Clarkie of the Week: Crystal Fam

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By Anna Spack 
Scarlet Staff

Crystal Fam is a senior at Clark and the president of Clark’s International Students Association (ISA). She is from Singapore and is double majoring in Communication & Culture and Geography. I interviewed Crystal about her amazing work with ISA and her general involvement around campus.

Scarlet: What does ISA do? What is your role as president of ISA?
Crystal:This is my fourth year being on ISA. Our mission is to help cultivate a sense of diversity and cultural awareness and to spread that around the Clark community. Clark has a very diverse student body, so our role is to help bring together people from different backgrounds, cultures, and religions to celebrate those cultures and spread cultural awareness. We hold events like the Clark World Cup, and next week we’ve organized International Journey Week, a week full of events and workshops. On Sunday we have an art show that showcases students’ art from their different cultures, and on Monday we have two workshops with professors on religion, diversity, and things like that. We’re also showing a screening of the film Life in a Day, which is a project put together by YouTube to celebrate diversity. Basically YouTube got a lot of its viewers to spend one day videotaping their lives, and then they edited it and put it all together and made it into a movie. It’s great because you see a lot of laughter, happiness, tears, grieving, and love in all parts of the world. I think it kind-of aligns with ISA’s mission of celebrating diversity.

Ultimately our goal of International Journey Week is to bring everyone together to celebrate diversity through food, so we have [the event] International Journey Food Fair, which is the finale of the week, on Thursday. Students from different countries represent their countries through food. They teach the Clark community about their cultures through pictures and food; it’s basically an international food fair and it’s all funded by ISA.

Our biggest event of the year is International Gala, which will be on March 22. That is the craziest, busiest event we have, and probably the biggest event that any group of students undertakes by themselves. The ultimate responsibility for the event relies on our club. Everyone has their own role, and it’s amazing to see how ISA works through all the logistics and details of the event. But it also comes together not just through ISA but through the students who perform, students from all over the world. There are students who are international and students who aren’t, all expressing something through culture. For example, you may have people from all cultures performing an Indian dance; they may not be Indian but they may just love and appreciate the culture. That’s what we do in ISA; we try to get students to express cultural diversity.

Scarlet: How did you first get involved in ISA, and how did you end up becoming president?
Crystal: Just like any other first-year I came in and tried to get involved [in clubs]. I signed up for probably five different clubs, thinking that clubs have a certain level of commitment but not a serious one. But I realized I needed to commit to one club, not partially commit to a bunch of clubs, even though I was truly interested in other clubs as well. I chose ISA because I think it really encompasses a lot of my interests. Through ISA I was able to mingle not just with Asians and not just with Americans, but with people from the Middle East, which I learned a lot about. I also enjoy the community, the family you become a part of when you join ISA. I like to think we are very inviting, and that’s because of the nature of our club’s many different cultures. I looked at the president my first year and I thought, Wow, I would love to be in that position. Then sophomore year the president was amazing too, and junior year one of my best friends (who graduated last year) was the president and she was great too. I wanted to be able to teach first-years and other students about leadership. That’s my goal as president, to extend the legacy of leadership.

Scarlet: So you like being president?
Crystal: I love it. And I have so many people supporting me. I definitely do not make all the decisions. We have the e-board, then our higher e-board that takes on bigger leadership roles closer to what I do. I guide the club in the direction it should be going in, but every single person in the club is necessary and crucial to the events we take on.

Scarlet: How else are you involved on campus? Are you in any other clubs?
Crystal: Well, being in ISA takes as much homework as another class, sometimes more. But I like to expand myself not just on-campus but in my own personal life as well. So I am supervisor of the University Center, which means I’m in charge of supervising the Information Desk. Everyone you see working there, I make sure they’re on schedule and on task. I work for the Events Planning office and I go there at least three hours every day. It’s kind-of my way of stepping into the professional world. As students, we’re not just encouraged to get involved on campus; I think we should also experience life off campus, more like the working life. I really enjoy that.

I also recently adopted a puppy from a shelter, so that’s been a handful as well. A lot of me isn’t just what I do on campus, it’s what I do off campus as well. I volunteer at the Woo Church down the street as well, and there are other little things I do – nothing permanent, I just volunteer when I can at events that come up every once in a while. And when I go back home I do a lot of volunteering there too. I find that when I volunteer with people from my home country I can connect better with them.

Scarlet: Is there anything else you want to add?
Crystal: Well just something interesting about me… I’m what you would consider a third-culture kid. The definition is basically a child who’s grown up outside of their parents’ culture. I am from Singapore but I only lived there for six years, then I moved to Indonesia and lived there for seven years, then I moved to Thailand and graduated from high school there. That’s probably another reason I love being on ISA, because one culture just isn’t enough for me. There are a lot of people like that here at Clark, and meeting them has really helped me.

Thanks so much for the interview, Crystal!

For more information on ISA and International Journey, visit ISA on LINK .