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WA Ghostwriter

The student news site of Westford Academy

WA Ghostwriter

The student news site of Westford Academy

WA Ghostwriter

International Club is a direct flight to happiness

Provided by @wainternationalclub on Instagram
International Club poses for a picture at a club meeting after learning about South Africa.

Every other week, Room 129 transforms from a standard classroom into a hub of cultural diversity and joy. This is the home base for the International Club, a group of students dedicated to sharing their unique backgrounds and learning about diversity. It’s a place where friendship knows no borders, and learning about different cultures becomes a fun, enriching experience.

WA’s International Club brings together students of all nationalities to learn about different countries at their meetings. They learn about the country’s culture, language, religion, environment, and more, through slideshows, discussions, snacks, cooking, games, and crafts. Founded five to six decades ago, the International Club has been a staple at WA as one of its oldest clubs. It was first formed when WA started working with the agency AFS Intercultural Programs, a youth exchange program that has helped international students travel to WA.

“[AFS] said, ‘You have exchange students, so you should have an international club’ so that the exchange students can have their own club,” club adviser and German teacher Tim Welch said. “That was many decades ago when Westford was not a very diverse place. Back then, [everyone in Westford] was all the same race and looked the same, so it was important to start this club.”

Currently, the club still serves as not only a great opportunity to have fun and learn about different countries, but also a place where international exchange students can check in and share their cultures. In addition to exchange students, the cabinet members present different countries at every meeting and are open to having other club members present their countries.

“We like to have the exchange students present so that we can learn more about what their country is, instead of us presenting it ourselves,” junior and vice president Kanishka Murugalingam said. “With people who have experience in a different country, it’s different because living in that country is their day-to-day life. What a person from that country knows [can be] completely different from our research. We can always research but that will not do as much justice to the country as the person who lives there [would].”

When international students are not presenting, the club members often learn about countries that have a connection to the present, such as focusing on Ireland when it is close to St. Patrick’s Day. At the end of each meeting, the club members decide the country they will learn about the following week. The cabinet members try to choose countries from different continents each week so that there is more diversity.

“An old German teacher started the club because living in Westford, we have a decent amount of diversity in our town, but there’s still a lot of identities that people are not educated about or exposed to,” junior and club president Alyssa Duronio said. “So I think that this club is just a fun way to learn more about how the world works outside of the bubble that is Westford.”

Although Welch is the advisor for the club, Murugalingam, Duronio, and junior social media manager Karen Wong make up the cabinet. They complete many tasks such as creating presentations and Kahoots about countries, communicating with other clubs for collaborations, and advertising the club meetings with social media posts and posters.

“One of my personal goals is to do more with other clubs,” Wong said. “There are so many opportunities we could do if we went outside just International Club, and collaborated with other clubs.”

Some of the countries that the club has learned about this year include Mongolia, Greece, Sri Lanka, Columbia, and South Africa. With each country, club members often get a taste of the country by trying snacks that are from it, such as goat milk candies from Mongolia.

“I joined in sophomore year and have been part of the club for two school years. I found out about it because [Welch] is the advisor and I take German. And then I came to the club and I just thought it was really fun,” Duronio said. “I genuinely enjoyed getting to learn about a new country every week. I always learn something new and after learning about a new country I haven’t been to, I want to go there for my next vacation.”

The club has many goals for the future, such as collaborating with other global school organizations like the language clubs, South Asian Student Association, and Asian Culture Club. They hope to take a field trip at the end of the year to an international restaurant and have more fundraisers, as their main fundraiser is the Holiday Bazaar, a community event that takes place every December at WA.

At the Holiday Bazaar this year, the club will be returning with this tradition: setting up old-fashioned stocks that people can have their friends go into. For every dollar or two that someone pays is a minute in the stocks.

Overall, the atmosphere at the International Club is one that many members look forward to at the end of a long school day.

“It genuinely is a lot of fun. It’s just a relaxing club environment and a nice, enjoyable thing to do after a day of school. It’s fun, and you definitely come away from it learning something new that you didn’t know fun,” Duronio said. “So it’s a good experience all around.”

Make sure to follow International Club on Instagram @wainternationalclub

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About the Contributor
Grace Hsu
Grace Hsu, Features Editor
Hi, my name is Grace Hsu and I am a sophomore as well as one of the features editors of the Ghostwriter. This is my second year on the paper and I joined because I like to read and write. In my free time, I like to listen to Taylor Swift and spend time with my friends and family. I also swim competitively and I love to go to the beach. I'm looking forward to another great year!

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