RUMFORD — Mountain Valley High School senior Jared Arsenault said he learned at Tuesday’s Diversity Day that being introduced to differences is an important part of life.

“I learned how ignorant people can be toward people who are different,” he said as he prepared to enter a workshop on Lithuanians. He had already attended presentations on Hispanics and the lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender population. The sessions provided an opportunity for people from many ethnicities and lifestyles to talk about their experiences.

Some students learned that many things they think they know about Native Americans are untrue. Among the truths described was the belief that although there is no God, everyone and everything is connected.

Speaker Sikwani Dana told a group that Native Americans definitely did not dress only in the barest of coverings and did not cuddle with wolves, as they are sometimes pictured.

Diane Gallagher, director of Safe Voices, taught about rape and dating abuse by calling on students to portray roles in a dating relationship. Sophomore Ali Turnick said the presentation taught her about her rights, relationships and what can be done legally.

In other workshops, Conor Jacobson learned how girls and women are often portrayed as sex objects, while Zach Duguay learned of the problems Somali refugees experienced when they tried to immigrate.

For sophomore Logan Hanmer, listening to Cambodians who had to walk through minefields to escape came as a big surprise.

Others learned of the difficulties some students have when they have a learning disability by reading text as an affected student might see it.

Some of the other presenters told of the African-American experience in Maine, the Special Olympics and several other perspectives.


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