High school would be my first foray into a world that wasn't always multicultural. While Catholic middle school was great at introducing me into the Latino culture of San Diego, high school exposed me to more people who had no clue how to interact with other people of other races. It was all stripped down to Filipino culture only knowing themselves, Blacks from southeast understanding themselves, white people being in their own spheres and Latinos put their own thoughts all together. Bused in communities (just realized that this is bus integration!) helped keep our school diverse, but in a sense nobody mixed or mingled. I did and eventually people would mix and mingle because they had classes with people they never had known before. As such, we had some really great moments and times with each other.
Furthermore, my school had a multi-cultural fair every year in which people of nearly every culture on campus could share their meals (yes we even had some assholes ask for a caucasian club......) from Polynesian, Mexican, Russian, Soul Food, Persian, Filipino, Chinese and more it was one of the best events of the year and really allowed every culture to flourish. As a result, we had a ton of clubs and ways to perform (dance, step, Polynesian dancing, salsa, cheerleading, drill team, drumline, band, and even an all male dance group) during this celebration you also got different clubs to perform during it. It really gets me excited that nearly every culture was represented and respected during this event.
However, it wasn't all roses as we had fights between blacks and whites (yes we had a bit of race war during my freshman year) and literally I wasn't present for a ton of them and even got into the mob mentality of being excited for a race war. Oddly enough, I knew a ton and even hung out with some of the white people (hell I even defended some from blacks); however, I still checked in with the blacks even though they usually wanted nothing to do with me. But hey I was biracial. We also occasionally had issues of gender and sexuality, but then again we had a gay male be prom king/queen while the queen was a cisgender female named Michael (and she was beautiful). Diversity was also everywhere in our sports though so many white people asked me for the black opinion growing up and I even struggled with my identity by calling myself Mike the Black Guy (absurd). My dad wishes he helped/questioned why I did that more as I struggled a lot with the push and pull of high school even though I hung out with a spectrum for people that enabled me to learn about cultures.
University of Southern California
There are many ways in which I felt college was a step back. It was even more white and our Greek system shaped most of the opinions of people in college. Furthermore, do the cost of USC it seemed that only the rich and wealthy whites attended. However, USC also gives out more financial aid to almost anyone and enabled a good amount of Blacks and Latinos to attend USC for free. While I met people of nearly every race and class (including learning about Indian culture and Banghra along with Hong Kong and the rugby world).
While USC was so grandiose to have literally two of every ethnic frat and sorority (two Latino, two Black sororities, two East-Asian and etc..), they kept themselves reserved so you often didn't get a chance to meet them. Who you did meet were brilliant people of color in several majors in/off the athletic field. We also had a great deal of diversity with clubs, cultures, languages and even performances to add to that.
As with all aspects of Southern California as region it wasn't all mixing and mingling. In college, most people come from a culture where they have only known their own their entire lives whether that is overseas or not. Some of the more diverse countries had understanding people (England, Dubai, Hong Kong etc...). However, some cultures were almost xenophobic in their understanding of the US culture (many Chinese accountant students as one example). This wasn't limited to country differences, but US regional and racial differences too. Most Blacks were awful to me because that didn't understand my San Diego suburb upbringing. On the flip side, my first year roommate was ignorant and to extent racist (cultural appropriating my ideas, judging everything of my blackness, and even telling me once he shaved his head because he joined the Klan...) I should've been angrier at him, but I didn't get it at first. He was only slightly worse than the Latino roommates of sophomore year who talked about me in Spanish (before I knew it) or the confused gay Black guy of Junior year who didn't understand any of my differences from being a Black stereotype.
In the end, my high school and college were similar in that everyone went there and that they celebrated all. However, this also kept everything status quo and colorblind as several issues were not confronted unless you delved deeper. Since many people didn't they were living in a facade that I have trouble returning to after my time in the South and NYC. Southern California stays laidback and not confrontational, but it needs to realize what is really gone. At the same time as a biracial child I do appreciate that diversity was celebrated in both schools.