GCC Students Provide Lessons in Diversity to Local Schools

Elmer Ayala
El Vaquero Staff Writer

The Service Learning Center offers GCC students the opportunity to lead discussions at local middle and high schools on the issues of homophobia, media stereotypes, sexism, prejudice, and culture through a program known as STAR (Students Talk About Race).

The eight-week STAR program is entering its fifth year at GCC.
Students participating in the program attend a six-hour training class prior to their first in-class discussion. Once they finish their training, they are sent with another program participant to a local school. Thereafter, volunteers commit to one hour a week.

“The effects of STAR on our students never cease to amaze me,” said Hoover Zariani, co-director of the Service Learning Center, “I find our students to be so giving and caring to begin with and this program just reaffirms it every semester.”

The STAR program began as a project of People for the American Way, a nonprofit organization promoting tolerance for diversity and respect for constitutional rights, especially the freedom of statement. It was introduced in the state of California in 1992, soon after the Los Angeles riots. It was clear at the time that more needed to be done as far as diversity tolerance was concerned. The program eventually came to GCC in 1996 and has continued since, though it is no longer run by the America Way, but by the service learning center.

The STAR program is a great opportunity for those interested in teaching or those who just want something great to put on a job or university application. The program for the fall semester has already begun, but the service learning center is signing up all those who are interested in the STAR program for the spring semester.

The service learning center is an excellent resource for those students seeking volunteer opportunities in non-profit organizations, said Zariani. “We help students see first hand the things that they learn in classes like sociology, and psychology”, Zariani then said.
The service learning center is located in the Sierra Madre building, office 267 (immediately next to the cafeteria). For more information contact Hoover Zariani at Ext. 5789.