By Tuesday Bowen and Hanna Kim
Behind the brightly lit classrooms and the green and white halls of Granada Hills Charter High School (GHCHS), an army slowly emerges. Not by any means an army of violence or vengeance, rather an army of different cultures and varied voices.
Among the numerous clubs offered at GHCHS, more and more culture clubs have started to garner attention as students use these meetings to explore the importance of diversity in our school and society in general. In a country that focuses on melting traditions together and adapting to the surrounding cultures, it is easy to lose sight of why culture is so important to us. Culture clubs on campus acknowledge the importance of diversity, while also striving to maintain unity.
Although La Familia is a new club on the official roster, over 100 members attend its weekly meetings. Deviating from standard culture club routines, La Familia provides a mentor/mentee program between under and upper-classmen in order to provide assistance for challenges they may face in a new high school environment.
“Culture is a very good way for many students to orient themselves around academics and to have more motivation to succeed, so I thought combining the two would be a good idea. Back when I was first starting high school, I was lost entirely, and it wasn’t until I started taking the narratives of students like me by learning more about their culture that I was encouraged to adopt a more progressive mindset. Once I had that transformation, I wanted other people to experience that themselves,” founder and president senior Brian Zamora said.
Personal experience allows Zamora to understand the impact culture has on his life, and to those who have been deprived of the experience, how much help it could be. The name “La Familia” reflects his wish for members to use their culture to become a family and be there for each other to get through each and every struggle in high school. If there is one lesson we can learn from La Familia, it is that culture brings people together.
Members of clubs are not required to belong to the culture that their club stands for, as seen in the Filipino Culture Club. Junior and president Sharmaine Sapon aims to teach the Filipino culture to anyone who is curious about the culture.
“We have a welcoming environment for diverse students too, not only for Filipino students. Basically, it’s a bonding club where people can learn about the Filipino culture, meet each other, and have fun at the same time,” Sapon said.
Above all, Sapon wants her members to feel pride in Filipino culture. Their activities, such as sampling Filipino dishes or sharing folktales passed down from parents and grandparents, are all geared towards presenting pieces of a culture to which members might not have been previously exposed.
“I love making people proud of being Filipino. Being cultured is an important value to have as an individual, and if my club teaches people to see this, then it’s important that I make sure as many people are aware about this pride as possible,” Sapon said.
The Black Student Union is the second largest club on campus with over 80 students. It aims to unify students of different cultures and spread awareness of issues within the black community.
Senior Ayomide Adeduro, the president, uses the club as a platform to raise cultural awareness through activities such as bonding games, talking circles, and black art appreciation.
“I would like the community to be united as a whole to learn of and take pride in their culture. I also want people of different races to know about black culture and what it’s like through our lenses,” Adeduro said.
The Italian Club is a culture-appreciation club that aims to give students an environment where others can learn about all different aspects of Italian culture.
President and senior Chantal Serrano gives students the opportunity to explore Italian food and culture, while also inspiring members to study Italian history and the language itself.
“The club is important because it exposes people to more than just the basics. You learn more about Italian food, the language, and the culture and get to become more of a global citizen. The club exposes people to more than what is common knowledge,” Serrano said.
As important as highlighting the current traditions of a culture is, knowing the history is also an essential part of being cultured as well. Junior Isabel Nakoud, co-president of the Middle Eastern Student Association (MESA), emphasizes Middle Eastern history in her club to make up for the absence of extensive Middle Eastern classes provided at GHCHS.
“Compared to the number of Spanish classes we have, there’s a lack of Arabic classes or Middle Eastern history classes. Not a lot of culture clubs in general provide historical background to their cultures either. So, I try to teach history, especially political history because it’s so relevant to the conflict happening there even today,” Nakoud said.
More than anything, MESA strives to correct the media’s portrayal of Middle Eastern countries. For those who do not have direct connection to these countries, their only source of information is sometimes the limited perspective of a camera. This restriction in information often leads to false assumptions about the culture.
“The Middle East is shown negatively in the news so often, so I want my club to teach people that we are more than the political chaos that seems to define us. The culture is still bright and there’s still something beautiful about it,” Nakoud said.