DESA: AB’s Newest Affinity Group
BY SOPHIA SAGHIR '24
Follow the aroma of samosas and the distinct Bollywood melodies, and you just might stumble upon the newest affinity group at ABRHS: DESA! In Sanskrit, “desa” means land, place or region; it is the root word for “desi,” meaning “our people,” which describes people of South Asian diaspora. As a South Asian alliance, this club provides a safe haven for South Asian students while also educating others about their culture.
This January, the club was formed by Shrinithi (Shri) Kumar ’23 and Srinidhi Thirumurugaram ’23, two seniors who came up with the idea during the ABSEJ event at NARA Park last spring. As they heard a representative from Dear Asian Youth (DAY) give a speech, they realized that although DAY put its best efforts toward inclusivity of all Asian cultures, properly recognizing every label was too difficult given the club’s broad coverage. They noted that a number of their events were centered around East Asian culture, and while that was no fault of DAY, it was simply reflective of its members’ ethnicities. As a result, the two decided to create a space for South Asian students to discuss their specific experiences at AB and to celebrate their identities. Srinidhi added that “regardless of religion, regardless of what country you came from originally, regardless of what grades you might receive in school, whatever it is that oftentimes we see our parents discriminating against, this club is open to all.”
Shri and Srinidhi explained that the meetings have greatly varied in structure and purpose so far. The first few meetings focused around community building; the club played games and posed various icebreakers to strengthen that aspect. Recently, members have shifted to focus on new goals, like addressing public issues, hosting community events, and discussing how to structure their events in the future.
Overall, they emphasize that DESA is welcoming and casual, so the meetings are generally relaxed. Still, they made it clear that the club is prepared to speak about any relevant current events--both at the local and national level if the need arises.
Shri and Srinidhi acknowledge that although both of them are Indian and Hindu, they don’t want DESA to revolve around any specific identity; therefore, they want to ensure a variety of South Asian cultures and religions are represented throughout the events held. Currently, they are planning an event at Lower Fields to celebrate Holi, the Hindu festival of spring, love and a new life. There will be henna stands, traditional food, and colored dye throwing as the main attraction.
Want to join? DESA meets on Tuesdays from 3–4 pm in room 126E! Email Mr. Lewis (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Mr. Green (email@example.com) with any questions.