Everett High School students create mini-doc centered around cultural diversity

Students at Everett High School created a mini-documentary about the lack of cultural diversity in rural areas. (Photo credit Matt Otis)

EVERETT- What started off as an English lesson on the Holocaust in Matt Otis's classroom led to a mini-documentary on cultural diversity.

The mini-documentary, which was created by students at Everett High School and their teacher, shows how the lack of cultural diversity in rural communities can lead to stereotyping.

"There's not a lot of diversity here. It's nice to learn about other cultures beside your own, and experience that,” said sophomore Kelly Barkman.

Gage Fessler said he sees parallels between our history and today’s world.

"We watched videos at the museum about the hatred towards the Jews, and how things lead to a chain reaction to the Holocaust. And I think that’s purpose of this lesson, is to stop things from chaining into another Holocaust."

That's when Otis introduced his students to Tasmia and Taha, two Juanita College students living thousands of miles away from home.

"I definitely enjoyed their presentations. I wanted to ask so many questions. Some of it we didn't have a lot of time for," said sophomore Camile Shaffer.

Tasmia and Taha are from Pakistan and Tunisia. They talked to the Everett students about their lives, religion, and what it's like to live in a foreign country.

After completing the mini-documentary, the students and their teacher agree, there is more to learn out in the world than what's inside of their textbooks.

"Learning about the different cultures, you really are mind blown by the things you don't know,” said Kelly Barkman.

"It was kind of mesmerizing, how similar they are to us, from TV shows like Hannah Montana, and different things like that," said Gage Fessler.

Otis posted the documentary online, so others could see what happens when people let their guard down and start talking.

He believes it's the piece’s overall theme "It’s Hard to Hate Up Close" that really resonates with viewers.

"It's hard to hate up close basically means once you are exposed to something you don't know, it's hard to convey those negative stereotypes. And the best way to break those stereotypes is to meet people from other cultures,” said Otis.

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