“It’s just unconditional love”

Cultural Clubs provide safe space for student connections

Mia Carr and Sofia Oyarzún

Over 3,000 students walk the halls each week. All of them belong to their own set of cultures, with culture including both religion and nationality. A diverse set of clubs are dedicated to celebrating rich cultures of the world. Reggie Lara, social studies teacher and Filipino Club sponsor, said that these clubs help students stay connected to their roots.

“I get to interact with students who either just moved from the Philippines, or students who have really maintained that cultural side of their heritage,” Lara said. “It’s been helpful for me, learning more aspects of my own culture that I never really knew.”

Similar to Filipino Club, Polish club creates a space for students of Polish identities to interact with one another and celebrate their culture. Seniors Monica Siemienczuk and Kamila Babala, president and vice president of the club shared how eye-opening cultural clubs can be.

“It helps you feel connected to your culture,” Babala said. “At school you don’t see a lot of Polish [people and culture] until you are in the club, [but once you are,] you start seeing people in the hallways like, ‘oh [they’re] Polish too.’”

Polish Club is currently preparing an act for V-show, although their plans have not been announced. Siemienczuk and Babala invite anyone to join Polish Club, where they can discover what the club is planning.

“We need new people to join, right now we’re at about 20 [members], ” Siemeienczuk said. “[People should,] to experience what the culture is and learn something new.”

“The club is not just for Polish people, [it is for] people who have any interest in the culture,”  Seimienczuk said. “A lot of people associate a language club or a cultural club with [the mindset of,] ‘Oh I have to be in this culture to join,’ but it’s not like that.”

Within the club, there is a strong sense of family and community amongst the members, Babala said.

“We’re all close friends,” Babala said. “It’s just unconditional love.”

Additionally, some clubs focus on faith instead of nationality. Cornerstone Christian Club, 

sponsored by Bryan Cope, works to connect students of the Christian faith.

I think it’s important that everyone has an opportunity to gather and be with people who share their values and interests,” Cope said.

Similar to other cultural clubs, Polish Club welcomes everyone. Seimienczuk added that you do not have to be part of the culture to enjoy the club.

Members of Cornerstone create a community through their shared faith. They meet to sing and pray together, in addition to participating in other activities.

“[The club] usually includes things like worship songs that are led by one of the students who has a guitar,” Cope described. “The group usually sings together, and [includes] some time for prayer. Kids are sharing [subjects of prayer] per request, or praying for one another in a small group.”

Cope emphasized the importance of having clubs celebrating one’s identity.

“[Identity] should be honored and respected,” Cope shared. “It’s important that we have clubs that give kids an opportunity to express that identity here.”