discuss different cultures and traditions and helping my students experience those cultures and traditions,” she said.