International clubs begin with community interaction

An international community: Isaac Carbello, Law El Doe and Asad Asif are three of RBHS’ 52 English Language Learners, part of the reason students here are interested in international issues. These boys discuss customs in Lilia Ben-Ayed’s class.

An international community: Isaac Carbello, Law El Doe and Asad Asif are three of RBHS’ 52 English Language Learners, part of the reason students here are interested in international issues. These boys discuss customs in Lilia Ben-Ayed’s class.

Alyssa Sykuta

An international community: Isaac Carbello, Law El Doe and Asad Asif are three of RBHS’ 52 English Language Learners, part of the reason students here are interested in international issues. These boys discuss customs in Lilia Ben-Ayed’s class. Photo by Kat Schultz
Two new clubs, Interact and the International Cultural Club, base themselves on reaching out into the community to connect with others through service projects and friendship. The Interact program is an internationally-recognized organization to encourage youth between the ages of 12 and 18 to reach out into the local and worldwide communities.

Stories such as those of students traveling to South Africa to administer polio vaccines compelled juniors Nahush Katti, Sumidha Katti, Ipsa Chaudhary, Maddie Magruder, Rasheeq Nizam and Robert Benad to introduce the idea to Columbia high school students.
“The point of the club is that it’s not just a high school club,” Chaudhary said. “It’s a community club. It’s not going to be ‘the Catholic students are doing this,’ but it’s all these young adults making an effort together.”
The Interact program encourages their clubs to organize two service projects per year: one project for the local community and another that promotes international understanding and goodwill. Because the club intends to involve students from high schools in town, the group will meet once a month at the Hampton Inn by the University of Missouri—Columbia.
“We decide [on the projects] as an entire group,” Katti said. “That means that Hickman people would come up with some ideas, Rock Bridge people would come up with some ideas and Douglass people would come up with some ideas. These projects are on a large scale. So for
example, the international project is going to take a lot of time and preparation to come up with that and then raising all the money for it.”
Though Interact will receive financial assistance from the Rotary Club of
Columbia, Mo., the club intends to hold fundraisers to come up with the rest of the money to fund an international trip. Past international projects of chapters of Interact have ranged from building desks for impoverished students in India to donating relief containers to earthquake victims in El Salvador. Katti said one group in Tennessee has “been around for quite a while, but their fundraising is like they have community dinners … Obviously we can’t do that right now, since we just started, but maybe in the future we can do something like that.”
A second new club, the International Cultural Club, enables students to interact with peers from around the globe.
“International students typically don’t have U.S. friends,” ELL teacher and club sponsor Peggy White said. “The International Cultural Club is for students who are from other cultures to hang out, relax, and get to know their peers from other cultures. Then hopefully some students from the U.S. will also be interested in meeting them. So it can provide an exchange between international students and U.S. students.”
The club plans to meet once a month to play games, such as bowling, chess, soccer and outdoor activities. White said the group meetings will be “informal and totally social.” Members are enthusiastic about the future of their club. Students interested in how people live outside of the United States are able to join.
“If you’re interested in other cultures [and] you’re really interested in making friends with someone from another country then this is a good way to do that,” White said. “It’s something different than meeting them in class. It’s a different way of interacting with them.”
By Alyssa Sykuta