Clubs Online

Libby Kramer

One of the first things that I noticed last year as a freshman at Southwest was that no matter the time of day, 7 a.m. or 7 p.m., there was always something going on at school. There was a club, a sport, rehearsals, or some other activity. Now that Southwest is almost completely empty for many hours of the day, I wondered: How are all the clubs and activities doing? How do you do Model UN online? How has the pandemic impacted all of our extracurriculars? 

Southwest’s Green Team is a club that has been doing everything they can online. They still hold monthly meetings, movie nights, and feature new speakers at every meeting. And of course, they have continued the mug contest. The co-presidents, Mia Nelson and Gwen Lindberg, have done a lot to keep our Green Team as familiar and interactive as it can be on a Google Meet. An advantage to meeting online is that the speakers have been more available to come to meetings, and they have been able to hold meetings with people thousands of miles away. Speakers this year have included Southwest alumni, members of the Sierra Club, and college students majoring in environmental fields. The accessibility of video calls has also made it possible for more people to go to meetings, increasing attendance to about 50 people at each meeting. However, the co-presidents did note that even with more people in the club this year, there is a lot less participation. “It’s been really cool that we have had more people consistently coming because even if there isn’t as much participation, it’s exciting that people care,” said Gwen Lindberg. Gwen and Mia also mentioned that they miss the snacks and that chance to get to know everyone in the club. It was more of a community when Green Team could meet in the commons and people could sit with their friends in a welcoming environment, spending time with people that have the same passion for helping our planet. However, Green Team has still been doing the most important thing while online: getting people together to learn and work to address the climate crisis. There are also a lot of fun things coming up this spring for Green Team, and hopefully they will be able to do some in-person activities outside, especially for Earth Day.

Southwest’s Asian American club is another club that has continued to meet once a month even during online school. Similar to Green Team, the Asian American club has had speakers come to their meetings, from alums to a London-based author. They have also been having discussions about subjects such as the recent increase of hate crimes towards Asian Americans, and how there is a lack of Asian American history taught in schools. Board member Billy Lee Buccella said that he misses going to events like potlucks and getting to enjoy food as a club. He also said that it has been harder to connect with people when it is online, which is one of the best things about clubs. Similar to a lot of other clubs, they have been doing what they can to help with this disconnect; for example, they have done some get-to-know-you activities and asked ice breaker questions, but it still hasn’t been the same as an in-person club. Billy said that his favorite thing about the club is “having a space to openly communicate and share about everyone’s different cultural background and the yummy food.” Asian American club has also seen an increase in participation in their club now that more people can come to the meetings, due to people generally having less busy schedules, and they are going to continue having monthly meetings and talking with speakers for the rest of the year.

Model UN is yet another club online, and it is functioning very differently from previous years. Model UN is one of the biggest and most popular clubs at Southwest, mostly due to the exciting in-person conferences. Going to Chicago and New York for Model UN is a big pull for the club, and of course, now that we are in a pandemic, that isn’t happening. However, Model UN is definitely still going strong. Earlier in the year, the board was trying to figure out what the club was going to look like this year, and they spent their bi-weekly meetings talking about global issues. Then, come December, the board found out that they would be able to attend virtual conferences, and this year Model UN will be attending the same number of conferences that they did last year, one of which Southwest is hosting. Although the club has seen a large decrease in numbers, from the 150 people who went to Chicago last year to this year’s forty, there are still a lot of people participating and staying engaged with Model UN. Emi Gacaj, Model UN’s president, said that while doing things virtually is the best and only option they have, it’s just not the same. “Virtual just doesn’t compare, it is fun, but it’s nothing like the real thing and being in a room with 200 people working on solutions and doing real stuff.” Emi said that one of the hardest things is not having any idea who the people are in your club, and that is a really big difference in online vs in-person clubs, “It’s hard when you are like ‘I don’t even know these people’ … not knowing who we are talking to or teaching.” While the best parts of Model UN are the in-person conferences and being in the room with people solving the issues, they are still trying to create something that reflects that in some way. The club has a lot of cool things in their future, and the conference Southwest is hosting this spring should be a big boost for them.

The Navigator is also doing our best to make the school paper efficient and fun online. Madeleine Martin is the managing editor this year, which is a challenging job as the managing editor does a lot of connecting and talking with the people on the newspaper. The Navigator is also a relatively small and young club at Southwest, which has made it challenging to get publications out. The Navigator still meets once a week on Thursdays to talk about announcements and story ideas. Similar to all the other clubs, the editors of the Navigator have found it hard to connect with people and have good communication with everyone, which is really important in a newspaper. The point of the Navigator is to connect with the students and everyone in our community at Southwest, something that has been a huge challenge to do online. As Madeleine told me in our interview, “It has been harder to communicate with people, and that is what a paper wants to do. The goal of our paper is to connect the student body and get to know our communities more, and it is difficult to get to know your communities when you don’t know who is working with you.” Like the other clubs, the Navigator also has a lot of really fun things to look forward to in the spring and in the following year. Next year there will likely be a journalism class offered, and Madeleine is set to become executive editor, and hopes to release a publication every quarter.

Throughout this past year, it has been difficult for people to connect with their peers, and many students miss being at in-person club meetings with people who share the same interests and passions as them, but Southwest’s clubs have all been doing their best to try and keep going online. As a result of online school, many have been more active on social media, so be sure to go check out the clubs’ Instagram accounts to keep up to date, and get ready for club sign-up next year.