Club bridges intercultural connections in the upper school


Alexandra Cardwell

The room buzzes with excitement as IC plans SPA’s first Indigenous Peoples’ Day Assembly. Faculty and student leaders alike agree that recognizing the mistreatment and discrimination of Indigenous Peoples in the United States and honoring their roles in society is extremely important.

Intercultural Club has been creating new opportunities this fall to support different cultures and educate the community about the various identities represented in the building. Additionally, they have much more student and faculty involvement this year, impacting how they approach their responsibilities and grow their club.

Intercultural Life Program Specialist, Alexis Irish, is among the newer faculty advisors of the club. For the 2021-22 school year, one of Irish’s goals, “is to have IC be the hub […] that is able to speak for everyone and make sure that everyone feels included. It’s kind of on IC to make those connections happen,” said Irish.

In the past, the club has connected the school through assemblies, and they plan on continuing this throughout the year. Irish hopes that IC can play a more educational role so that the community is more aware and well-versed in the culture and identities of others. For example, Irish hopes that the group can help students learn the cultural significance behind celebrations and not just see them as days off of school. As for her role as a faculty advisor, Irish considers herself the “liaison between admin and faculty, but also [works to consider] what the students want,” said Irish.

IC’s student leadership has a focus on navigating the SPA experience through an Indigenous lens [in this year] of rebuilding.”

— Clea Gaïtas Sur

Junior Clea Gaïtas Sur is one of IC’s student leaders. This year she is a co-president alongside junior Maya Coates Cush. “IC’s student leadership has a focus on navigating the SPA experience through an Indigenous lens [in this year] of rebuilding,” said Gaïtas Sur.

In this sense, the leaders of the club hope to rebuild intercultural connections in the upper school and attendance in meetings, as they lost many members last year. Part of the reason for the loss of members was the lack of in-person meetings and events last year. IC is hoping to bring back past traditions, like different cultural presentations and assemblies, in addition to trying some new things, including more open dialogue between students and guest speakers.

Reflecting on the pandemic, Irish views this year as a new opportunity. “People haven’t been together. There’s people that are showing up as different people. [IC wants] to honor and recognize that some of us are coming back from dominant culture homes with a dominant culture school, and there are some people who were not part of that. And it’s just a great chance for us to switch it up” With the opportunity of all being in person together, IC hopes to have more assemblies throughout the year,” she said.

By having both student-led presentations and assemblies led by special guests, it “allows [the community] to think outside of our perspective and challenge what we know as the norm at SPA,” said Gaïtas Sur.

In the upcoming year, IC already has plans for an Indigenous Peoples’ Day speaker, more interactive meetings, and goals of educating the whole SPA community. To learn more about IC and their objectives for this year, attend one of their meetings in the tenth grade World History room during club-designated x-periods.