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What happened to good manners?

L’Observateur / October 14, 1998

Examples of poor manners are easy to find among the youth of today. Onesuch example was alleged at Leon Godchaux Junior High School, during a program on Hispanic heritage.

Following the program, Superintendent of Schools Cleveland Farlough,during his closing remarks, expressed to the students his disappointment in the students’ apparent behavior toward the guest speaker, dancers and singers, who were there to share cultural experiences with students who otherwise might never be exposed to it.

Such cultural diversity knowledge enriches the lives of people, giving them a knowledge into other cultures and ways of life far beyond their own life experiences. It’s been done for many years in elementary, middleschool and high school levels.

This has nothing to do with racial differences. This has everything to dowith simple common courtesy and good manners.

The event at the junior high school celebrated Hispanic-Americans who achieved recognition in their fields of expertise, from Gloria Estefan in music to Roberto Clemente in sports.

The guest speaker, Dr. Cesar Roca Jr., a native Cuban who escapedCommunist repression to achieve his dream of becoming a doctor of medicine at Tulane University in New Orleans, was shocked and dismayed at the behavior of the students, who apparently chattered throughout his presentation, booed, and displayed poor manners.

America’s greatest strength has always been its diversity. Nowhere elsein the world has there ever been a nation which accepted people from every culture and all walks of life, rich and poor, slave and free, and welded together a uniquely American culture.

One can, for example, go to New Orleans and find in one small area one of the widest varieties of ethnic cuisine, making New Orleans one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world. Examples of this range fromYugoslavian to Vietnamese, Chinese to Mexican, French to Indian.

Louisiana itself draws from Spanish, French, American, Caribbean and African backgrounds in its history. Here, more than almost any otherplace, we should be paragons of ethnic tolerance and acceptance. InLouisiana, we have a long history of embracing the best other cultures have to offer and making that uniquely ours.

Our student need to better appreciate the diversity of cultures which combined to make our Louisiana culture unique in the world.

“You are masters of your own destinies,” Roca told the students. “You havegreat opportunities in this country, and every bit of education you get counts. You have to take responsibility for yourself.”These were powerful words from a man who spoke with authority and with the experience of his own life. These were words our student not onlyneeded to hear but need to take to heart.

Our students are capable of doing better, of being better examples to their peers, of demonstrating that, through understanding of cultural diversity, that they are better representatives of our community.

Copyright © 1998, Wick Communications, Inc.

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