The cafeteria at Queen Charlotte Intermediate School in Charlottetown has had a makeover — its walls are now lined with large vibrant posters of flags from around the world.
With an ever-increasing diversity among students and staff — there are currently students from 66 different countries — they say it's an effective way to send a message that everyone is welcome.
"It's really cool to like to be able to see your flag, and having people see their flag," said Jerome Chen, the student council co-president. Chen moved to P.E.I. from Taiwan.
Antonio Moraru, born in Romania, is the other co-president. He said it's good to see the images of flags around the cafeteria.
"It's just incredible to see, people from all different cultures and backgrounds and we get to know them," Moraru said.
"We took a step and we're proud of the diversity."
'Feel more that they belong'
Some students new to P.E.I. said it can be hard adjusting to life in a different country, and even just seeing that familiar flag from home can help.
"When I first came here, it was really hard cause I didn't know how to speak English, so it was hard to learn the language and try to fit in," said Abdul Dabbit, who moved to P.E.I. from Syria when he was in elementary school.
Dabbit believes if someone new arrives at the school and sees their flag, it could make a difference.
"Anyone that comes here that's new, they can feel more that they belong here."
School connections cross borders
Queen Charlotte's principal, K.J. White, said the flags recognize all students are equal and connected to each other through the school.
He wants everyone to feel like they're part of the Queen Charlotte Coyotes, the name of the school's teams.
White said the flags have been a two-year project that was a bit delayed by the pandemic, so it feels good to see it completed.
"Here in our cafeteria is kind of the hub of the school," White said. "They come here every day and they feel they belong."
Some students were surprised to learn the school has people from so many different countries.
"It's really nice. Even if people aren't exactly who you are, nobody's the same right? We're all together no matter what," said Juliette Bader, co-vice-president of the student council.
Fellow co-vice-president Anna Clark said the diverse school community deserves celebrating.
"I really think it exposes us in such a good way," she said. "When we're older I think we'll all be just really accepting and more educated and open about all the different cultures."
Next, the school plans a large poster at the school's main entrance which will say "welcome" in more than 30 languages. It also recently held a diversity week with speakers and other activities to raise awareness.
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