The struggles of starting a club during quarantine

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Photo courtesy of Emily Tsu

The pandemic has altered the way students interact drastically, including the way clubs are run. Emily Tsu is taking advantage of Zoom to try and get her new club off the ground, but it’s been a difficult process.

Imagine. It’s your junior year of high school and you’ve spent the last two years of your life waiting for this moment- the moment that you would have the chance to start a club. And then, like a ton of bricks crashing down on all of your dreams, you, and the rest of the world is struck by a global pandemic. What do you do? How does this change things? You wait a few months, since it doesn’t seem like this “pandemic” would last more than that. You wait and you wait until you realize that this thing isn’t going away. Now you’re left with an opportunity to build a club on Zoom. Will you take it? Or will you give up on the idea since it “won’t be the same”? This was the question that junior Emily Hsu faced in March of 2020.

It all started at the beginning of quarantine when Hsu was presented with the opportunity to bring Embrace Ausome, an amazing non-profit organization focused on breaking the stigma around both mental health and disabilities to WJ. At first, Hsu was a little hesitant since she had never taken on such a prominent leadership role.
“Before this year, I wasn’t much of a leader, I was more of a follower,” Hsu said.

But when she started thinking more about the cause and the impact that she could have on the WJ community, it was a no brainer that she needed to take the opportunity. And so she did.

At first, she didn’t really know where to start. With a pandemic at its early stages, nobody knew what to do. So she waited until there was a clearer idea as to how she would start the club. Since Hsu was all alone in the making of the club, she knew that a leadership team needed to be the first step. So, Hsu created an Instagram account and started to advertise leadership opportunities for the club. Google forms were sent out and people applied. As the ball started rolling, things got a little more stressful as the idea of starting a club became more and more real.

However, two weeks before the start of online school, Hsu finalized her team. Although things felt a little more organized with the help of her peers, things were still really stressful. And because of the pandemic a lot of opportunities disappeared.

“We didn’t really know how to charter the club and everything was really unclear… Creating activities for each meeting was especially hard because we had originally planned to reach out to a special needs school to work with but because of the pandemic we couldn’t make it happen,” Hsu said.

The pandemic made everything harder for everyone involved in making a club at WJ during this time. OperationSmile at WJ, another club that was born during COVID-19 had very similar issues.

There was also a lack of motivation on the part of other students to turn up because it is on zoom which is hard when people have been on zoom all day”

— Margaret Georgiev

“Gaining student interest for the club was very difficult. Advertising on social media is very limited. In school, it would’ve been a lot easier. There was also a lack of motivation on the part of other students to turn up because it is on zoom which is hard when people have been on zoom all day,” President and junior Margaret Georgiev said.

Despite the setbacks, club leadership teams have been very resilient and have come up with all sorts of ways to get the word out about their clubs. WJ Immigration Advocacy Club, a new club at WJ focused on fundraising for immigrants in the area has been very resourceful.

“We made voter guide pamphlets and hung them around different neighborhoods in order to educate people on the importance of voting. This month, we plan on participating in a restaurant fundraiser,” Co-President and senior Alejandra Romero said.

Throughout the next year or so, WJ club leadership teams such as Hsu’s will be making many important decisions. If school returns and the administration allows for it, many clubs are going to have to decide whether or not they would like to integrate some in-person meetings into their weekly schedules. For right now, however, it appears that most leadership members have agreed that they will be taking every precaution necessary to ensure the safety of their members and if this means remaining entirely online, most are absolutely fine with that.

“I think that we can find ways to work with the online format. Breakout rooms have been really useful and I think that features like this can be taken advantage of to make each meeting flow a little better. It’s definitely more difficult than it would have been in person, but we will do anything necessary to ensure that people can attend exciting meetings every week,” Hsu said.

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