It’s no secret that COVID has changed the last year at Bellevue College. Now we all study and work at home as we wait for life to return to normalcy. But what about the Bellevue College clubs?
Fortunately for Bellevue College students, our clubs have been very alive and active, with online meetings, events, and more. Possibly the most active is the Asian Pacific Islanders Student Association, or APISA. From cultural lunches to movies, APISA has done their best to keep students engaged.
“Doing all these events and keeping students constantly ‘busy,’ we have actually grown,” said Jordana Maciel, the coordinator of APISA. “We have been able to reach many students that might not go to a club meeting on campus. We have had some events with over 100 people attending.”
APISA had a fairly easy time transitioning to being fully online, too.
Maciel reported, “I believe we transitioned very well in all events. Every quarter with the support of API students, Global Leaders, ISA, International Education, and the support of our wonderful API staff and faculty (special thanks to Pavy Thao, Nora Lance, Leslie Lum, Belle Nishioka, and Nan Ma), APISA comes up with over 50 events. Some events are a little more expensive, and due to logistics many times we can’t do an event like we want, when we want, but we keep on trying and doing our best to bring students [the] opportunity to engage and have fun.”
The Arabic Culture Student Association (ACSA), too, has been active as well. Abdulmajid Ali, the coordinator of ACSA, said, “I organized one of the weekly cultural lunches with the International Student Association, educating club members on Somali Chai, and another on the Iranian New Year (Nowruz) and its Haft-sin table. We have fewer members because we have been having difficulty recruiting due to everything being online. However, due to more events each quarter, there is a consistent increase in involvement.”
Bellevue College has inspired new clubs to blossom as well. Dmitrii Fisenko created the Entrepreneurship and Personal Development Club to keep students inspired during the pandemic.
“Unfortunately, I feel like a lot of students have this misconception that diplomas will show them the way to follow,” Fisenko said. “A certain percentage of students don’t know what they want to do in life for various reasons. Their parents, or any other social group they are in, is pushing college as a go-to solution. Nowadays, there are tons of opportunities for much cheaper ways to obtain skills for your dream career, but not a lot of people see that yet. Clubs can be a way for students to start asking themselves those needed questions, such as ‘Who am I? What do I want? What truly makes me happy?’ They will not necessarily point students to answers, but they can make them start this journey of understanding themselves and choosing a life they want to live.”
Despite all of the ways clubs have been flourishing and adapting to our new normal, there have been downsides to being exclusively online.
“Due to the pandemic, we have communication virtually, which limits club executives and members’ connections,” Ali said.
Fisenko reported an issue unique to beginning a club during the pandemic.“We had two main problems: a new club and the pandemic. On the other hand, we tried to find a way to make [the] pandemic serve as our advantage, by building a new system of event planning and organization, instead of trying to move the existing system online.”
Despite their differences, all three clubs shared the same sentiment: being online is not the same as seeing people face-to-face.
“I miss being able to hang out with others since talking to a screen is less fun,” Ali said.
Maciel seconded this. “I’m a very people person, so I miss real in-person interactions.”
But even with the ever-pressing loneliness the now-one-year-long quarantine has brought Bellevue College students, clubs are trying their best to stay connected, inspire one another, and learn. Even with distance learning, there are still many activities for students to engage in. Most importantly, we are all in this together.
If any of these clubs interest you, their contact information is listed below:
Entrepreneurship and Personal Development: