Ethiopian and Eritrean Association builds community and celebrates students backgrounds


Members of EEA pose for a photo at a club meeting in November.

Out of the many clubs found at AHS, the Ethiopian and Eritrean Association is always one of the most popular and always has students coming back. The club’s former officers, current officers, and Co-Presidents have worked tirelessly to build a community and safe space for students to share and celebrate their culture with one another.
The Club began in the fall of 2020, a time when virtual schooling had just begun for the 2020-2021 school year, and many students at home were struggling to connect with others due to the isolating lockdown.
Upperclassman officers worked together to build their visions of building this community in their school and started the club virtually.
“We met online every Friday evening that year, and usually had over fifty students in our google meets! It was undeniably the most fun I had during the ‘lockdown’ phase of the pandemic,” club sponsor Ingrid St. Clair said.
Since the Lockdown, the club grew to even more interest among students reaching even higher numbers and creating more and more of a community with every meeting.
“We could barely fit in a classroom and often used the cafeteria for our meetings! It was very exciting to see so many ninth graders come to meetings. You know a club is thriving when the seniors are still showing up, the juniors are running the show, and the ninth graders are relaxing and opening up socially,” St. Clair said
The club’s popularity is due to the many different great aspects the club has to offer, one being the opportunity for important conversations. The club allows students with different perspectives to speak and share their culture and experiences and encourages conversations about important issues. It helps students feel heard and like they have a voice in these important conversations.
“We have the most interesting conversations, and my club officers have taught me so much about the current teen/student experience. Their insights have informed my teaching and changed my point of view in so many ways,” St. Clair said.
“Last year our Ethiopian Eritrean Association won a competition between schools that raised $1000 for our club in the process. More importantly, we developed a strong community within Annandale of students who valued learning more about each other’s cultures and how we can improve our perception of our countries” club Co-President Ruftana Beyene said.
The club works very hard to focus on and celebrate the diversity of its students and create a community among the students who share the same culture and background. Building a community that can connect through a similar culture is vital for students of different backgrounds to feel heard.
“This club is important because it allows an already tight-knit community to spend their time creating lasting memories and growing friendships,” club Co-President Nardose Bekele said.
“This club helps students connect to their heritage by educating, sharing, and creating a safe space as a community,” Bekele said.
The meetings are really where the strong community is reflected. It’s a time for members to connect.
“We try to include a game and an opportunity for community engagement which usually looks like group discussion. Our last discussion was about taboo topics and how we can dispel controversy and fear about important topics like mental health within our community,” Beyene said.
“Our gatherings are always a great time: we belly laugh, dance, play, study, learn, reflect, eat, and simply enjoy the moment,” St. Clair said.
The club also has plans to be represented at Heritage Night, which is taking place on Friday, March 10th.
“Our club is being represented at Heritage Night as it is going to showcase some of the different tribes within our community, Bekele said.”
The club creates an inviting environment at every single meeting and is always looking for new members.
“I love how inclusive the club is, and how warm and welcoming our members are to any new student who walks in the door,” St. Clair said.
The club invites anyone of any background who wants to learn more about Ethiopian and Eritrean culture and celebrate together. The club meets in room 266 for every activity day and for meetings after school. Stay posted through the EEA Instagram (@ahs.eea), through Schoology and through remind.