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  • Jenna Cao

After School Club Aims to Bridge Differences on School Campus

Through student-led meetings, members of the Bridges Club cover topics that are important to overcoming social differences. Bridges is part of Athens Academy’s initiative to improve Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) on the campus. The idea for the club has floated around for years, and as the spring approached, many students and faculty took action and participated in the newly formed club.

“Bridges is about opening up people’s minds and being able to communicate with others from different backgrounds and learning about the different mindsets others may have that are not similar to your own,” junior Kathryn Nichols said. “It is creating a community where we accept everyone’s backgrounds even though we are all different.”

By inviting guest speakers such as faculty, alumni, students, and members of the Athens community, Bridges aims to raise awareness for social division through the sharing of stories and experiences.

“I was the guest speaker at a Bridges meeting because it fell shortly after the Asian Spa Shootings in Atlanta which had killed many people, six of whom were Asian women. After this event happened, I wanted to find a way to show support to the Asian community,” senior Anan Shen said. “I came to the U.S. as a foreign exchange student, but I am still Asian, and I wanted to express my point of view on the situation.”

Students like Shen have helped to bring up and rouse meaningful conversation on important matters, such as Asian hate crimes, by participating as guest speakers at Bridges meetings.

Photo from FreeImages.com/B S K.

“It was very powerful to have one of our own students come out and speak up on this topic. The idea that our students are willing to step forward and say, ‘This is my experience,’ gave power to pave the way for others to share their stories in the future,” said Brian Olson, chair of service and leadership.

In the future, Bridges wants to open up separate groups for parents and faculty to discuss matters amongst themselves. The goal is to set up a framework where the three groups brainstorm priorities and talk about what is beneficial to improving the school year.

“We have to recognize that we are not all the same, and we have to realize that differences are good and they make us stronger,” said John Thorsen, head of school.