Celebrating Diversity Through High School Clubs
To celebrate National Diversity Month, NAF student Karla interviewed fellow student, Raymond L., the founder of the Asian Culture Club at their school. Both students attend the Academy of Finance and Enterprise (AOFE) in Long Island City, Queens. A large portion of the school’s population is Hispanic, with 52% of students identifying as Hispanic/Latino.
When Raymond transferred to the school in his sophomore year, he intended to improve the school community. His previous school didn’t provide an inclusive environment and Raymond was determined to make sure he and his classmates could enjoy their high school. One of Raymond’s many goals is to attend Cornell University. He’s interested in hotel management and traveling the world.
Karla: Why did you establish the Asian Culture Club?
Raymond: When I came to AOFE, I realized there were no clubs, so I decided to make one. The summer between my sophomore and junior year, I visited China. I learned more about my culture and explored different cuisines. I contacted Mr. Jiang, a math teacher, and expressed my idea. Mr. Jiang is now the supervisor of the Asian Culture Club.
My goal was to create a space where all Asian cultures could be shared and celebrated. I believe that smaller Asian countries aren’t represented as much and I want all Asian countries to be heard. The vision for the club is also to share my enjoyment of anime and Asian food. I’m really interested in food, so I wanted to integrate that into the club. A fun fact: I’m a home cook. In other words, I love trying to cook new things at home.
Karla: Did you feel underrepresented before you joined the group? Why?
Raymond: I did feel underrepresented before I created the club. The majority of the students at my school are Hispanic and speak Spanish. Our handouts are always printed in English and Spanish, which speaks to how dominant their population is. However, this club is not only for Asian people or people of Asian descent. People from different cultures are welcomed to join the club. We accept anyone interested in Asian culture.
Karla: What do you appreciate most about being a part of this group?
Raymond: I appreciate sharing the culture and Asian cuisine with club members and people in the school. In class, we all do projects about cultures, but we never really go more into depth. The club’s main purpose is to invest more in learning about Asian culture. We’ve created a way to make everyone learn about it through food. The club hosts fundraising events, such as Ramen day and Multicultural day. On Multicultural day, there was a tasting of Asian foods, like squid, starfruit, and candy.
Karla: How has this group impacted your high school experience?
Raymond: This club has impacted my high school experience a lot. It’s a space to hang out with people who enjoy the same things as me. Not only that, but it helped me grow as a leader. Leading this club has expanded my knowledge on how to organize, fundraise, and many other valuable skills.
Karla: Would you join a group like this in college or at a company you work for in the future? Why?
Raymond: I would definitely join something like this at a company I work for. I find it fascinating that there is somewhere you can be excited about different cultures. Especially since I want to dabble in the hotel management career, it’s important for me to know about different cultures.
Karla: What does diversity mean to you?
Raymond: It means knowing about cultures, traditions, and understanding people more. Being in America, an extremely diverse place, people might not know about other cultures or even know all aspects of their own culture. Diversity makes people aware of how others live their life. Diversity helps you connect to people on a different level.
April is National Diversity Month. Invest in the success of our next generation of diverse leaders, by donating your money or time to NAF today!