Homesickness: A club's remedy
During Club Awareness Day, which took place on main campus on March 28, the quad hosted much more than just clubs scouting new members. There were also small groups of international students concentrating for the purpose of letting other students like themselves know they are there to support each other while promoting a club.
Many international flags, including those of Brazil, China, Japan, and Korea, were raised. International students wearing Kimonos and Hanboks moved around, trying to entice students to learn either their language or about their culture. But they also wanted to attract a certain demographic of students similar to themselves: other international students who have left their homes and families to study.
The late former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela once said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” The intention of connecting through language can become an obstacle for students who can better convey themselves in their own native tongue.
There are many differences between all students. Some are learning English as a second language and come from different cultures. Some are members of religious minorities, which can become a significant factor as to why students can or cannot bond with each other.
The culture and language clubs in Santa Monica College (SMC) search to satisfy students with the need to connect with other students like themselves. In some cases homesickness doesn’t mean home, it can mean a language or lifestyles that has been left behind. Students who are facing a separation with a while culture seek to learn and fill that void.
“They speak my language! They speak my language!” a woman said with excitement as she talked to someone at the Pan African Association table, where students of color wore golden crowns and large smiles. The President, Yusef Brooks, shared a testimonial of Meilat Dagnew who said, “Obviously this is nowhere close to home, but it's comforting being in a club with majority of students being homesick…I personally got to build a second home here with people from all over that have the same experiences. It's crazy how alike we are in the most random of ways, while still remaining completely different.”
Clubs like the Adelante club, a social congregation of students who speak Spanish and/or are first- or second-generations in the U.S., use their club to re-create celebrations like Día de Muertos, Cinco de Mayo, and Afro-Latino Day. “We use the time to discuss how Latinos are represented in media, how our culture influences our perspectives and decisions. [We examine] the similarities between people from different parts of Latino America.”
There are students who travel long distances to go to Santa Monica College. Some leave their homes and move out for the first time, traveling from different cities, states, and even countries with the hope of starting a new chapter in their lives.
Excitement can fill a young mind with the dream of being independent and making their own decisions, yet an unexpected problem surges in the first few months of starting college: homesickness.
Most individuals are struck with a series of symptoms when leaving their homes and families. They miss familiar faces, places, smells, and tastes. In a way it isolates a student when far from home. This is a reason why clubs like the International Student Forum, the Pan African Student Union, the French, Spanish, German and Scandinavian clubs are so popular: they help students cope with the familiar feeling of homesickness.