Clubs allow students to celebrate culture

May 26, 2017 — by Patrick Li and Muthu Palaniappan

Reporters cover cultural awareness clubs like ICAC and the Korean club.

As the curtains lifted on the McAfee Center stage on Feb. 17, blue and pink spotlights illuminated a group of 30 freshmen excited to participate in their first-ever Bombay in the Bay performance as part of the Indiana Cultural Awareness Club.

ICAC is one of seven cultural-related clubs on campus, but it is the most visible and most numerous with 258 participants.

The club started during the 2001-2002 school year by alumni Swati Balakrishnan.

The annual Bombay in the Bay show brings in hundreds of participants from inside and outside the school Indian community. This year, there were as many as 100 students who performed in the show from all grades.

Senior club officer Karan Desai also noted how the show brings other ethnicities together to learn and share Indian culture through the Bollywood music, cultural costumes and quirky skits surrounding Indian folk tales.

For example, junior Andrew Zheng participated in the performance. He enjoyed spending time at practices with his friends and found it as an outlet to relax. In addition, Zheng did not let the cultural barrier stop him from participating, but rather found it as a way to learn more about Indian heritage.

“The fact that [Bombay in the Bay] mostly consists of students of the Indian heritage doesn’t bother me,” Zheng said. “I still enjoy practicing and performing with my friends.”

Another club that strives to celebrate its culture is Chinese Club, founded last October by juniors Nathon Chin and Nicholas Di.

To teach students about the Chinese culture, the club sets up projects such as making Chinese calligraphy and playing with “jian zi,” the Chinese version of hacky sack. The club attracts members by giving away free “Asian jellies” every meeting. Chin and Di also plan to make club T-shirts to give Chinese Club a bigger presence on campus next year.

For its part, Korean Club is relying on weekly meetings where members learn Korean music, language and play traditional games.

The club attracts members through word of mouth and the many fundraisers they have throughout the year.

Members meet weekly and discuss trends in Korean culture like K-Pop music or K-Dramas.

Besides talking about what’s hot in Korea junior member Jane Lee said the club examines traditional foods and games as well

In January, Korean Club teamed up with Chinese Club to create a school-wide festival celebrating Lunar New Year.

During the Lunar New Year celebration, students were able to participate in traditional games like “tuho,” where participants throw javelins into a bin. The winners were awarded with Korean snacks.

Chin added that the celebration served as a good way for students to escape the stress at school and enjoy the culture. The event showcased the unique aspects of Asian culture that many students are unfamiliar to and allowed them to learn more.

“I think if we lose out on our cultural identity or fail to show how our culture truly is, we lose part of ourselves and who we are,” Lee said. “It's definitely important to represent one's culture, especially in a school where there's so much diversity.”