By Mia ’21
The first time I went to an affinity group club meeting was in seventh grade. It was my
first club meeting ever at Harvard-Westlake, a momentous occasion. I remember sitting with my friends in Saperstein Theater, whispering through the morning announcements until I heard The Announcement. Imagine a spotlight on the seventh grade Mia sitting on the balcony with all of the other seventh graders when suddenly, the camera slowly focuses in, and the background noise fades. That’s how I like to describe the first time that I heard the announcement to ‘Come to AACC!!!!! (Asian-American Culture Club, as it’s called at the middle school).’ I’m sure in reality I probably just half-gasped, half-choked, and poked my friend sitting next to me, but that’s beside the point. Basically, I was sold from that first announcement.
Approaching the club was less movielike, more nervous girl walks nervously back and forth in the Wang hallways until she convinces herself to walk in. But I did! And I’m so happy that I did. From that first meeting, I was sold on the idea and necessity of a club like this, of the type of space that was created for students like me. A place where my background, my culture, my experiences were met with hums of recognition and murmurs of empathy. The first time that I spoke in an all club meeting and discussion, there’s only one description for what was coursing through my veins. Power. I felt powerful. (Power like Joe Gardner performing in Pixar’s Soul, not like Mac Lord in Wonder Woman 1984). Uplifted by this sense of belonging and community that I never understood that I needed, I knew that I would stick with this club for a long time.
And I did! In ninth grade, I became the leader of AACC. When I went to the upper school, I
repeated the whole process again. I am currently the leader of Asian Students in Action (or
ASiA). My sister is currently the leader of AACC at the middle school 🙂
So, what do we do? At the upper school, my co-leaders and I have structured our
meetings into a revolving four meeting topics. Number one is education, so most often
something that is related to current events or something that we should learn. These have
included a discussion of the Model Minority Myth, discussions of the impact of hate on
Asian-Americans, and we are currently planning one on how to be a better ally to our fellow
Black peers. The second is community outreach, so fundraising and community connection
galore. The third is team bonding, so discussing our own family traditions or cultures and talking about representation! And the fourth is a committee/event-based planning meeting, such as planning for a speaker or an event.
And our impact truly reaches out to the whole school. Without getting too much
off-topic, our engagement as a community only works as we work for an equitable community for all students at Harvard-Westlake. As a leader of ASiA, I attend biweekly Student Leader in DEI meetings and am involved in various related initiatives, such as one that allowed me to plan an all-school small-group discussion about race and identity. I truly feel passionate for myself, the students, HW’s community, faculty, and administration in building a community that I am proud to call my own.