On another fun Friday, The Collaborative for Multilingual Writing and Research (CMWR) held a Conversation and Culture discussion of the American high school system. We hosted students from Mexico and Saudi Arabia. After we all introduced ourselves to each other, everyone explained a little bit about their high school experience.
One of the most interesting things that I found out was that in Saudi Arabia, the private schools are similar to our public schools and our private schools are similar to their public schools. That is, in Saudi Arabia, students have to wear formal attire in public schools. In their private schools, the students are allowed to wear jeans and casual clothing. After our Saudi Arabian students explained the differences in between their public and private schools, we explained to them the differences in America. They thought it was funny that our private schools are usually the schools that require students to wear uniforms.
One commonality that we found was that schools in America and Saudi Arabia don’t allow cell phone usage. We also learned that they usually have school from 630am/7am to 1pm. Breakfast is served at their schools, but they eat lunch at home.
We watched a famous clip on YouTube of the “Mean Girls” lunchroom scene. From that, we discussed high school lunchrooms, clicks and stereotypes. The students from Mexico said that they felt more of a community in the student body and that there were not clicks like in America. All of the students talked to each other and were friendly to one another. Although “Mean Girls” exaggerates high school and its clicks, we talked about how some of the ideas still resonate with each of us, which is why the movie is popular. For example, we talked about how starting in at least middle school, students sit at one table for the beginning of school and they remain sitting there until the end of the school year.
Our international students from Mexico stated that they rarely sat down for lunch and they usually went out side for activities, or just walked around and ate. Our students from Saudi Arabia ate lunch at home.
It was interesting comparing high schools in three different countries and finding commonalties and differences amongst them. I certainly remember back in freshman year of high school everyone sat at their specific table and formed clicks. I was never able to go outside during lunch until I had off-campus lunch in my junior and senior year. I would have loved to have been able to go outside and hang out in the courtyard like our students from Mexico, or to have been able to go home for lunch every day, like our students from Saudi Arabia