We have all seen those Diversity group posters but very few of us actually know what the groups are all about. When people are walking past those colorful posters, they are missing a lot. The Diversity groups’ main purpose is to help you get through your struggles while you are in a different atmosphere for five weeks. Some of us feel homesick, some of us often have cultural needs that should be supported and some of us feel the need to join a group full of different or similar people in order to adjust to Exeter.
When I first came here, I felt away from home,” said Manaa Al Otaibi, of Saudi Arabia. “Now, I feel like I knew this group of people before. I feel close to them.”
The Summer Times interviewed Heather Pettis, Viviana Santos and several students who attended the Diversity group meetings. Pettis and Santos work together. “We are a tag-team on this!” said Pettis. Even though they have a hard job, they have a nice friendship and they manage to go through it, together, in the best possible way.
“We have two parts to our job.,” said Santos. “One of them is to coordinate the diversity of the summer school, the other one is to provide support for kids who are feeling out of place. We are more than happy to help students out and give them the support they need.”
There are five Diversity groups: The Middle-Eastern and Muslim Group, The International Group, The Native Americans, The Black and Latino Group and The Gay-Straight Alliance. All five groups have different strengths and different needs. This year, attendance was poor for the Diversity groups.
“As technology develops, people prefer to go through their struggles using it, which actually can make it much harder,” said Pettis. “A face-to-face conversation is always the best way to communicate with people. Not only do you feel closer to them, but you also go through the struggle in less time, without damaging yourself or others.” Added Santos: “Exactly, and we are here to help you out.”
Diversity groups will make you feel home. Just like you’re home, you will feel safe and warm, here at Exeter. Faisal Aljaber said: “I basically joined this group to get a taste of home. I miss it there, really.”
It’s good to have people who will listen to your concerns and what you want to do to feel like you’re home. All of us felt kind of homesick when we first arrived here, but we learned how to make Exeter, our home for five weeks. “Joining the group helped me a lot. Now it’a group of home, away from home.” said Alyaah Buachale. “I got homesick, I missed my country, especially the food. This diversity group helped me to get through this struggle.” said Faisal Kutbi.
As time passes, teachers start to observe the progress students make as they go through the struggle. “We are seeing a lot of progress in a very small amount of time with our students,” said Pettis. “We are here to make kids understand how to make the best of a situation, students who attend our diversity groups really do understand how to do such a thing.”
Every year, Diversity groups change due to students’ different cultures. Santos said: “Diversity groups are based on students’ interests and their desire. For example this year, the five groups we have are pretty standard.”
Students! It’s still not too late to join the Diversity groups. If you ever feel bad, visit or join the Diversity groups. Tell them about your feelings, tell them what’s good and what’s not. “I love it here,” said Faisal Aljaber. “This is the best place to be. If you miss home, if you miss someone or something, join the diversity groups, seriously. Not only will you go through your struggle, but you will make the best of what you are dealing with, whether it’s good or bad.”