On Friday Feb. 5, 2021, Loyola’s Korean American Student Association (KASA) cooperated with Marlborough School’s SEOUL club to host the second “KASA x SEOUL” game night of the school year.
KASA senior leader Patrick Oh said, “The night was a huge success in my opinion. We had a pretty good turnout and we had some new faces join some of the returning participants from the previous game night.”
Approached by the leaders of SEOUL—senior Mira Kwon and junior Brodie Bojorquez—KASA had been communicating with Marlborough since October, and subsequently held the first game night on Friday Nov. 20, 2020 through Zoom. The event was advertised by both KASA and SEOUL, which led to an attendance of over 30 students ranging from 7th to 12th grade. Students who are not a member of either club were invited to attend as well, attracting a diverse group of students, many of whom were not Korean.
Joshua Kim, another KASA senior leader, said, “I was surprised so many people came to the first event. We had pretty good turnout even though it was the first time we did anything like that. The teams had a pretty even mix of Marlborough girls and Loyola guys of all grades. There were mostly Koreans but students of other ethnicities and races came as well. It was super inclusive.”
While the debut game night consisted of a variety of activities that quizzed participants on Korean pop culture, history and food, the second night consisted of activities dedicated to celebrating Lunar New Year, a major Korean holiday, which fell on Feb. 12 this year.
Bojorquez said, “As Korean student associations, our mission is to celebrate Korean culture inclusively, sharing traditions with others who may or may not be familiar with the culture while offering a space for Koreans to celebrate our identity. Because Lunar New Year is such an integral part of Asian tradition, and is a festive one at that, I think that it is a great way to introduce the breadth of art and culture that Korea has to offer while also cultivating a space for Korean students to share enthusiasm and excitement for the new year.”
The night started with a 10-minute presentation by KASA member Spencer Lee and senior leader Julian Ha about Korean food, clothing and culture during Lunar New Year. Attendees learned about the significance of certain traditions like sebae and folk games like yutnori that date back to the 5th century.
Sophomore Connor Fagan noted, “I enjoyed the Korean-related trivia games and learning about Korean new Year and different Korean foods. Although I didn’t know some of the trivia questions, they included ones that I was able to answer (questions that weren’t related to Korea) which made me feel welcomed and included.”
For the next hour, the leaders of KASA and SEOUL led their teams through three games: Jeopardy, Skribbl.io and Guess the Food. The first game, Jeopardy, quizzed teams on not only the Lunar New Year content covered in the presentation, but also on general Korean pop culture and even on the KASA/SEOUL leaders themselves.
Kim said, “We switched up the games a bit this time around. Last time we felt like they were unfocused and the whole night went way too long. This time we had a clearer idea of what to include and condensed the activities, which I feel made people enjoy it more. The biographical questions about us in Jeopardy were a fun addition too.”
The second game, Skribbl.io, had teams choose a representative to draw and guess pictures in a classic pictionary match. Team members messaged their guesses to their team’s representative, allowing everyone to participate even if just one person from each group had the chance to draw.
The closing game was Guess the Food, an idea proposed by Theology teacher and KASA moderator Tika Lee. Ingredients of iconic Korean dishes were displayed on the screen one-by-one, and teams “buzzed” in to identify the dish that contained those ingredients. The less ingredients a team needed to guess a dish, the more points they would receive. The game also included several American dishes to accommodate for the large population of non-Korean attendees.
When asked what inspired her to come up with Guess the Food, Lee stated, “I think I had just watched a bunch of cooking shows at that point and thought it’d be fun to turn a recipe into a game.”
At the end of the night, Kwon’s team emerged victorious in a close race to first. Each of her team members were rewarded a KASA shirt or gift card as a prize. Overall, the Lunar New Year celebration saw, once again, a crowd of over 30 students, proving to be a successful sequel to the first KASA x SEOUL collaboration.
Oh said, “Although we changed the format slightly from the original, people seemed to enjoy the latest game night more than the first one. It was more condensed, engaging, educational and relevant since Lunar New Year was just a week after the event.”
In their following meetings, both clubs surveyed the attendees from their respective schools and received positive feedback.
“I think we were able to bring our communities together in the best way we could during a pandemic,” Kwon emphasized. “We recently took a survey and asked our SEOUL members which event they liked best. Both events we did with KASA were the number one choice and all our members commented that they wanted more cross-school activities like that.”
Lee added, “I marveled at the creativity of the games and the wonderful enthusiasm of the moderators; it’s not an easy task to emcee an entire evening for a bunch of high school students and keep them entertained for an extended period of time. I think the fact that everyone stayed to the end is a testament to how well the activities were organized and executed. I didn’t realize people could play those kinds of games through Zoom and I give credit to the ingenuity of the LHS and Marlborough club leaders.”
Before any game nights were hosted, however, the idea of an inter-school Korean club collaboration originated from Marlborough’s Borjoquez, who sought to better engage with members of both clubs during the pandemic, when typical in-person club activities were suspended.
Kwon said, “My co-leader Brodie initially came up with the idea to reach out to LHS KASA. We always wanted to do more outreach in the community and connect with other Korean-American students at different high schools, but with our busy schedules we were never able to find the time to do so. We wanted to find creative and fun ways to engage with the community and make this time less isolating.”
While both clubs met regularly prior to COVID, meetings had gotten less interactive when having transitioned online.
Bojorquez said, “As in the case with many of our classes and extracurriculars, our meetings were virtual, and that came with some difficulties, especially when we were initially brainstorming the type of event we wanted to hold. But once we decided to hold a game night, the process was seamless and the virtual setting allowed the leaders to collaborate efficiently.”
With the end of the school year nearing and COVID restrictions easing, senior leaders of both clubs are preparing to abdicate their positions to underclassmen and plan a final KASA x SEOUL collaboration event.
“I know I have taken away some great friendships from this experience and encountered new perspectives that have enriched my view of what it means to be Korean-American,” Kwon concluded. “It has been so great to provide an opportunity where students can meet new people, from another school and even within their own school, and connect over a common appreciation for Korean culture.”