If there is a nationality with more than 10 people at the ANU, then you can bet that there will be a national club or society representing them. Whether it is ANUChile or the Bangladesh Students’ Association, New Zealand Students’ Society or the Chinese Scholars and Students’ Association, national clubs form an integral part of the social, cultural and academic fabric of our university.
However, much like the countries they represent, national clubs vary in influence. A number are quite insular, tending to focus on students from their own country. Others however, have scaled the heights of renown to become some of the biggest names on campus. In the spirit of the theme of this week’s ‘Power Play’ edition, this writer will endeavour to give you a list with the biggest powers on campus, those who are rapidly climbing the ladder and those who while still quite small at the moment, we should keep our eyes on.
Singapore Students’ Association (SSA)
Any list of the most influential national clubs at ANU would be incomplete without the SSA. Their rise to power started at the beginning of 2012 when a new executive, driven and determined, decided it was time to take SSA to loftier heights. SSA’s ascension to the top culminated with winning Best Club of the Year and Joint Event of the Year at the ANUSA Clubs and Societies Awards Night 2013.
Under the leadership of President Muhamad Iswan, SSA has continued their drive for excellence in 2014. While continuing to take care of Singaporean students with careers fairs, orientation activities and their 49th National Day celebration, they have also been heavily engaged with the wider community, especially organising ANU’s biggest multicultural food festival ‘Night Market’, which brought together 26 different clubs and societies and had several hundred people attend.
Hong Kong Student Society (HKSS)
If you want people to come to your party, get HKSS to organise it for you. HKSS is one of the biggest players on campus because the size, enthusiasm and professionalism of their committee is without parallel. Planning for any event will commence months beforehand, with each event assigned a different Project Director. In the immediate few weeks leading up to their events, their marketing resembles an aerial bombing campaign: their posters will be seen absolutely everywhere. When the day of the event finally arrives, nothing has been left to chance. For this reason, HKSS events – from their Welcome Party to Hotpot, Singing Contest to Cocktail Party –always fills to the brim.
While amazing social events are their specialty, HKSS has never been afraid to take the lead in speaking out on political issues or issues concerning Hong Kong. This has included a vigil for victims on the 25th anniversary of Tiananmen Square massacre and a protest against Chinese National Education lessons in Hong Kong secondary schools.
ASEAN Society promotes Southeast Asia in the university community through academic, social and cultural events. While relatively young, having only been founded at the beginning of 2012, it has quickly gained ground and is now considered a rising power among national clubs at ANU. Its journey to prominence has not always been smooth however, with one of its biggest challenges in 2013 overcoming the perception that its events were heavily academic or intellectual.
To combat this, ASEAN Society has undergone a makeover in 2014, actively working with other clubs in large-scale and engaging social and cultural events including Lunar New Year, Night Market, the Eid al-Fitr Festival and Holi & Songkran.
For the first time in history, ASEAN Society successfully organised the Asia Singing Contest, its answer to Eurovision, and will be holding its first formal event, a Cocktail Party with the Hong Kong Student Society and Taiwanese Students’ Association on Friday 10 October. However, it has not lost sight of its original mandate of organising academic events as well as social and cultural. It is currently organising a public lecture on democracy in Thailand with the ANU Thai Association.
ASEAN Society’s journey has still some distance to cover. But it is well on its way up.
Japan Club’s rise in the ANU student community can be traced back to the leadership of former President Akira Kinefuchi in 2013. His determination and quest to make Japan Club an outstanding club has been continued under current President Joshua Pako in 2014.
“Active” is probably understating Japan Club’s calendar of events. Japanese language exchange and movie nights are held every week, and it is no accident that their events, including its Semester 1 Welcome Party, Cosplay Party and Trivia Night, have seen attendance in the hundreds. The success of their events are always the result of long and deliberate planning, innovative marketing and a keen appreciation for what their members want.
What most distinguishes Japan Club from other clubs however, is the sheer diversity of their events. Japan Club doesn’t confine itself to merely doing social events, as safe as that would be. Whether it is playing in softball tournaments or conducting public lectures on Japanese militarism in the 1930s, Japan Club is willing to do unusual events if it sees them as fulfilling its mandate as the “peak student-run Japan-related interest group at the ANU”. And you know what – their risk pays off. They still come out on top. Watch out for Japan Club, these guys are going places.
Indonesian Students’ Association (ISA)
The Indonesian Students’ Association’s rise to prominence in 2014 has been akin to a complete revolution. Last year it was very insulated from the rest of the university. No one outside the Indonesian student community could tell you what was happening with the ISA.
This year under the leadership of President Gatra Priyandita, it has rebranded itself in an effort to not only provide services to its Indonesian constituency, but also to promote Indonesia to the wider ANU community.
With a lot of ground to cover, ISA has wasted no time. ISA has hosted two large-scale events: the Indonesian Charity Festival and ISA Talent Show. It has regular Indonesian language exchange, academic lectures and screenings of award-winning Indonesian films. They are engaging with other student organisations in joint events, including the Eid al-Fitr Festival and the upcoming Southeast Asian Cultural Festival.
Much like the actual Republic of Indonesia, we should expect great things from ISA in the near future.
TO KEEP AN EYE ON
Vietnamese Students’ Association (VSA)
The VSA has been around for some time now, having been formed in 2012. However, its growth in the first 2 years of its history was rather limited, due mainly to a small committee.
However, in 2014 the VSA has regrouped, determined to give Vietnam a stronger voice at the ANU. Their executive now comprises 9 passionate individuals. It has had a complete rebranding, with their committee shirts and new banner making even established clubs envious. They recently fielded a team in the ANU Futsal World Cup, and have participated or are participating in joint events like Lunar New Year, Night Market and the Southeast Asian Cultural Festival. Their Vietnamese language exchange program has just been launched and VSA will be hosting Universal Lunch Hour in Week 5.
If you haven’t heard of VSA yet, take note now, because these guys are going to bring the best of Vietnam to ANU.
Pakistan Students’ Association (PSA)
Under the leadership of former President Iqra Abedin in Semester 1, 2014 and current President Aurangzeb Alam in Semester 2, PSA has been set on a very active path. This has included hosting its Welcome Party, Universal Lunch Hour and Bonfire Night, screening of the T20 cricket match between Pakistan and India, co-hosting Holi & Songkran and the Eid al-Fitr Festival, and participating in joint events like Lunar New Year and Night Market.
Its committee is small but determined, and PSA is going to make sure the Pakistani spirit continues to stay alive at the ANU.
Photos courtesy of ANDALEEB AKHAND