Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Club Profile: Japanese Student Association

A look into JSA’s upcoming events and mission
Aika Chen

The Japanese Student Association (JSA) is a registered student organization at the University of Massachusetts where students of all backgrounds can come together to appreciate and learn about Japanese culture.

The Japanese Students association has existed at UMass since 2010 and was called the Japanese Culture Club until a few years ago.

According to the president, Coo Katsuno, JSA aims to make everyone feel welcome and wants to build a community that is more than just Japanese.

JSA emphasizes the importance of inclusivity and the fact that the club is a safe space for everyone. Katsuno emphasized the association’s want to spread knowledge on culture that isn’t very well known, mainstream or Japanese inclusive.

Katsuno joined the club her freshman year, and has noticed tremendous growth in the club’s community since then. As the president she does “a little bit of everything.” She oversees all the event planning, PR outreach and finances. Katsuno wants to give everyone in the club a chance to grow.

Amy Nguyen, who is in charge of PR at JSA, wanted to join the club and chose to do PR because she “loves to interact with people,” and wants to help express what JSA stands for.

“We try to promote Japanese culture towards all groups. So, I’m Vietnamese and I learned a lot about Japanese culture through JSA. And I feel like our goal as a club is to spread Japanese culture to everyone regardless of your background,” Nguyen said.

Aika Chen, a freshman who is one of five event planners for JSA is very proud of her involvement in the club. Through being a part of the club, Chen has made great friends while helping plan events.

JSA’s biggest annual event is called Springfest, which is inspired by a Japanese street festival. It consists of traditional Japanese food, games, raffles and live music. This year it was held in the Student Union ballroom for the first time and had a large turnout, as compared to the Cape Cod lounge where it was held in the previous years.

“[The club] showcase Japanese culture of stuff that isn’t very mainstream,” Nguyen said about the events. “So, anything besides [things] everyone knows about like, anime, manga, so we try to do stuff that isn’t well known.”

The board likes to hold more intimate events which allow attendees to make new friends easily while learning about Japanese culture. Some events include Japanese calligraphy (Shuji), arts and crafts and a matcha fundraiser. Events like these are usually attended by 30-50 students.

JSA has faced some difficulties regarding funding for their bigger events like Springfest, but they hold fundraisers throughout the year and partner with corporate sponsors to help with events. This year they partnered with over 20 sponsors, including brands like Yerba and Celsius.

“Anyone who has any interest in like, any part of [Japanese] culture or just wants to come and meet friends. I really want to emphasize that our club is a safe space for everyone,” Katsuno said.

The club has grown a lot since Katsuno became president, and they hope to keep growing as a community as they try to reach a bigger audience in the coming years. They strongly emphasize how open they are to everyone trying out JSA, and non-Japanese students attending events.

“JSA like really allows you to connect to people … people that you genuinely, genuinely enjoy spending time with,” Chen said.

Daniella Pikman can be reached at [email protected]

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