On Feb. 16, 60 students signed up for the brand new European club, led by club president and former ACA student, Rodny Aquino.
According to Aquino, club president and business management major, the goal of the club serves a threefold purpose: a place to learn about European culture, a connecting point for returning ACA students and a club for those of European nationalities.
Although not of European descent, Aquino cites his experiences as an ACA student in Italy as the main reason for starting the club.
“I spent a year abroad in Italy, and it was a life-changing experience. It was a lot of personal growth and self discovery,” Aquino said. “I just kind of wanted to share that. I also wanted to stay connected [with the other ACA students].”
According to admission records, all 8.8 percent of Southern’s international students are from Europe, ranging from countries such as Germany, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Netherlands, United Kingdom and Ukraine.
Modern Languages department office manager Rayna Robinson claims that over the last five years, the ACA program has sent an annual average of 34 students to Europe. Countries where students study include Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Austria, and the United Kingdom.
Aquino says in the future, he hopes the club will grow and possibly hold their own cultural night.
“Even though I will not be here to see it, most likely, I want to see a European night. I also want to break this misunderstanding that a European club is just for white people. It’s not because there are a lot of people in Europe. And there are also different cultures in Europe,” Aquino said. “This is to offer just more inclusion and more awareness and hopefully enrich students’ life here at Southern.”
Dakota Bemis, former ACA student and current club member, shares his former experiences for why he joined the club.
“Since I’ve come back, I haven’t really found a group that allows me to talk about what I experienced over there [studying in Spain]. And I thought this [European Club] was a great idea,” Bemis said.
Students can follow the club’s Instagram page @ecs_sau to learn more about the events, times, service opportunities and information to sign up.