Europe Club opens minds to the other cultures

When senior Sonia Kahn was studying AP Comparative Government during her sophomore year she saw many students in her class who did not think it was important to learn about other systems of government in other countries.

“I would always hear comments like ‘why does it matter?’ and it bothered me because America is not the only nation on earth,” Kahn said.

“I thought it would be important to learn about other places.”

Europe club is a two year old club consisting of seniors and they focus their study on the culture and governments of European countries.

“I definitely think we should learn about the American government but I don’t think we should exclusively learn [about American government] and we should study other governments,” Kahn said. “We should be open-minded.”

The AP comparative government class focuses their study on the system of governments of Great Britain, Nigeria, Iran, Russia, and China and briefly on the United States.

“We have to study Iran’s government and understand that it’s different and understand why they have that type of government or why Britain has a similar government,” Kahn said.

Kahn said she specifically chose to focus on Europe because she characterizes herself as an Anglophile, which means she loves English culture. She is also of a European descent.

“I think Europe is very rich and we tend to learn about some things about Europe regarding history but we don’t necessarily learn about their culture and that would be interesting to explore that part of Europe,” senior Eden Tadesse said.

“We always learn about Europe as the enemy. This club serves to make [students] more aware because we tend to think of Europe as one entity.”

The group meets once every three to four weeks and the activities differ. Sometimes they hold discussions about the culture and history of a country and other times, they do more entertaining activities having to do with the country they’re focusing on. For example, in September, the club held their own version of the Olympics because Great Britain had hosted it.

The “Europe club Olympics” consisted of trivia on the culture, history, current events and even the pop culture of Europe.

“It’s a lot of arts and crafts and learning about history and around this time, we start helping with review for the AP exam,” senior Alex Winkowski said.

When students are preparing to take the AP exam for Comparative Government, the club holds different activities alongside the normal review sessions held by the government teachers.

“A lot of [students] asked questions so I think it went well…I think people enjoyed it,” Kahn said.

Since the government class focuses on other countries outside of the European border, Kahn said the group faced a challenge when helping students with other countries like Nigeria or Iran since the group is focused on Europe.

The group mainly focused on Russia, the United Kingdom and the European Union.

Kahn said she would like to hold the review sessions this year but with IB exams she probably won’t able to.

Since the club mainly consists of seniors, unless more students get involved, the 2013 school year will be the last year for Europe Club.

“We have a good small group to have open ended discussions about countries…it’s really cool to learn about different countries because some of us don’t have the opportunity to go to different countries and some of the members are from different countries  so they have different opinions so we have a lot of different opinions.”

Club members are searching for students to get involved with the club so it doesn’t end when they graduate- even if the students decide to expand it to countries outside of Europe.

“I think taking over a club for someone else and making it your own would be a great addition to your college application. It shows that you’re more aware of the world around you. Europe is a huge contributor to the U.S.’s economy and politics.”