The Scarlet

What’s Up With Culture Clubs at Clark?

Some of Clark's 130 student club and organizations are directed towards expressing various cultures on campus.

Some of Clark's 130 student club and organizations are directed towards expressing various cultures on campus.

Kaiomi Inniss

Kaiomi Inniss

Some of Clark's 130 student club and organizations are directed towards expressing various cultures on campus.

Kaiomi Inniss, Contributing Writer

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With no Greek life or football team, Clark’s campus might appear to the outsider to lack the fervor of typical college social life. However, any true Clarkie would be quick to note that the 130 student clubs and organizations facilitate student social life on campus.  

The International Students Association (ISA), the Caribbean and African Students Association (CASA), and the Latin American Student Organization (LASO) have all seen an increase in their memberships within the past two years. Most of the increase in membership has been due to a large number of students from cultures outside these organizations.   

There is a vast network of cultural clubs on Clark’s campus that serve as a safe space for identifying students, while also providing cultural awareness for the majority of the campus. Recently, individuals not culturally associated with a specific club’s culture have been involving themselves in the organization, whether as general members or by taking on higher positions within the executive board.

ISA has five to seven American, or domestic, students involved in the organization. Paige Pierce (‘21), a domestic student from Connecticut, joined ISA in her first-year at Clark. After growing up in a predominately white, affluent suburban town, and never having travelled outside of the US, Paige said she saw college as an opportunity to expand her knowledge of other cultures.

“I joined because I wanted to learn,” said Pierce. “I joined because I wanted to experience a community unlike my hometown, where I had always felt as though there was so much missing from my life. ISA gave me the opportunity to be part of something bigger than myself.”

Clark’s social scene is shaped by the various clubs and organizations, and some feel that having a friend in an organization is enough to drive more members.

“I was nervous…I felt as though I would not have a place in the community…with much encouragement from friends already in the club, I decided to join,” Pierce explained.

International students have also used Clark as an opportunity to explore cultures outside of their own. Kubahan Giambrone (‘19), a Nepali-Italian student, is part of the European Students Association (ESA) and serves as the Events Chair of LASO.  

“I felt like part of the community through that cultural exchange,” Giambrone, whose native language is Nepali, said. “It wasn’t only them telling me about their culture, but me sharing my culture with them as well.”

Cultural clubs at Clark tend to represent a large swath of a specific region, and not a specific culture or country. As opposed to a Vietnamese Student Association, which would cater to a very specific group, clubs like South Asian Students Association (SASA) encompass larger regions with varying groups of people.

“Even within my own cultural club [SASA], it’s like I don’t speak the dominant language,” Giambrone said, referring to Hindi.  

Brissa Ramos (‘20), a Mexican-American student, is the assistant secretary of the Caribbean and African Students Association (CASA). Her friends encouraged her to join simply to learn more about their culture, but also to join a community on campus.

“I’m not Caribbean or African, but I still joined… I was nervous at first, but I feel like if you can even relate in the slightest bit…or try to understand someone else’s culture – I find that very important,” Ramos said.

Clark’s cultural clubs advertise themselves as open spaces for all members of the Clark community, and students from various cultures are eager to share their culture and experiences.  

Ghanaian student, Ayebea Larbi-Tieku (‘20), explained that any discomfort is worth the enjoyment of cultural exchange through these clubs. “For me, like, I feel I don’t mind because I feel like it’s a great opportunity for them to learn about my culture and I love sharing my culture…it’s a great opportunity for both me and them.”

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What’s Up With Culture Clubs at Clark?