Affinity group leaders walk through meeting plans

COLLABORATORY+COOKING.+Asian+Student+Alliance+and+Muslim+Student+Alliance+team+up+to+host+a+potluck+for+its+members.+Foods+including+jiaozi%2C+Ethiopian+flatbread%2C+and+more+were+brought+and+cooked+live+for+members+to+savor.

Annie Bai

COLLABORATORY COOKING. Asian Student Alliance and Muslim Student Alliance team up to host a potluck for its members. Foods including jiaozi, Ethiopian flatbread, and more were brought and cooked live for members to savor.

It’s natural to want to make friends, find a community, and to feel included as a part of a group. Affinity groups have weekly meetings that allow students to comfortably discuss their common experiences, hangout, and eat snacks. But what goes into planning these weekly meetings?

Juniors Baasit Mahmood, Humza Murad, and Wafa Naqvi are co-leaders of the Muslim Student Alliance (MSA). Aside from the regular meetings during tutorial, they have separate weekly calls and meetings to plan activities for their group. “It’s a lot of sending emails, organizing events, and just trying to think about what we can do to make our regular meetings more fun” Naqvi said.
It’s all about finding the balance between having entertaining yet productive meetings, “While we want meetings to be fun and relaxing, we don’t want to waste people’s time, which is why it’s important to build all the relationships that we can.” Mahmood said.

MSA strives to create a space where students can talk and share backgrounds to make the SPA Muslim community feel like a much closer unit. “We also wanted to make it because there are a lot of Muslim students in the middle school, and we want those kids to have a place to go to once they do eventually make it to the upper school.” Naqvi said.

MSA is currently planning a food sale that will take place sometime in October or early November. “The funds collected [will] be donated to an organization to provide aid to the floods in Pakistan, something that has been going on for a few months now. The food would be from various regions such as Egypt, Ethiopia, Pakistan, etc in addition to some baked goods,” Mahmood said.
The Black Student Alliance led by seniors Maya-Coates-Cush, Milkii Tigro, and Maya Ketena, also aims to plan celebrations for Black History Month and Martin Luther King day. Although they don’t have many members, they hope to create a strong community within the group. “We strive to create a space where black individuals can feel comfortable and confident expressing themselves in a predominantly white institution.” Coates-Cush said.

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We hope to foster an inclusive and comfortable environment for adopted students’ growth, sharing, learning, and self-discovery.”

— Nora Shaughnessy

Aside from affinity groups based on race and ethnicity, SPA also has the Love & Grace affinity group for adopted students run by junior Nora Shaughnessy. “We hope to foster an inclusive and comfortable environment for adopted students’ growth, sharing, learning, and self-discovery.” Shaughnessy said.

She wants the group to talk about life and to be low-key about it. “My main goal for the adoptee affinity group is to help guide and understand students to ask those serious questions without pausing and feeling shame.”

There are difficulties when running a group without student co-leaders, “You have to be extremely patient and flexible with the people in your group. “Last year, we thought it would be best to share a specific time for everyone to come and meet, but we’ve soon realized that people won’t be able to join that exact time due to meeting with teachers or catching up with homework, especially because the meeting takes place during tutorial time on Fridays.” Shaughnessy said. Before the year ends, Love & Grace will host a party with snacks and games for its members.
SPA has affinity groups for all students that are looking for a place to share common experiences or simply to just have fun and eat snacks.