Interact Club: Preparing for the upcoming year

Officers focus on building connections inside and outside of the club for members this year

Photo+by+Justin+Rajah+%2F%2F+Used+with+permission

Photo by Justin Rajah // Used with permission

Ishaani Dayal

As students filed into the choir room at lunch on Monday, Sept. 16, senior and President of Interact Allison Wu floated between groups of students, ready to introduce the club to a group of potential new members.

This year marks the beginning of Wu’s final year in Interact — as president of a club now, she has been very involved since her freshman year. Wu remembers her first experience with Interact, after she had decided to follow one of her friends to their interest meeting out of curiosity.

“The first meeting … I just found that all the officers were so kind and so passionate,” Wu said. “You could see their passion — they were super kind to everyone, and I immediately felt welcome. You could see the bond that they had with each other. And I immediately knew that I wanted to be a part of that, especially with, coming into high school [and] so many changes, I wanted a solid place where I could go.”

You could see their passion — they were super kind to everyone, and I immediately felt welcome. You could see the bond that they had with each other. And I immediately knew that I wanted to be a part of that…”

— Allison Wu

After spending her freshman and sophomore year at Lynbrook HS, Wu moved to MVHS in her junior year. At LHS, she participated as part of the International Project Committee (IPC) as a freshman and served as secretary-treasurer her sophomore year. Wu didn’t let moving schools stop her from becoming Vice President of Interact upon arriving, and is now concluding her experience with the club as the President in her senior year. 

Even though Wu has only been a part of MVHS Interact for a year, she feels that her experience at LHS has helped her bring new perspectives and further the club at MVHS.On top of the connections she established within the club, Wu appreciates the diverse experiences and new lessons she has learned.

“Living here, we’re in such a bubble, and we really only really realize so many things,” Wu said. “And even though it is in the Bay Area, [Interact] does expand your point of view a little bit more [to] how different people are living and the areas that they live in, and just the different cultures in different areas in general.”

Wu’s favorite experience with Interact is the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) camp that happens every summer. Wu was nominated to attend, and enjoyed the bonds she made there. Alongside RYLA, another one of Interact’s conferences is the Fall Leadership Conference (FLC), one of the larger and more popular meetings for multiple Interact clubs across different schools. English teacher and club faculty advisor Lynn Rose looks forward to FLC the most during the school year. 

Wu (right) poses with her friend at RYLA. Photo by Justin Rajah // Used with permission

“[Interact] announces their international project and also the community project for the year,” Rose said. “And so it’s always fun to see what that is and all the kids coming together, and it’s all about service. So seeing that many teenagers together interested in making their community and the world a better place is really cool.”

Rose attended FLC each year she was advisor, and this is her third year working with Interact. She and her family members have always been involved in Interact — her father is currently a member of the Rotary Club, the adult organization that oversees Interact, and her daughter was President of Leigh High School’s Interact Club last year. Additionally, Rose was also an active member of her own high school’s club. She believes that her past and family affiliation with Interact was a big reason why she took over for the previous faculty advisor.

“[Being faculty advisor requires] a lot of coordination,” Rose said. “For the most part, the officers take care of all of that, but there’s a lot of a lot of working pieces. It’s hard as an advisor to know everything that’s going on. So I have to rely on the officers to make sure that they communicate those things to me.”

Rose has gotten to know the current officers, including Wu, throughout the past couple of years working with them as well as the officer meetings that began at the start of this school year. After getting to know the officer team and their goals for the upcoming year, she has established her main goal for this year: to spread the inclusiveness beyond just the club leaders and to every member of Interact.

“I think bonding at meetings is something that I’d like to work on,” Rose said. “Interact members who are not serving in any role, official role, [should] still feel like active and important members of the club.”

Wu agrees with Rose that connection is a big part of Interact, but also believes that it is just as important externally as internally. While she does consider it a priority for members to feel like they belong, Wu also strongly believes that the diverse connections members can make with the people they meet outside of Interact is a core component that shaped her experience with the club.

“I’m meeting people who don’t go to school with [a majority] Asian population,” Wu said. “People with different cultures and different backgrounds, I’m learning from those people, even if they’re just friends [or] acquaintances, if I’m not working with them as officers. Just getting to know people in general, I’m really grateful for all the connections that I’ve made.”

Senior and Vice President Nayana Balasu echoes a similar sentiment about the communication skills the club has taught her. Balasu finds what she has learned from Interact, in terms of networking and meeting new people in other Interact clubs, to be unique and rewarding.

“I absolutely love [Interact],” Balasu said. “It’s been my most favorite club on campus. And I’m a part of three or so. It’s been a great experience. I’ve met so many people from so many different schools, and I honestly wouldn’t give it up for the world.”

I absolutely love [Interact]. It’s been my most favorite club on campus. And I’m a part of three or so. It’s been a great experience. I’ve met so many people from so many different schools, and I honestly wouldn’t give it up for the world.”

— Nayana Balasu

After joining Interact, Balasu began to bond more with her fellow club members through the experiences she had with the Interact members. She also found herself gaining more perspectives and learning more from those she met and connected with while volunteering, even people she met outside of FUHSD.

“I think [volunteering] just really helped me understand the various different issues that there are outside of our Cupertino bubble,” Balasu said. “Every year we have two projects, which are called our international project and our community project, which are aimed at solving bigger issues worldwide and community wide.”

Last year, Balasu was Webmaster of the club, but her job as Vice President this year oversees that position as well as two others. She believes that because she has experienced different officer positions, she has learned a lot from her experiences of leading and managing certain aspects of the club.

“I think the biggest takeaway has been in trying to satisfy everyone, you need to just understand that not everyone is always going to be satisfied with your decisions,” Balasu said. “I’m just trying to help [others] understand why [I] made the decision that [I] made and just being transparent about it.”

Balasu views her final year at MVHS as a chance to improve on many of the challenges she feels the club has faced, especially utilizing her position as Vice President. And as President, Wu has many ambitions for how she wants to leave an impact on Interact. Specifically, she wants members to feel the same sense of belonging that kept her with Interact for her high school experience.

“I just hope that more people will know what Interact is, and just learn more about what Interact is and recognize that there’s more to Interact than just a service club,” Wu said. “ We have so many service clubs on campus, but each one has its own kind of niche. Everyone does volunteer service, but each club is different. And I just want people to recognize that Interact is more than just service. It’s a family more than anything.”