International Club shares world culture through Roots event

Every year, New Trier’s International Club organizes Roots of New Trier in an effort to raise money for charity and spread awareness about world cultures.

“Roots is a two day event where New Trier students actually can see how cultures around the world are still a valuable part of New Trier, despite New Trier being a not very diverse school, in terms of race,” said senior Shyam Thakkar, a student leader of International Club.

“Roots is the only week when all the different culture clubs come together. It’s a festival of respect for different cultures where you can really see diversity,” said school web developer Boris Spektor, a sponsor of International Club.

International Club started Roots of New Trier twenty years ago when Maria Klem, a former German teacher, and Betsy Turneau, a former French teacher, founded the club.

Roots essentially gives the culture clubs a chance to spread knowledge and awareness about their cultures in a fun and engaging way, all while raising money for charity.

“For International Club, our primary job is simply to set the guidelines that each culture club has to follow if they choose to participate in Roots,” said Thakkar. “We inform them of what they can sell, how much of their revenue we receive, and let them set up their booth on the day.”

The various clubs are responsible for supplying the items they will sell and running the booths during the event.

“In coordinating the other clubs, once we’ve given them the details of what they are doing as well as the consequences if they don’t follow our guidelines, they have a good amount of freedom to conduct their table in any way they want,” said Thakkar.

The money earned during Roots is divided between International Club and the individual culture clubs, with each club given the choice of what to do with their money

“For each individual culture club that participates, however much money they make from Roots, they keep 70%. 30% goes to International Club,” said Thakkar, “International club will choose at the end of the year which charities to donate the money to. Usually, the money goes to UNICEF and Heifer.”

Culture clubs, on the other hand, tend to spend the money they earn during Roots on the day-to-day expenses of running the club.

“We use the money for snacks, events, cooking days, and possibly field trips. Then we leave the rest for students next year to keep the club going,” said senior Sarah Rose, the head of Chinese Club.

All the booths at Roots, however, do not always receive a positive reaction at Roots. According to Thakkar, International Club continues to make a good profit every year, but there are clubs that make profits, a few that suffer losses, and some that barely break even.

The goal of Roots of New Trier, along with raising money for charity, is to “build bridges between cultures” by showing students what makes each culture unique.