‘Chopstick Seminar’ Invites EHS to Experience Asian Culture


Caspar Dowdy, Editor-in-chief

After the last bell rang on Friday afternoon, the scene was that of a typical day’s end. The hallways emptied as students poured into the parking lots and rushed into the weekend.

In one third-floor classroom, the opposite was happening. Students were arranging desks into a wide circle, food was heating on tables at the front and an episode of Nahnatchka Khan’s “Fresh Off the Boat” was just beginning.

It was the start of the Asian Cultural Club’s “Chopstick Seminar,” the club’s first major event since starting in February. For club leadership, though, it was the product of months spent wishing for more opportunities to highlight Asian culture at EHS.

“…we had been poking at the idea [of starting a club] since October of last year,” junior Ivy Lin said. “Around the time, I’d really started developing my personal identity, and also noticing the lack of ethnic community in both our school and the general area.”

After hearing people online talk about cultural clubs at their schools, Lin worked with her friends to create their own. Since then, for some of its members, the club has been a place to celebrate an identity that often goes unexplored.

“It’s helped me understand that my culture can be something that’s talked about and not really just pushed off to the side,” junior Ela Pananon said.

In a school community which, according to Illinois Report Card, has only a 2.8% Asian population, organizations like ACC allow students with similar backgrounds to connect with those who can understand them.

“It’s kind of nice seeing other people, and it’s like, ‘Someone said this to me. Wait, someone said this to me too!’” junior Zoe Roney said.

With bright red posters around the school advertising food, trivia and prizes, Friday’s seminar was a way for the club to introduce students from across EHS to Asian culture — and a way for the new club to introduce itself to EHS.

“Asian Club hopes to create a welcoming and enriching environment for not only our small Asian population but all students,” Lin said.

With the school year coming to an end, the juniors at the head of ACC are looking to next year to expand their club’s reach.

“I want to get more involvement in the group. We have a pretty small group this year, it’s our first year,” Lin said. “There’s, I feel like, a lot of shy Asian students that we could definitely use in the club… like, we’re here for you.”

By holding more events like Friday’s and starting new initiatives, like a series of “country of the month” posters, the group plans to increase the presence of Asian culture at the school. In doing so, the club hopes not only to educate others, but also to strengthen the support system they’ve built so far.

“I think it’s important to highlight culture to show that people are different, and that it’s okay to be different. You don’t need to try to make everyone the same,” Pananon said. “And it’s also okay just to have a group to have people to relate to you in ways that other people can’t.”