A Four Part Memo: Some Personal Reflections on KASA, and Looking Forward

Part I.

I’ve always felt that you can tell a lot about a man based on the simple catch phrases that float through their mind during the week. Whether that be, “Work hard, play hard” or “Happiness is a choice” or my personal favorite, “No money, no honey.”

Joking aside, one of my favorites is by Sigmund Freud- “Love and work…work and love, that’s all there is.”

I like this quote because it helps me decide how to spend my time. We all have about ten free hours every day (the other fourteen are occupied by sleeping/basic chores/exercise/commute/etc).

I find that if I spend all ten hours alone in the library studying and trying to get good grades, I feel something missing and a bit empty. On the flip side, if I spend all ten hours alone just hanging out with friends or not doing anything ‘productive’, I also feel something missing.

I’ve noticed that I feel most at peace when I am spending about seven hours a day doing Work, and about three hours a day doing Love. I try to make sure to catch at least one coffee with a friend every afternoon, and a good talk in the evening with one of my roommates. On weekends, I try to leave Saturday for a nice trip with friends, and Sundays for a work session. These are the two modes in which I live my Life: hanging out with friends and doing my hobbies, or furiously studying (downloading mental software) because this will help me succeed when I enter the workforce in June 2018. Another way of putting this might be, Life is toggling between “Being” and “Becoming.”

I’m positive you are wondering why I feel the need to aimlessly ruminate on my own personal schedule in a memo to our entire team. But I do so because I think Freud’s typology of ‘Love and Work, and Work and Love’ is critical to understanding what KASA is and the function that we play.

Part II.

First and foremost, every Berkeley student is incredibly motivated and driven. We all desire to discover something which we are passionate about. We all wish to spend our time doing something worthwhile in which we lose ourselves with intensity. We all want to make our parents who sacrificed so much proud. And of course, we want to make our friends and lovers proud as well.

But as I mentioned above, exclusive devotion to Work truly neglects our deeper inner lives. Professional success is the greatest feeling in the world, but so too is sitting on Baker’s beach on a sunny afternoon with good friends, clenching your stomach because everyone is laughing too hard.

I think KASA helps a significant portion of students balance out the Work segment of their lives, with Love. How many organizations do you know that throw open kickbacks for the community just about every three to four weeks? How many organizations have chumming systems that can set up coffee dates with new friends? Yes, a kickback is just a kickback- but it’s the greatest thing in the world when you’ve been studying and working all week long.

Theodore Zeldin in his book ‘The Intimate History of Humanity’ wrote that, “Humans love to meet each other. They just need a third person to help them meet.”

I think this is what KASA is, and more generally this is what community is. KASA is but one component of many of our peer’s social lives, but from my observations it is an important one for many. And KASA staff is what enables this component. We are ‘social architects.’ I don’t think social architecture is for everybody. It requires you to an extent, put others before yourself. You may not have the greatest time at some hangout, but without a doubt- there is always some member who is having an amazing time.

Part III.

*note- skip this section as it might be a bit boring. But it’s helpful for my own sanity! Maybe yours too.

I think there are 5 main kinds of communities we all find ourselves in. I want to emphasize that the individual and their community can only be understood as ‘plural’ and ‘intersecting.’ I belong to about four different communities at any given time. Depending on the season, I will be involved more heavily in some than others.

If you look at all organizations on campus, you can sort them into the latter four categories. I don’t think they conflict with each other as much as they complement each other. Each of these communities caters to the various aspects of our complex social lives.

  1. One-on-one Communities- one on one friendships that don’t really exists in a larger organic network, usually you find these by joining one of the below four communities
  2. Professional Community- work towards formal connections that will help one’s career, meet people with similar occupational interests, e.g. consulting club, newspaper, undergraduate major society,
  3. Religious Community- people of the same faith
  4. Personal, Hobbies Community- can enjoy a common activity together, hiking, basketball, book club, dance club
  5. Ethnic Community- In the 21st century, race still matters, and arguably all experience is ethnic. Ethnicity can never be the ultimate foundation for connection, but it can be a great set-up. Our personal biographies are always affected by history, and it is within ethnic communities that we can uniquely celebrate culture, and discuss struggles; so many people of Color will fiercely testify to struggles within White Majority communities. Ethnic community is fascinating because it tends to be interconnected with all of the above four communities. I think this is due to the simple fact that most of us live in the same cities, our parents speak the same language, we go to the same schools and churches, we share the same motherland/language/food, we share this sense of ‘being in between’, what writer and activist Gloria Anzaldua called ‘Mestiza consciousness.’

Part IV.

Some Practical Moves Going Forward:

-Committees, I think we could have a lot of fun with adding a committee level of organization on top of the traditional family system. Committees are organized along ‘interests.’ A group that goes to watch movies and hang after, a hiking group, a salon, etc.

-An incredible focus on underclassmen, I think this is the group to focus on. I would argue that KASA is most useful for underclassmen. By the time you are an upperclassmen, you tend to hang with a few solid friends that you’ve found through communities like KASA and others. KASA might be thought of as an org that helps ease underclassmen into University, and is one of the communities that helps them get their social lives going. Upperclassmen are usually involved because 1) Meeting new people never gets old 2) It feels good to give back 3) Be the change you wish to see.

-Big/little system.

-More specific directions for family heads. I think the small things help, like individually messaging each member during the first few weeks. So many people share that they were at first intimidated. Can expand on this later.

-Logistical things- Timeline for the entire year established by the first month of school. Meetings on campus every week. Staff chumming.

Closing note: So many thanks to Shawn and Shelly for leading this year. And huge shoutout to our entire Staff. We’ve had our ups and downs, but I think we’d all agree that we’ve learned a lot!

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