By Sujeeva Kanagaratnam
Edited by Baaba Annan
One of the many great things Staten Island Technical High School has to offer is its clubs. The FUBU (Friends United Blacks United) and Hispanic Friends clubs are two of which that promote diversity and educate students on other cultures. Their performances in the multicultural show are very popular, but there is more to the clubs than that. I asked club presidents, Baaba Annan and Isuri Poththewela, a few questions about their experiences with their respective clubs.
Senior Baaba Annan, the current club president of FUBU, has been a part of the club since her freshman year at Tech. I asked Baaba what drew her to FUBU and what she liked about it her freshman year. She answered, “I liked how it was really diverse. A lot of people think FUBU is only for black students and it’s really not. The great thing about FUBU is that it Friends United before Blacks United so the point of the club is to share your culture with your friends. I know a lot of people who were in FUBU freshman year were interested in learning about black culture and being a part of it somehow. That’s what I liked the most.” Baaba believes the main goal of the club is to not only share her culture, but also allow the students in the school to experience something different. Black History Month is FUBU’s “time to shine”, as they host the annual BHM assembly, and perform in the multicultural show, with Baaba as the host. “If my peers are learning something new, and enjoying the experience, I know I’m doing my club justice,” Baaba said.
Senior Isuri Poththewela, the current president of Hispanic Friends, has been a part of the club since her sophomore year. Isuri says she wanted to be president because she knew it was important for Spanish culture to be represented in this school. Since Isuri is not Hispanic herself, I found it interesting how passionate she was about the club. When I asked her about her motivation to join Hispanic Friends she said “I joined Hispanic Friends sophomore year. I had heard about the club in the announcements and wanted to learn more about Spanish culture. My friend was already a member in the club and invited me to sit in on one meeting and I loved it and have been a part of the club since.” The Hispanic Friends club’s multicultural performance is known for bringing the classic rhythms, instrumentals, and dances of the Hispanic culture to Tech and enhancing the audience’s experience. “The club brings a culture that is not prominent in our school atmosphere and helps everyone learn about it ,” said Isuri.
This year, the clubs have combined to bring stronger coalition together for raising diversity awareness and educating the students on both cultures, since they are connected in many ways. This is in hopes of increasing interest in the clubs and enhancing the fun educational experience. My second question to both Baaba and Isuri was what their goals are for the clubs before they graduate. Baaba responded saying “My goal is to have people know the club and want to be a part of it. That’s every club’s goal obviously, but it’s important because FUBU can’t serve its purpose without having people in the club willing to dedicate themselves and their time to educating the students about African American culture.” Isuri answered “My future plans for the club are to bring a greater sense of Hispanic Heritage to the school.” At the end of the day, the goals are the same. The purpose of cultural clubs is to acknowledge different ethnicities and influence the knowledge of new ideals and traditions, and to encourage students to experience something different. These two clubs do a great job at serving their purpose.