For nearly all of my life, I’ve been in schools where Asian American/Pacific Islander (AAPI) students have been the minority. As an Indian-American student, this meeting was a refreshing break, where I’m not a small minority in a room of mostly White people. Though the club is mostly focused on advocacy work, anyone could make a social circle entirely within the various projects that AASI has started. Also, any non-AAPI people concerned with issues such as ensuring AAPI history is taught in Virginia’s schools would probably find this to be an amazing club.
On the evening of September 13th, 2022, I was walking from Improv Theater auditions to Archery Club’s interest meeting when I spotted a large group of Asians out of the corner of my eye. Ordinarily this wouldn’t be very surprising, but I knew that weeknight evenings at the beginning of a school year are prime times for club meetings. I had to enter Archery Club’s meeting before I got to ask the group what club they were part of, but luckily it turned out they weren’t starting their meeting until after Archery Club’s meeting ended. Once Archery Club ended, I walked across the piazza on the first floor of Chancellors, and once I entered AASI’s room, I was immediately struck by the huge number of people crowded into it. There were at least 60 people in a room meant for closer to 40! That’s still a lot more space per person than you’d get in an Indian city, but it’s not something I’d expect here at W&M!
There were a few big things besides raw numbers that stuck out to me at the interest meeting. First, and arguably most important, was that anybody was welcome, even at a club specifically dedicated to AAPI issues. There was actually a White person on the exec team! Some other clubs would automatically say no to any person running for exec who was not in their target ethnic group, but the fact that AASI would accept anyone showed that they were dedicated to inclusive ideals. Second, when people were presenting their projects, they sounded extremely passionate. Some other advocacy clubs are a lot more reserved in their presentations, but one could see the fire in the AASI presenters’ eyes. Lastly, partly due to the large size of the club, their projects seemed very organized. Some smaller advocacy/service clubs will have their projects fail to execute well due to a lack of manpower, resources, or time, but it seemed like AASI’s projects were having significantly less of those issues.
To recap: AASI was quite a nice experience as an AAPI student myself, but I think people of other ethnicities could easily have a blast too. In addition, the presenters were quite passionate, and the manpower that AASI could dedicate to its initiatives seemed like it could lead to greater chances of success.
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