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The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

Affinity club leaders balance fun and serious topics

The South Asian Student Alliance celebrates Holi, the Indian festival of colors, in coordination with other affinity groups, including the Asian-Pacific Alliance Club.

The beacon of positivity affinity clubs act as is burdened by the frequent acts of hate taking place across the world. This leaves affinity club leaders in a position where they need to balance their hopeful messages with the realities of society.

Gender-Sexuality Alliance (GSA) co-facilitator Ezra Weintroub joined the affinity space in 2020 looking to forge a friendly yet serious and driven community. Queer People of Color (QPoC) faculty adviser Laura Honeywood got involved in the creation of QPoC out of interest in creating a space for intersectional identities. Finally, South Asian Student Alliance (SASA) co-president Dhevin Nahata was drawn to the club by its alignment with his personal identity and the opportunity it provided to spend lighthearted time with friends while still considering issues facing the group and its members.

One thing that all of these affinity club leaders have in common is that they felt an attraction to their corresponding clubs based on complex subjects that they hope to see solved by a combination of fun and determination to navigate the heavy subjects their affinity groups deal with.

One way that GSA tries to find this balance is by hosting events throughout the community. Later this month, they will host a “Friendsgiving” in partnership with the Asian-Pacific Affinity Club (APAC) and other affinity clubs to create a space for people to get together and share a joyful experience. This will be building off of the annual Day of Dialogue that GSA hosted last year, which delivered a platform for members of the LGBTQ+ community to have their voices heard and share important experiences with their peers.

As a leader of the GSA, Weintroub said they try to balance the different qualities of a successful leader.

“I try to be very welcoming to people, like saying ‘Hi’ and remembering their names,” Weintroub said. “I also have to sometimes be a little harsh on people if they do something I feel jeopardizes the safety that we cultivate in the club. That can be a little bit tough, but in those situations, I just have to be very serious and crack down on it.”

Honeywood said QPoC has felt and acknowledged the need for balancing joy and pain in school events. In their group discussions surrounding the upcoming Unity Day sponsored by the METCO, some participants have expressed concerns that events focused on queer communities and communities of color often center themselves in pain, rather than highlighting the joys of their identities. As an adviser, Honeywood acknowledged the importance and beauty of harnessing this balance in meetings.

“I think that the impactful moments [in these meetings] have been getting to know people and their identities. Things that have gotten deep,” Honeywood said. “It’s cool to connect with people from totally different identities about the identities where you intersect.”

Nahata strives for this balance in SASA by matching the focus he puts on celebrations with community building through school-wide celebrations like Diwali and Holi. In tandem with these celebratory moments, Nahata also tries to create an environment where serious and unfiltered emotions can be expressed.

“We try to provide a space where people can feel free to share their feelings about their culture and about what’s going on around the world,” Nahata said.

Weintroub, Honeywood and Nahata all said that the need for clubs to be tight-knit and well-informed is very important: finding the right balance between the two is a difficult and unquantifiable science. However, they believe the foundation of this perfect balance rests in the community.

“I think that the most important thing is to create a space and that community,” Honeywood said. “So when an event happens, there’s already a network of support in place.”

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