POP Students visit Hartland

Kara Givens, Reporter

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PEOPLE of the Pacific, or POP, is a class here at Granger High School that is focused on teaching Lancers about the Pacific Islander culture and sharing it with others. On December 12, 2019, POP went to the Hartland Partnership Center on an off-campus field trip led by the POP teacher and the theatre director to share the Pacific Islander culture. The Hartland Partnership Center offers resources such as English language instruction, mental health support, citizenship classes, employment workshops, after school and summer programs, and educational resources to the community.

Mrs. Shawnee Smith and Ms. Jana Timpson have been planning the Hartland Center visit since the end of Smith’s maternity leave in October. “A lot of this has to do with Granger’s diverse student body and building connections within them,” Smith said. Seeking out opportunities to introduce these connections to others can be a very positive thing.

Although Smith involved her two periods of POP, Timpson had originally reached out to her with the idea. “I got introduced to the Hartland Center because I am a part of the Masters’ Program here at the University of Utah, and I heard about these amazing kids,” Timpson said. Because of Granger’s immense diversity, joining different ethnic groups is a great way of creating connections within the community.

“I think what we’re doing is a great act of service,” Madison Lokotui (10) said. After helping out with the poster for the closing activity and the game station planning, Lokotui strongly feels that everybody in the world should be doing what they are doing. Outside of POP, there are many different service projects that Lancers and other individuals can participate in.

Partnered with Kelby McIntyre Martinez, the Assistant Dean for Arts Education and Community Engagement at the University of Utah, POP had a wonderful time sharing the Pacific Islander culture through music, dance, art, and games with the Congolli children at the Hartland afterschool program. “I’ve never seen them get so used to people so quick, and I’m so glad they are bringing Granger and Glendale together,” Martinez said.

Being in the game station, Angelina Tiatia (11) had a great time running around with the kids and acting like a child again. Relating to them in ways that some cannot, she felt as though she had to step outside of her comfort zone in order to be there with them. “I really do think that I connected with the kids by just interacting with them and talking to them. They also made me step out of my comfort zone,” Tiatia said.

For Metina Lakjohn (10), sharing culture with the kids at Glendale was a whole new experience for her. “I like that the Polynesian culture is finally getting out there,” Lakjohn said. Being in the game group, like Tiatia, Lakjohn played around with the kids and joked around a lot, showing the other students a different side of her. Although it wasn’t easy to connect with the Hartland kids, Lakjohn did a great job showing that she truly cared about them.

“The kids are thriving, and I really don’t think that we would have been able to do what you guys are doing on our own,” Jasmine Montoya, an assistant coordinator at UNP Hartland Youth Center, said. The connections the POP students had formed with the kids had indeed surpassed Montoya’s expectations for the project.

“It was really fun and heartwarming to share our culture with the kids and see what it really means to have humanity in one another,” Gracelynna Jude (9) said. In addition to Tiatia, Jude loved to see the kids step out of their comfort zones and warm up to her. She connected with the kids through dance and did everything she could to make sure that the kids had a great time.

In sharing the Pacific Islander culture with the Congolli students at the Hartland Partnership Center, these Lancers also learned a bit about their culture. Through music, dance, language, and games, POP connected with the kids on the deep level that was anticipated to be developed. Thankfully, the kids had a great time connecting with students from Granger.