The one club I committed to this semester was Rutgers Association of Philippine Students, also known as “RAPS.” I’m proud to be a part of RAPS, and I am even prouder to be Filipino.
What compelled me to join RAPS was the fact that I had already been in an Asian organization in my high school. I figured RAPS would be better for me because it hones in on my one ethnicity. I ended up becoming part of RAPS’ Cultural Dance Troupe (RCDT), again due to the fact that I had been in an Asian organization in my high school that was based on Asian dancing. I like RAPS because the people are so nice, and I immediately made friends that became family. I have a “big” who is a great mentor in getting my Biological Sciences major and deciding whether or not to pursue med school.
However, what made me stay in RAPS was the experiences outside of making new friends. My first performance was just outside of the College Avenue Student Center, for a Globmed event, and it was exciting because I got to do Tinikling, one of the most famous traditional Filipino dances, after a long while post-high school. My next performance was for Halo-Halo-ween, an event that really emphasized celebrating Filipino talent. I did not know that my little RCDT group would then be invited to dance for the Brooklyn Nets in the Barclay’s Center. This was to celebrate Filipino cultural heritage month, and if you’re Filipino, you know it was a big deal for the majority of Filipinos who also love basketball. I still can’t believe I danced on the court that famous NBA players ran onto just moments after. A while after, I performed from Battle of the Barrios, an event in which Filipino student organizations from New Jersey and New York (known as District III) come together and compete in putting on skits that best show an aspect of Filipino culture. My last performance will be Sunday at the Barrio Fiesta, yet another event just celebrating Filipino talent and culture- this time with family and friends outside of Rutgers. We also have a Semi in late May!
My experience performing for the group had been key memories to my first year in Rutgers U. If you are Filipino student interested in what else RAPS has to offer, come to the interest meeting in September! There are other subgroups in RAPS aside from RCDT: RAGS is a music group, RDT is a modern dance group, RAPS media crew handles pictures, videos, and other technological things, and RAPS has its own sports groups. There is something for everybody. Even if you don’t want to join a subgroup, the general body is just as fun. There are general body member meetings every week, and each one has a different theme. Some include dancing (taught by RDT and RAPS), movie-watching, karaoke, yoga, learning Filipino languages.
You do not have to be Filipino to join!
Rutgers has so many organizations to join, but my opinion is that the best one to join when you first come is an ethnic one, specifically of your ethnicity. Something about having that ethnicity in common is comforting when you initially join the group. You share your cultural experiences, family stories, ethnic jokes, and just automatically understand one another- even on a rudimentary level. RAPS was easily the group that felt like a family.