When the subject of diversity in the Diocese of Orange Schools comes up, one assumes that it reflects the demographics of Orange County. In fact, diversity in diocesan schools exceeds that of O.C. Under the SEVP (Student & Exchange Visitor Program) that is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Diocese of Orange has been accepting students from all around the world since 2002. Today, its high schools and many of its elementary schools have accepted students from Mexico, Vietnam, South Korea, China, the Philippines, Germany, Spain and Poland. Currently over 200 students from around the globe attend schools throughout the diocese.
Among the documents that are required in order to qualify for an F1 student visa, students must provide a handwritten letter explaining why they want to attend school in the United States. The insight gleaned from these letters demonstrates the similarity and the disparity between education in the U.S. and in the world at large.
In the similarity column, students are eager to participate in sports and value the opportunity to learn from and compete against the best. Fine Arts programs that include music and theater are often noted in their letters. Students look forward to developing friendships and joining the communities at our Catholic schools. Students often remark on the freedom they see both inside and outside the classrooms and, strangely enough, the diversity in cultures. From elementary to high school, foreign students recognize and embrace the opportunity to experience all that the Diocese of Orange schools have to offer. One student was too young to write his feeling so he drew a picture of children playing together. That was “worth more than 1,000 words.”
Foreign students benefit from the education and Catholic environment that they have chosen to be part of and U.S. students benefit by having the opportunity to see and experience foreign countries and customs by interacting with their international friends. All are given a profound understanding of what diversity truly means.