Tag Archives: community

Expand your Network by Joining Clubs on Campus

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.

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Island Girl Takes Big (Foreign) City

By Connie Choy

In spring of 2013 I decided to move away from home for the first time and live in one of the busiest cities in the world: Tokyo, Japan. Although it has been four years since my five-month trip I am constantly finding myself reminiscing about the unforgettable times I had with the lifelong friends I made.

Conversely, even with all of the happy memories I will never forget the challenges I had to overcome when I first got to the big city. Just to put things in perspective, I’m from Hawaii (Oahu island specifically), which has a population of about 1 million people. Tokyo is approximately home to about 14 million natives and transplants – that is 14 times the size! Moving away from home on your own, especially in a foreign country is a very difficult thing to do, but I believe it will be one of the most formative experiences of your life. Notably, my hardships were what pushed me into a mindset that yearned for adventure and growth.

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The Lehigh Prison Project

By Ross Rozanski  

It was a Thursday and, like many of my afternoons, I was volunteering and making an effort to help out my community. My student and I were at a small wooden table looking at sentences from a workbook, identifying grammar mistakes.

“This is a run on sentence,” he said.  “Correct!” I applauded.

“That word needs to be capitalized,” he went on. “And you could put a comma there.”

But this is where similarities between my normal tutoring sessions and this particular experience end. You see, I wasn’t in the classroom of a middle school or some hall in the local YMCA. There were no windows. My student was wearing a brown jumpsuit. There was a police officer standing by the door. I was in a prison.

Last fall, at the university I attended before transferring to USC, I joined the Lehigh Prison Project. Completely new, this program took ten students each week to Northampton County Prison in Easton, Pennsylvania to assist prisoners who were working towards obtaining their GED. But not just anybody could join. Before joining the ranks of prison tutors, I had to have my fingerprints taken, go through various security checks, and have my name looked up against national security databases. The head of the education program within the prison made it clear we would only be working with the prisoners in brown uniforms, and specifically only with prisoners that wanted to be in this particular educational program.

All prisoners at Northampton County Prison are assigned one of three colors for their jumpsuit, dependent on the severity of their crime. Brown was for the lowest offenders, and represented minor crimes associated with finances or contract infringement. The next level was orange, followed by red. In the five months I tutored in the prison, I only caught a few glimpses of red uniformed prisoners, but that was enough for me; the prisoners wearing red were murderers.

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