By Denny Cheong
Last Tuesday after school, I had the opportunity to take part in one of the Discussion Club’s meetings: Not really my own decision, as my friend forced me to go to there, but it was a decision I don’t regret.
As it was my first time being in a meeting, Tomek J., one of the leaders of the Club, briefly explained what the club was about. “In the ASW Discussion Society, students with different cultural backgrounds discuss the current issues in the world ranging from politics to economics to health to social issues,” Tomek said.
Thankfully, it was a familiar setting as I was back in Mrs. Hermes’ room, where I take Econ. However, the room was rearranged where the couches and the sofas she had in the classroom made a circle, making way for the members to sit. As I sat down–to my surprise–all 6 members were familiar faces from 12th grade; none from the lower grades. And of course, Mrs. Hermes was there, as well, to supervise.
“Prior to the meetings, the members of the group will vote on what issue they want to discuss,” said Tomek. “Members are also expected to gather some knowledge on the issue before the meeting. The discussions consist of a brief explanation of the issue for those who might not fully understand the topic and then we would proceed to the discussion.” He then ensured me that everyone would have the chance to voice their opinions.
To start the meeting, Annie W. (12) started passing papers with today’s topic: the difference between patriotism and nationalism. It was a new experience for me as everyone pitched in their thoughts, bringing in personal examples that made it interesting to listen to.
As it went on, we ended up talking about how nationalism is expressed in different cultures. Listening to Sid R.(12) talk about how the Indian caste systems affect the way in which people behave with one another was captivating. Mrs. Hermes also pitched into the conversation, stating her views and her experiences with nationalism and patriotism, which helped make the discussion go more smoothly.
The discussion in the club was extremely enlightening and provided an open atmosphere, where everyone was able to state their views and their experiences. Although there were some awkward pauses here and there, I really enjoyed the conversation we had there. Honestly, it made me a fan of the whole idea of the club.
However, looking around the room, I realized that there were relatively few people involved. In my opinion, more people should join this activity, especially people from the lower grades.
Tomek says, “We welcome all students to join our discussions as the more voices we get, the more enriched our discussions become.”