The Asian Student Association (ASA) is the newest addition to Canisius’ diversity branch of clubs/organizations. Founded last year right before the pandemic began, ASA’s mission is to promote Asian cultural awareness as well as unity and acceptance among different cultures. ASA’s president and founder, junior psychology major Husna Raheem, said that ASA is a place where students are able to learn more about Asian culture and gain a better appreciation for their own and others’ cultural identities. “We want to allow people to learn more about different Asian countries, customs, beliefs through our club,” Raheem said. ASA hopes to serve as a representation for students of all Asian ethnicities, from Pakistan to Japan and everywhere in between.
Growing up in Williamsville, N.Y., Raheem led the resurrection of a Cultural Awareness club during her time at Williamsville North High School. After seeing its impact in her local community she decided to bring a similar club to Canisius, this time placing an emphasis on Asian culture. “I wanted to bring a sense of acceptance to Canisius because there are a good amount of international students as well as students of Asian descent born and raised here in Buffalo,” she said.
Raheem also cited her experiences from her freshman year at the University at Buffalo as motivation to start ASA at Canisius. While she was very excited and happy to transfer, one downside that she couldn’t ignore was the lack of representation for her ethic group. “After coming to Canisius, I couldn’t help but feel different from my classmates,” Raheem explained. “I wanted there to be a place where I could meet other students like me and feel a sense of belonging.”
After gathering enough support for ASA, Raheem was successfully able to start her club during the spring semester of her sophomore year. Unfortunately, as ASA was first beginning, so did the pandemic. However, Raheem has managed to keep ASA alive and thriving during these unprecedented times through virtual biweekly meetings and events. This past semester, ASA held a virtual trivia night for anyone who was interested in attending. “With everything going on, we shifted the focus towards getting everyone together in a safe way for a fun and educational virtual event.”
ASA’s creative ways of keeping their members engaged virtually have been a success so far, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t already planning ahead for in-person events. “Slowly but surely things will begin to go back to normal and when they do, we will definitely be less limited when it comes to types of events.” A few possible future event ideas Raheem mentioned include movie nights, Bollywood dance classes and food tasting from a variety of Asian countries.
Even though ASA obviously places a strong emphasis on Asian culture and appreciation, everyone is welcome to join and learn more about Asian culture. “We want to be a positive force on campus that teaches students of all backgrounds to celebrate differences rather than look down on them.”
If a student is interested in joining, they should visit Canisius Life portal through my.canisius.edu where they can search “Asian Student Association” and click join. They’ll be added to ASA’s mailing list and will receive information on upcoming events and meeting dates. Information can also be found at their Instagram page @canisiusasa.
Raheem and the rest of ASA are excited for what the future holds, and the group is looking forward to spreading cultural awareness throughout campus. “We are ready for the journey that lies ahead and will be continuing on with our events to raise awareness for the vast amount of diversity present within Asia,” she said.