High school students sat on the gym floor and gathered around him to listen to his speech on respecting cultural differences.
“Bottom line, we are still human beings,” Taylor said.
Assistant Principal Scott Anderle met Taylor in 1997 during a student team building program at the YMCA Glendale. Students in the program responded positively to Taylor and said they wanted to hear more of his speeches, Anderle said.
So in 2005 when high school administrators were looking for someone to speak to Latino and Armenian students who were fighting, Anderle suggested him. Taylor’s speeches helped turn around the racial tension at the high school, Anderle said.
“It was really, really successful,” he said. “At this point, we have seen a decrease in fights.”
High school administrators have continuously asked Taylor to speak with students since the success of his 2005 speeches.
Tuesday’s speech was aimed at teaching the students how treat others with respect and dignity.
He told the students it didn’t matter whether they ate different foods, wore different clothing and practiced other religions, they could still be friends.
“Remember that a person has feelings,” Taylor told the students.
He advised students during his speech to be fearless when learning about other cultures and not to be afraid to talk to people who are different. Learning a few words in a different language would help them connect with other people from different cultures, Taylor said.
“You always have the edge when you learn how people do things,” he told students.
But Sophomore Elvis Khachykia, 17, finds it challenging to approach someone that he doesn’t know, he said.
“They think you’re weird,” Elvis said.
Taylor told them there are people in this world who are blunt and will say things to hurt them, but he said they should stay strong.
“I go places and people treat me in an undignified manner,” he said.
After listening to Taylor’s speech, Sophomore Caroline Aghajanians said she learned that she should treat people of all races and ethnicities with respect.
“It was very inspiring,” she said. “I wanted to keep hearing it. It was fun.”
Sophomore Adriana Vallin-Aguilera, 16, said she was reminded not to judge people.
“You can’t keep a closed mind,” she said.