High schools are increasingly diverse with students representing many cultures sharing the same buildings, but rarely the same experiences. Many forward-thinking schools spend much of the year celebrating this diversity and emphasizing the ways it makes us stronger instead of dwelling on the ways we are divided.
Prom is a perfect opportunity to recognize the many cultures in your school. You can do this in a variety of easy, yet significant ways, including:
- Showcase prom dresses from different cultures at a unity-themed school fashion show or on your school’s news report. You will be amazed at how different and elaborate some dresses will be. Welcome and encourage students to wear formalwear, or at least accents of it, from their home culture.
- Translate prom invitations into your school’s dominant other languages. This can take a while, so start early. Check translations with a native speaker – don’t simply rely on the often incorrect Google Translate site.
- Have students make posters in a variety of languages whenever they are making English versions so all students feel included.
- Involve any language clubs you might have on campus in your efforts to celebrate diversity.
- Hire a DJ who can play dance music from different cultures. Not every song has to be foreign, but play a few and you might learn some very cool new dances.
- Take religious and cultural meal requests and dietary restrictions into account when planning your menus. Many cultures only allow vegetarian meals outside of the home, or require special food preparation, like Kosher practices. Make sure your caterer has items available that meet these needs, especially if you have a larger population of a culture that follows strict food guidelines.
- Include other languages in your prom presentations and rituals like the presentation of the prom court.
- Explore local cultural centers as possible prom venues.
- Ask for parents and friends in various communities to join your prom planning committee so they can help you introduce multicultural elements into the plans.
- Share your event and all of the great ideas you had with your community to encourage additional opportunities to share cultural heritage in a positive and uplifting way.
Remember that culture doesn’t just mean a foreign language or someone’s immigrant status. Different races have their own styles and fashions, as well as their own foods and ideas about celebration. Regionally, throughout the country, proms can look very different. If you’re in a heavily military town, you might have students from all over the country who want to share their ideas. Deaf students experience music differently from hearing students, and many proms are welcoming same-gender couples now, creating whole new opportunities for exchanging ideas and support for people who come from different backgrounds.
The world we live in can be very divided, but you have a unique opportunity to make your prom the start of a more accepting, kinder society. Seize this opportunity and celebrate the differences that make our world a more interesting place to live!