New clubs: Asian culture and bonsai love


At KO’s Club Fair, held on Friday, September 27 during PLB, KO students were able to hear from club leaders about their clubs. Two clubs that gathered a large amount of interest from the student body were the Bonsai Club, led by senior James Ravalese, and the Asian Culture Club, led by sophomores David Shi and Charles Zhao.

James got the idea to start a bonsai club from his brother, who ran one in his senior year.
“I always thought it was a really cool idea and have always wanted to do something like it,” James said. He realized he only had one year left at KO and figured this year was the perfect opportunity to start it. “I wanted to make [senior year] count,” he said.

Bonsai is a Japanese art form that involves trimming, pruning, and wiring the leaves and branches of a small tree that is kept in a small container, to create a tree that mimics the appearance of a larger tree, on a smaller scale. To many, the practice is calming and allows time for contemplation. While many people thought the club was meant to be funny, James is serious about his commitment to it. “I think that the art of Bonsai is very interesting and I feel more people should know about it,” he said. James said he hopes to create a low-stakes environment for people to hang out and learn how to take care of a Bonsai tree. He also plans on having the bonsai club work with the green team to promote environmental awareness and an appreciation for nature.

With the Asian Culture Club, David and Charles hope to increase the community’s knowledge of Asian culture, address stereotypes and misconceptions, and talk about the issues that affect Asians and Asian-Americans. “Obviously, it’s a large part of my heritage,” David said, “but because of the cultural assimilation my parents went through, my experiences being an Asian are much different than someone who actually was born and raised in China, like Charles.” David and Charles note that, while Asia makes up a very large proportion of the world, in both landmass and population, there is a general lack of knowledge about it, how diverse it is, and how people there lead their lives. “We want to give students a more comprehensive view of Asia,” David said.

David and Charles also hope to discuss and shed light on what they call the ‘Bamboo Ceiling,’ which refers to barriers that exclude Asians and Asian-Americans from executive positions, based upon the belief that they lack skill in leadership and communication. Related to this are stereotypes about Asians’ and Asian-Americans’ skills in mathematics, and the ‘model minority’ myth. “A discussion on this would entail a talk about the history of Asian immigrants in the U.S. and other countries,” David said.

David and Charles said they see a lot of things to look forward to for the Asian Culture Club and are excited about the future. They brought on Chinese teacher Ms. Ma as their faculty advisor, and want to hold a series of discussions on topics ranging from the Hong Kong protests to the cultural differences among the many Asian countries. Both clubs are already off to a great start, with both experiencing a high level of interest from KO students, and are both looking forward to a great year.

If you have an interest or passion that you would like to turn into a club of your own choice, be sure to find a faculty advisor, set up a meeting with Dean of Students William Gilyard, find friends to join, and spread the word about your club!