Who We Are

Ethnic Diversity at Ripon High

Maria Soto and Haley Meece (Graphic Artist)

    From left to right: Pablo Merlos, Connie Park, Sada Gill, Geoffery Felver, Zaahir Al-Marwani Zaro, Ann Pedleton, Brendan Lan, Zoe Barba, and Evelyn Tison


Known by many as the melting pot of the world, America is filled with people of different colors and cultures, and yet, we are all American.


Na·tion·al·i·ty noun: the status of belonging to a particular nation.


What makes us who we are though? It’s not all just fireworks and hamburgers, flag pants and football, bald eagles and not using the metric system– it is the individual cultures that come together in the most beautiful way that makes us who we are.


Race nouneach of the major divisions of humankind, having distinct physical characteristics.


In our little town of Ripon, California and in our quaint school, Ripon High, we have our own mix of ethnicities that contribute to RHS´s campus. In a recent poll that students and faculty members chose to be a part of, the participants were asked six simple questions about their ethnicities:


  • What is your ethnicity?
  • Do you speak a language other than English?
  • Does your ethnicity affect the way you live?
  • Do you feel that you are often mistaken for a different ethnicity?
  • Do you feel that people treat you differently when they learn your actual ethnicity?
  • What part about your ethnicity/ethnicities do you like most?


Of those who participated in this poll, 54% identified themselves as European American, 46.9% as Hispanic or Latin American, 12% as Asian American, 11% as Native American or Alaskan Native, 6% as Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, 4% as Middle Eastern, 4% as African, and a proud 2% as “American!”.


Eth·nic·i·ty noun: the fact or state of belonging to a social group that has a common national or cultural tradition.


RHS junior Zaahir Al-Marwani Zaro is Palestinian (Middle Eastern American) said that his ethnicity affects his day to day actions. “…it encourages me to be the best I can be because at the end of the day there is always the chance for my family to get judged based on our ethnicity,” Zaro confided.

So often in America, we focus on race instead of ethnicity– why is that? We are so much more than the color of our skin or the features of our face. We are beings filled with history and culture. 26.5% of poll participants stated that they speak a language other than English and 36.7% stated that they can understand a language other than English, but are not completely fluent.

Mrs. Pendleton, a science teacher at RHS, is part of Ripon’s large Dutch (European American) community and speaks Dutch fluently.

¨A lot of my identity is based upon my ethnicity and how I was raised. I view things differently at times because of my parents’ choice to move here,” she shared, “I like that I have clear roots from a different country and that I still have direct ties to family members there.¨

Many people, if not almost all, have mixed ethnicities. Senior Pablo Merlos shared that he recently discovered that he is not just Hispanic– he is part Native American as well.

“…It’s hard to tell what influences me. Especially finding out about my other ethnicities,” Merlos stated. Although he still has more to learn about his ethnicities, he enjoys “the mystery behind [his] culture and the traditions/values [they] hold.”

Brendan Lan, a sophomore on campus, is Taiwanese (Asian American and Pacific Islander) and speaks Mandarin.

When he was asked if his ethnicity affects the way that he lives, he responded, “Yeah, I’m more socially pressured to be academically strong; it’s expected”.

This last summer, Lan had the chance to visit Taiwan, the country he was born in, with his family. When he was there, he remembered one of his favorite things about it.

“The food is immensely amazing and I wish that more people could try it!”

Lan is not the only poll participant that celebrated the foods that are part of his culture. 19% of the people surveyed talked about their love of their culture’s food. Many people also shared the different ways in which their ethnicity affected other areas of their life.

Senior Evelyn Tison, who is Vietnamese (Asian American), shared that her ethnicity affects her discipline, freedoms, and morals.

“People of different backgrounds have different expectations for their children, and raise them accordingly,” she stated. “There needs to be more awareness and acceptance of these differences.”

Ethnicities are beautiful, impactful and are to be respected. Ripon High is a growing campus filled with students from many different backgrounds; it is important to remember to be sensitive and respectful of others’ ethnicities and your own. Remember that you should treat others how you wish to be treated and that kindness matters.

In the words of Tison, “my ethnicity is such a central part of who I am, I could never imagine anything else”.