Returning to campus after spending a year abroad in Shanghai, Maximillien Inhoff ’16 wanted to find a way to continue to practice his language skills and discuss Chinese culture back on campus. He found it in a small group that gathers each week to speak Chinese to one another in a borrowed conference room in the history department. Less than a year after he joined, that informal group has become an organization called Duihua—“Dialogue” in Chinese. Inhoff is one of its co-presidents.
Inhoff’s experience is typical on a campus where student organizations are as diverse and interest-specific as those who get involved in them. With more than 290 undergraduate-run groups currently registered with the Division of Student Affairs, your student can easily find communities focused on his or her specific interests and identities—whether they are aspiring environmental lawyers or ballet dancers who are also fans of hip-hop, entrepreneurs or slam poets, lifelong Bostonians celebrating their city or international students seeking a sense of home in a new country.
University athletics (including club sports) and a vibrant range of student arts organizations are visible across the campus. But those activities exist side by side with numerous groups that help students establish and deepen their personal and professional identities.
Cultures, careers, callings
More than 35 intercultural associations on campus, from the Hawaii Club to the Arab Students Association to the Irish Society, offer students opportunities to meet others with whom they may share history, values, and traditions. ln addition, these groups often co-sponsor multicultural events and frequently help students build networks that will last beyond graduation day.
For Federico Pineda ’15 and Anna Gill ’15, co-founders of the Latin American Business Club (LABC), the inspiration for a new organization lay at the intersection of community and career. They noticed that there was no organization on campus that catered specifically to those Latin Americans who were new to the US. “We wanted to start a community for those Latin Americans,” Pineda says, “and establish a bridge between companies and Latino students” to help those students find jobs and internships in the US and abroad. Last April, two years after founding the club as sophomores, Pineda and Gill got to see the fruits of their labor. Some 240 people gathered in the Heights room for LABC’s second annual Latin American Leadership Conference, where panelists included a former Argentine minister of economy, a Venezuelan congressman, and the CEO of Empresas Polar, the largest private foundation in Latin America.
LABC is one of nearly 50 pre-professional organizations that provide information, networking opportunities, and alumni connections to Boston College’s aspiring nurses, programmers, professors, consultants, actors, and more.
While the Jesuit tradition remains at the core of Boston College’s identity, campus ministries including student faith organizations ensure that undergraduates of all religious backgrounds can find a spiritual home on the Heights. Alongside Catholic associations, groups such as Hillel, the Buddhist Club, the Muslim Association, and several Protestant organizations reflect a spiritually diverse student body. Organizations like Ignition, a student-led, faculty-directed sophomore mentorship group, emphasize conversation and overlap between traditions.
Members of Cura, Boston College’s branch of the international association of Ignatian spiritual groups known as the Christian Life Community, come together each week in small, student-led faith-sharing groups of six to ten to pray, read Scripture together, and discuss the highs and lows of their week. For Christine Cichello ’82, MA ’89, campus minister for Cura, the aim is to meet students where they are. “Some students come because they’re questioning their faith,” she says, “and others want to deepen the faith they’ve been brought up in.”
While many student organizations offer many opportunities to build career and self, others are an outlet for recreation, relaxation, and social time. At poetry slams organized by BC Slam!, bake-offs at the Baking Club, business meetings, and silent prayers across campus, a common thread emerges: the happy union of people who might not otherwise connect. For Karalyn Hutton ’16, president of the new Musical Theatre Wing, the low-commitment theater productions that her group puts on represent a way for the tight-knit theater community “to extend to other majors and people who love theater but don’t want a career in it.”
Inhoff appreciates that Duihua is a space where native speakers of Chinese and English can connect. “If we can get people together who might not otherwise have much in common, that’s a worthwhile enterprise,” he says.
By John Shakespear