When it comes to building community, CSSA has its head in the game


The Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA) hosted a League of Legends competition with the Oxy Gaming Guild March 28. CSSA president Haowen Luo (senior) said that this event consisted of two teams with five members each with two extra substitutes. They organized the teams based on balancing the gaming ability of the players so it could be a competitive yet fun experience for participants.

“We had this event because we actually heard some of our students and community members mention that they wish to have a gaming competition and that could be really fun. We’re such a small community so we like to listen to people to see what they want. Otherwise, there’s just no point in [the club], so we tried to pull this off,” Luo said.

Lucas Pan (sophomore) believes that since Occidental is a small school, it can be difficult to find a great number of people that share one’s culture without events and spaces such as this one.

“League of Legends is just one of the activities that we discovered that a lot of people have an interest in and it’s a team-bonding game, so you can really interact with your teammates and create friendships. I think it doesn’t really have to be a league or video games at all,” Pan said. “I think in general, it’s important for cultural clubs to host events so that people who don’t identify themselves as Americans would have a place to just hang out with people with similar culture and feel like home.”

Elena Chen (senior) participated as a player on one of the teams. Her team, called Big Bear Gaming (BBG), consisted of many of her friends who she games with. Chen said that she enjoyed gaming with many of her friends at the event, and she hopes that CSSA will have gaming events seasonally.

“Gaming is a tool for me to escape from the real world, but after playing a lot of games with strangers, I felt a bit bored because I could not communicate with my teammates since they were strangers and most people wouldn’t turn on their microphone,” Chen said. “I realized that I should gather some real-world friends who game too, and we escape from this world together, and that might be better.”

Pan was the team leader of BBG. According to Pan, he enjoyed getting to be competitive while having fun.

“It’s all about having fun with your friends. From my perspective, as one of the more experienced players, it was really fun for me to act as a coach and a leader at the same time and then just improve with our team while making better players and have more fun,” Pan said.

According to Chen, the community of Chinese students on campus seems to be smaller than in the past, but she hopes the community will continue to become more connected.

“I realized some Chinese kids are not that involved in this community, I always saw some Chinese students walking alone in the quad. I know how that feels. I haven’t been home for three years since COVID, so I understand that sense of feeling disconnected. I also talked with CSSA’s adviser, and he also encouraged us to unite the Chinese community,” Chen said.

Chen encourages more Chinese students to participate in the club’s events, such as their upcoming hiking event in April.

“I do not think the main point of joining a club is just participating in an event, but it is the communication between people sharing the same backgrounds. [The relationships] are more important, not this event itself,” Chen said. “For example, during our Mid-Autumn Festival, it’s just some talent show or we share mooncakes. You could buy mooncakes at any store, but you can’t get the relationship building between people or having fun [together]. It’s about the people and content, not just the event.”

As an international student himself, Luo said it is important to have a sense of community and belonging on campus; however, he believes that it is sometimes difficult due to Occidental’s small campus and the limited international Chinese student population.

“Regardless of whether people want to go to the events or not, I will still do my best to create a space for community members to at least have a space for them to meet the other community members and try to find a sense of belonging,” Luo said. “It’s a very hard thing to do but I think it’s worth doing. My goal is always to make the community better, no matter if it’s for Chinese students, Oxy community or international students. When I see other people having fun or enjoying their time, it will make me feel happy, and that’s my biggest motivation. I will just be really happy if the community could come together.”

Contact Martha Farah at mfarah@oxy.edu.


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