A community within a community
October 5th, 2017
An interview with Erawan Club
One of the reasons UBC Okanagan is such a tight-knitted community is the number of clubs that cater to students’ different interests, helping local and international students alike to feel more at home on campus. Many clubs were started out by students and are run by a committee of students. Because of that, many students have been taking the interest in starting clubs, making the number of clubs on campus grow rapidly.
Meet one of UBCO’s newly-started clubs, the Erawan Club! The club is currently lead by president, Richard Bell, along with his VPs, Rattanun Chanchamcharat and Katie Tribunyatkul. After going through options with their committee team for a name, such as ‘Thai Club’, Thai Community Club’, ‘Thai Culture Club’, they decided to give a more unique name to their club.
“We wanna create a community where everyone can join and so we looked up at UBC Vancouver where they have their own Thai club. It’s a very big organization there. It’s called Thai Aiyara, which is an elephant name. So, cause we’re brothers and sisters right, UBCV and UBCO, we came up with the idea ‘why not create a name that’s relevant to each other?’. So we came up with the name, Thai Erawan, which is another name of an elephant,” said VP, Rattanun. Richard, the president, added that they didn’t want to seem inclusive of only Thai people and while it’s related to their Thai roots, it’s not excluding anybody.
The club was started out by a group of passionate Thai students and it all started from a community. Richard, explained, “My personal reason was I never really knew anyone who was Thai or got to know them well but I always wanted to start a club like this… but when there was more and more Thai people here, it only made sense to become an actual club.” With the help of a friend named Duang, who helped gather everyone together, the idea and the execution connected and the club was born.
“Our main goal is purely to create a better sense of community through unique experiences of Thai culture.”
By building a community, it led into starting the club, “Basically, I walked past [Richard] a lot. I knew he was Thai so we get to talk a little bit and he also came up with some events but it never really happened,” Rattanun clarified that it was because there wasn’t anyone who could host the events, “So that’s how we actually wanted it to happen, so we gather and make a club.”
Being a freshly started club, the committee team is working hard towards their goals for this club. Katie, the Co-VP, stated that she wanted to break the stereotypical thoughts about Thailand.
“Another goal is that, Thailand has always been shown in such a bad light… when people think of Thailand, they think of ladyboys or a bunch of stereotypes. So, we want to kind of get rid of that and actually show people what Thailand’s all about, with all the culture and the food and all the good stuff.”
Agreeing with Katie’s words, Richard also added, “Our main goal is purely to create a better sense of community through unique experiences of Thai culture”
By spreading awareness in their own culture, as well as building a community, the secretary, Thaksachan Sirikulthada, shared that he felt at home being in Erawan, “What I’ve gained personally is a lot of warmth and also more of a sense of belonging as… when I first came, I wish I had this sense of warmth and now I’m filling that hole with this club.”
The club has been actively promoting themselves since Expo Day and is gradually gaining lots of member registrations along with interest. I also got a chance to sit in on one of their meetings and the club seems to have many events planned, such as their first food event, a culture event named Loy Krathong, and premium memberships! Loy Krathong, as explained by Richard, “is an activity that’s meant to be stress-free relief for students where students will come and wish away their bad luck and at the same time have a nice calming evening, talking to fellow students who are probably going through the same thing.” Make sure to keep an eye out for all these interesting events!