By Gina Samec
Whether you end up in overwhelmingly large lectures or in a dorm where everyone seems to be doing different things, finding a community on campus can be challenging. In high school, I was only involved in one club because of my busy schedule and I figured college would be even busier. With this in mind, I wasn’t sure if I would have time to be committed to a club. However, I’m glad I didn’t let this concern stop me. Clubs have heightened my college experience by introducing me to people I would have never met otherwise. Being of mixed race and raised by a mother who didn’t pass on the Japanese language to me, I have felt very disconnected from my ethnic identity.
Joining Nikkei, social and cultural Japanese club, was my first attempt at connecting with my lost culture. “Nikkei” means Japanese emigrants and their descendants; and the name is appropriate, as I have met many great people with varying degrees of connection to the Japanese culture. In addition, I joined Mixed SC which is a club for people of mixed race. It was so refreshing to see a room full of people that somewhat looked like me. One topic of discussion was which race we identify with more, if it is equal, or if we feel like either. I usually don’t have these types of conversations so I was excited to find a space where I could. Unfortunately, not every ethnicity is represented in the clubs available on campus. I have friends who are in this boat and it can feel isolating. On the upside, every club, including those of a specific ethnicity welcome students of any background with open arms. For instance, I have been going to a Filipino club with my friends, one of whom is Filipino, this spring semester. The first time I went, I had this feeling that I shouldn’t be there. However, by the end of the meeting, I realized how approachable and accepting everyone was. No matter what, people are just happy that you want to be there.
It is also valuable to not shy away from clubs you wouldn’t join at first glance. One day I was scrolling through Facebook when I saw a post for free boba at a club meeting. To be honest, I did not notice what the club was and was only motivated by the boba to attend. This club turned out to be IVTCF or Intervarsity Trojan Christian Fellowship. My family, myself included, has never been religious and I have in the past labelled myself as atheist and then agnostic. By the end of the meeting, I found that I had never met more friendly people who were accepting of the fact that I wasn’t religious. I am still a part of the club to this day.
Another great aspect of clubs is the age range within them. Knowing upperclassmen is a helpful way to informally have mentors who can give you advice as you go through college. Some clubs like Nikkei have a Big/Little program to guarantee a way to receive guidance from someone older than you.
While it can be easy to get caught up in your studies or a good Netflix show, it can never hurt to get involved on campus. Clubs are a great resource and provide a support system of people. So either try your best to walk by tables at the next Involvement Fair or look online for what’s out there. Besides a degree, the best thing to walk away with from college is a network of people who you can also call your friends.
Featured image from Wikimedia Commons
Gina is an undeclared sophomore interested in Communication and Public Policy. She attended five schools but mostly grew up in Piedmont, California. Although she only attended a French bilingual school for two years, she has continued to pursue fluency in the language. She loves playing volleyball, watching movies, and thrift shopping. Never having left the country has fueled her love for learning about other cultures and meeting people from different backgrounds.