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History teacher Elizabeth Gonzalez advocates for diversity

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Seeing the world from a new perspective

World history teacher Elizabeth Gonzalez helps sophomore Liliana Tachiquin with her essay.

World history teacher Elizabeth Gonzalez helps sophomore Liliana Tachiquin with her essay.

Photo by Anna Velazquez

World history teacher Elizabeth Gonzalez helps sophomore Liliana Tachiquin with her essay.

Photo by Anna Velazquez

Photo by Anna Velazquez

World history teacher Elizabeth Gonzalez helps sophomore Liliana Tachiquin with her essay.

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She sits in her living room, glasses resting on her nose as she watches television. Multiple news reports flash across the screen, focusing on the 2016 presidential election. With that comes the topic of immigration; she can’t escape it. It follows her everywhere she goes. She’s inexplicably bothered by the lack of acceptance in the world.

Frustrated by all the negative commentary from both adults and students about immigration, world history teacher Elizabeth Gonzalez decided to make her opinion public on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015. She tweeted a picture of her and her parents with the caption “If these two criminals had not broken the law, you all would not have the pleasure of having me as your teacher.”

“[My parents] are not bad people,” Gonzalez said. “I call them criminals in the post as a joke, but neither one of them are criminals. People want to criminalize everybody and make a general blanket statement about all immigrants. I just don’t think that’s fair.”

Dealing with discrimination has been a part of Gonzalez’ life since she was 18. She was often stereotyped for her darker skin color. One day at her job as a cashier, a customer complained about not being able to understand Gonzalez’ accent, despite her speaking English for the majority of her life.

“I was very confused by it and then I realized she just could not see past the color of my skin and I thought ‘how sad,’” Gonzalez said. “How sad for me, but now that I’m older I think how sad for her, that she doesn’t have that experience and she lives in Texas, like you should know better.”

Multiple students can relate to Gonzalez’ struggles as a person of color. Students think of her classroom as a safe space where they can speak their minds and opinions without judgement.

“The world is changing,” sophomore Ammar Ali said. “It’s getting more and more diverse each day and it’s better to be more tolerant and work together than being hateful and isolated. [Mrs. Gonzalez] knows that and incorporates it into her teaching and her classroom.”

Growing up around parents who always tried their best to give their children the highest education possible, Gonzalez became inspired to share that same enthusiasm with her students. She encourages students to travel around the world and learn about cultures when they’re given the opportunity.

“She’s always bringing in new ideas and is very willing to see things from another perspective,” world history teacher Steven Roper said.

Living in a diverse community can bring multiple learning opportunities. Both Gonzalez and Roper believe students shouldn’t take those opportunities for granted.

“I think we should take full advantage of the diversity that exists because that’s what the world is actually like,” Gonzalez said. “You’re going to experience it whether you chose to have that friend group in high school or not. You’re going to experience it in the real world.”

Gonzalez hopes every student who goes into her class comes out with more respect for people of diverse cultures and backgrounds. She believes looking at issues from a new perspective is an important part of life and she hopes to teach her students that.

“I think it’s a fallacy to say the world is homogenous, even though the majority culture of America may be more similar,” Gonzalez said. “But it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. How fun that we get to be in a place that’s so diverse.”

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