Imagine walking into a bright room and seeing a variety of colors, objects, and cultural items that make you feel as if you were home. On the walls there are stories written by students talking about their own religion, race, how they’re judged or their misconceptions.
What used to be the old piano in room 100 is now the family room, also known as South’s Heart. When you first walk in, you will be able to see a room full of unique things. For example, there are pieces of fabric hanging on the walls. Near parent liaison Mohamed Bulhan’s desk, there is a piece of fabric with animals printed on it all the way from North Africa.
There’s even a kids corner for the little ones filled with toys and books for them to have fun and play while parents are being assisted. The old parent liaison office was located in room 103 and was nothing but a small room with papers, but now, the remodeling of the old piano room turned into a welcoming place for all.
Mohamed Bulhan (Somali/English) and Esmeralda Duran-Silvan (Spanish/English) are the two parent liaisons here at South. Their role is to coordinate between the community and the school by helping families with interpretation, finding the right resources, and helping them take advantage of what this school has to offer.
Art to Change the World is an organization that partnered up with South to help with the remodeling of the new family room. By providing funds, donating books, helping students create flags, and so much more, they were successful and turned an old room into a family friendly place for everyone to enjoy. “I’m just glad that people took the time or even out in the community… and for Art to Change the World, I’m glad they took the initiative to come and do something,” said Duran-Silvan. She continued, “I like the idea of the community and students that stepped up to do it, we really needed it.”
“It’s to connect the families with school opportunities or provide them with information with what’s school about…there are some parents who come to us sometimes and ask us ‘what’s Liberal Arts, what’s Open’ or they don’t even know about post secondary classes like pseo,” said Duran-Silvan.
She continued, “If we didn’t have this, then I don’t think families wouldn’t be learning or knowing about anything…sometimes people don’t know and having this [room] opens more possibilities for families.”
The goal of this room is to make families feel comfortable and a place where they can go to get the help they need in order for their students to succeed. The room is not only for parents and the community, but also for students if they are having any issues with anything. “We’re here to give them support and help them in every way that we can,” said Duran-Silvan.
This is Bulhan’s first year as the Somali/English speaking parent liaison here at South. “We needed a space that accommodates everyone…people come from diverse backgrounds and places…we wanted a space where all felt welcomed,” said Bulhan. He continued, “We need parents and the community to connect to the school, and this room is like the gateway.”
Senior Kadra Dahir was one of the many students that helped contribute to this room. Everyone did something that mattered to them and their race so that people will get a chance to know who they are as a person. “My part was talking about Somali people, talking about the country… I want other people who are not Somali to know who we are,” said Dahir.
“What we did was we put up every flag of all students, like the Mexican flag, the American flag, the Somali flag…so that when people come there, they would feel welcomed and see that their flag is there,” said Dahir. She continued, “It’s all about connection…in this school most of our students are kind of separated just by our race, so we want everyone to get to know each other.”
There was an opening ceremony to show the new and improved room in late November. Bulhan taught people some Somali words, there were cultural foods for people to try, and students shared their personal stories they created about themselves. “At the end, the outcome was unity and diversity. We’re all different but as human beings we are all united to make our lives better everyday,” said Bulhan.