NSU has added yet another club to its list of organizations in the last few weeks: the Karen Student Club. This club will serve to make both NSU and the Aberdeen community aware of the Karen culture, a subculture of the nation of Myanmar, or Burma.
Most students and community members have no idea that members of this culture attend NSU, and the Karen Student Club’s mission is to change that while helping others realize how precious this culture truly is.
The initial catalyst for this club was student Su Hlaing, who now serves as its president. When she first came to NSU, she was the only Karen student on campus. Now, there are a total of six Karen students, and they recently teamed up to form this club.
Hlaing explained that the Karen culture is very special, and many people do not know why this nationality now resides in the U.S. In fact, all of the Karen people in the U.S. are refugees, victims of one of the world’s longest-going civil wars. Hlaing came to the U.S. at age 10 to escape the conflict. She hopes that this club will inform Aberdeen citizens and NSU students alike about how hard it has been for her people while simultaneously introducing them to Karen culture.
People often assume that she and her fellow Karen students are from either China or Korea, and it can be frustrating not to be recognized for your own nationality. She hopes that this club will change that.
The Karen Student Club had a booth at Culture Fest and holds events such as “Karen Night,” during which students can eat traditional food and play traditional games — and maybe even check out traditional clothes.
Other Karen Student Club officials include vice president Pe Pet Hlaing and faculty advisor Stacey Schmidt. For students interested in more information about joining this club, Hlaing advises they should attend any of the club’s events on campus or contact Stacey Schmidt at: email@example.com.
It is Hlaing’s intent that, as the club grows, it will reach out beyond Northern State’s campus and into the rest of the Aberdeen community in order to spread the word about this unique culture.
Annika van Oosbree