The Korean American Student Association (KASA) at Cal Poly acts as a shield from culture shock for its members who come from predominantly Asian areas.
“A lot of my friends from high school told me specifically not to come here just because of the culture-shock,” sophomore KASA member Michael Yiu said.
Yiu comes from San Bernandino Valley and an area which is mostly Vietnamese and Chinese.
“But when [students] discovered KASA, that was when they started to feel comfortable,” sophomore KASA president Joonwoo Bae said. “It is like KASA is a shield from the shock for them.”
A lot of what helps KASA act as a “shield” is because of the sense of family and community the club offers.
As President of KASA, Bae has to gather all of the board members, which include titles such as social chair and cultural ambassador, and plan out the club’s events in an organized manner. He also has to hype up the club’s events in order to motivate people to go to them.
“My job as president is not supposed to have a special skill it is more like a glue stick for everyone,” Bae said.
Club events is specifically where members bond with one another, creating a stronger community.
“The most that I can do in my opinion is to set up a platform or an event where people have an excuse to come out and meet other people,” Bae said.
The very first event that Yiu went to for KASA was when they were giving out boba and playing a game called Codenames. That game “spiraled me” into becoming more “extroverted” because the game made him communicate with his teammates and other members.
“Afterwards, I went to another event and another event,” Yiu said. “As you get to know the people better it is much easier to be more extroverted.”
According to Bae, one of the club’s main goals is to provide social aspects to its members.
“As you spend more and more time with your club and board members you grow really close to them and form this solid community,” Bae said. “Naturally KASA becomes a family.”
According to Yiu, Bae must be comfortable enough to introduce himself to anyone as he is the figurehead of the club.
“You have to give [members] a sense of belonging inside the greater community,” Yiu said.
While Bae lacks experience as club president, as this Spring quarter is his first quarter being president, Yiu believes that he has done a great job.
“If Joon is around you know that you are going to have a good time regardless of what you are doing,” Yiu said.
Members such as Bae have created a comfortable comfortable for Yiu since everyone is “very helpful.” But the club itself really changed Yiu as a person.
“I was super introverted when I was in high school but going through the club phase my freshman year has made me become more extroverted and comfortable,” Yiu said. “I have to thank KASA for that.”