In February, multiple clubs at SIS introduced new and returning events. The outbreak of the coronavirus has led to the cancellation or postponing of several club events outside of school, such as the annual Model United Nations conference in Beijing or the annual HSSC Snowball dance. However, many SIS organizations have remained active within the school community. Ranging from Valentine’s day events to new fundraising efforts, student-organized events have continued to engage the SIS community beyond academics.
“Although coronavirus has certainly posed many challenges in our event planning, particularly with Snowball, I think that living in fear of the disease is a backwards way of thinking,” said Younchan Hwang (11), HSSC junior council member. “That’s why, even though Snowball has been temporarily postponed, the HSSC is trying to stay active at SIS through events like Valograms.”
Many clubs targeted Valentine’s day for promotional activities. The Gender and Sexual Awareness (GSA) club renewed its Matchomatics survey from the previous year. For a 3000 won fee, students fill out a 30 question survey and are paired with a “soulmate” or a friend match from SIS of any prefered gender. The HSSC also joined in the festivities by reviving its Valograms event. Although the HSSC did not host a Valograms event last year, they have done so in the past, such as in the 2017-’18 school year. Also costing 3000 won, students may write a personal message on a hand delivered bag of sweets to send to friends or secret admirers.
“[GSA] wanted to switch up ways we raise money, compared to a typical bake sale or pizza sale,” said Minyoung Huh, president of GSA. “Last semester we actually donated around $1000 to a homeless LGBTQ+ youth organization in Seoul. They provide counseling and shelter for LGBTQ+ teens that don’t have homes. Homelessness rates for LGBTQ+ teens are usually disproportionately high, often due to reasons such as a non-accepting home life. The shelter we donate to works on finding these teens who don’t have a place today, providing food, clean amenities, shelter, and counseling for them.”
February also saw the return of Random Acts of Kindness’ (RAK) RAK week. The bi-annual event returned from Feb. 10 to Feb. 14, and aimed at creating a kinder, more wholesome school community. Popular RAK week activities, such as Gongcha sales during activity period, were revived in hopes of reducing student stress. During RAK week, every high school locker received a hand-folded origami rose and heart-shaped post-it notes with positive messages were posted around school bathrooms, mirrors, and walls. RAK also introduced new events such as partnerships with the GSA club in order to hand out free candy.
“Our school is very focused,” said Carly Santos. “A lot of the issues that come into my office are about stress, coping, time management, study skills, and trying to be yourself while still being compared to everyone else. I think RAK week adds a bit of an element of fun. School includes social aspects. To a certain degree, it includes feeling connected to your community or impacting others in ways you might not expect.”
Clubs also innovated in fundraising techniques over the month of February. The Green Club simultaneously raised funds and promoted environmentalism through the sale of Hydro Flasks, a popular brand of reusable metal water bottles, and succulents, miniature cacti-like plants. In addition, the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) implemented new bake sales. Both clubs will be donating to wildlife relief organizations in response to the recent Australian forest fires. The WWF will also be knitting pouches for koalas or other burned animals to donate to Australia as well.
“Financial support is obviously important in combatting the Australian fires, but they aren’t the only way to help wildlife,” said Evelyn Hur (11), WWF executive. “When [the WWF] brainstormed how to best help animals hurt or displaced by the fires, we realized that while countless organizations and clubs were donating money, few were donating goods like blankets or other important materials. As a result, we decided to incorporate both bake sales and knitting events in fighting the Australian wildfires.”