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Teen embraces, furthers ethnic diversity.

Byline: Faces and places by The Register-Guard

Name: Raven Chanay

Age: 18

School: Churchill High School, Eugene

Grade: 12

Family: Mother, Jessica Chanay; father, Lance Chanay; younger brother, Nigel, 15.

Background: She was born in New Mexico and lived in England and Georgia before settling in Eugene when she was 6. Her parents were in the U.S. Air Force, so the family moved a lot.

Neighborhood: The family recently moved to the Spencer Butte area but lived near Adams Elementary School before that.

Favorite thing about school: "Probably the people. Getting to know all these other people has really been great."

Least favorite thing about school: "It's so early in the morning!"

School activities: In her freshman year at Churchill, Chanay - whose father is Native American - launched a Native American Student Union, which is still going strong. She'd been involved in a similar club at Jefferson Middle School and wanted to follow through at the high school. The club tries to meet for lunch once a week, and it puts on special presentations. Earlier this year, the group put on one called "Not Your Average Textbook," which dealt with stereotypes and omissions about Native American history in textbooks. The union also sells fry bread - a popular Native American specialty - once or twice a month.

Best subject: Math

Worst subject: English

Job: Since September, she's been working as a program assistant for the NATIVES Program, a federally funded program that provides academic and cultural programs for Native American and Alaskan students in nine Lane County school districts. She's been full-time since April, when her class load lightened at school. She also teaches Native dance once a week at the program offices at Whiteaker Elementary School. She hasn't yet got a driver's license, so she commutes by bus - a ride that can take as long as 90 minutes.

Volunteer work: Chanay has been an active volunteer through high school, working at the Boys & Girls Club of Emerald Valley (she also had a paid job there), St. Vincent de Paul, FOOD for Lane County and the University of Oregon Community Outreach Partnership Center. She often helps with child care. "They're just fun," she says of working with kids. "I like it because they keep things simple, they get right to the point. They're so open-minded."

Pastimes: She attends all the pow-wows she can, spends time with her friends and baby-sits. "I've always felt kind of weird getting paid for baby-sitting because I really enjoy it," she says. "It's like you're being paid for making friends." She also loves bead work and playing sports, especially soccer.

Plans after graduation: Chanay has no immediate summer plans, other than a trip to Georgia to visit her dad's relatives. Then she'll enroll at Lane Community College, where she'll focus on ethnic studies, and then transfer to a university. She also hopes to get a chance to study abroad, perhaps in Thailand, through a student exchange program. Eventually, she hopes to be a professor in ethnic studies.

Why a professor: Even though she loves working with young children and might do some teaching, she believes she can do more to broaden cultural understanding at the university level. "I think it needs to start more with teaching the teachers" who are teaching the younger kids, she says.

Favorite food: Mashed potatoes

Favorite movie: "Big Business"

Favorite TV show: "Friends"

Favorite book: "The Good Earth" and "Memoirs of a Geisha"

Favorite music: All kinds, including swing, rhythm & blues and pow-wow music.

Something she'd like to change in the world: "Something I wish I could change would be just to teach people not to be narrow-minded."

Honors: Chanay this year received the principal's Citizenship Award, a school award for efforts in multicultural leadership and an Equity Committee award. She was also named Student of the Year by the Oregon Indian Education Association.

Favorite school memory: Slipping and falling into a giggly pile with two of her friends at the doorstep of a grocery across the street from Churchill. They'd run over in the rain to buy milk for fry bread and one of them slipped, setting off a chain reaction.

Biggest pet peeve: "When people have already judged me before they really know me."

- By Anne Williams

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FACES & PLACES / Raven Chanay
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Title Annotation:Schools
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jun 10, 2002
Words:713
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