Meet the South Asian president of APAC: Krisha Grigaliunas



Krisha Grigaliunas, recently elected president of the Asian Pacific American Club (APAC), hopes to make the space more welcoming of South Asian and Southeast Asian students.

Senior Krisha Grigaliunas, recently elected president of the Asian Pacific American Club (APAC), walks into room 211 each X-block with a smile, reminding herself of the importance of her presence in APAC. Passionate about bringing more diversity to the club, Grigaliunas hopes to make the club one where South Asian and Southeast Asian students feel that they belong.

Describe your early experience with APAC.

I signed up for APAC sophomore year when I was new from Australia because I lived somewhere where my school was about half Asian people and half white people. I came here and I was like, ‘Wow, this is incredibly different.’ I turned up to one of the [APAC] meetings and noticed that there was not a single person in the room who looked even remotely like me, and I just never went back.

What inspired you to run for president of APAC?

After being on the email list for a while and being ignored at the club fair by APAC, and having to explain my Asian heritage because I’m not what a lot of people picture when you say Asian, I got very frustrated. The final thing for me was Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month last year. I went to the atrium because I heard there was a display there, and I looked at the Asian-American excellence board, and there was not a single South Asian or brown Southeast Asian person on there. In a fit of rage, I made my own posters. I pasted them next to the ones that APAC had made, because I found out they were responsible. I put them all over the STEM wing.

The night before [APAC presidential] elections, I decided I was going to run. I gave my speech about how it’s incredibly frustrating to walk into a community that’s meant to be for you and see no one like yourself, and the reason that I feel a lot of South Asian students and Southeast Asian students are too afraid to go to that club is because they see no one like themselves. That’s why I decided to run for president: because I want a space for myself. I want a space for all of my friends. I feel like the way [APAC] has been advertised in the past makes it look like it’s for only East Asian people. If you look at the flyers where they put oriental symbols, like Chinese dragons, and foods only from certain cultures, it was really advertised not to be for us. But that’s not fair. I feel like if you’re going to call yourself the Asian American Pacific Islander club, you have to actually be the Asian American Pacific Islander club. If you’re having an Asian Club, you have to get it to reflect Asia.

Why do you feel APAC is an important club to have?

APAC is open to everyone. It’s a space for us to learn about each other, and be more accommodating to each other in a really informal way. I feel like the best way to get rid of discrimination is through education. I really appreciate that non-Asian people come to APAC because it makes me feel heard, and I know it makes a lot of the other Asian people feel heard to know that [non-Asian people] care and want to come and celebrate with us. That’s really important. I’m really proud to be the president this year.

Why do you feel affinity spaces are valuable?

An affinity space, for me, is super important because as a minority, it’s really hard to get your voice out there in general. It’s really nice to have a place where you can go and vent and talk about everything that’s been happening and not be treated like a crazy person. I feel like because I’m South Asian, I’m such a minority at the school that when I talk about my experiences, people are always like, ‘Oh, there’s no way that happened. There’s no way you’ve ever been through anything like that. There’s no way people call you a terrorist. There’s no way that there are these stereotypes.’ And, I understand because how could they know? They wouldn’t know; they haven’t walked my life, I haven’t walked theirs.

Having an affinity space is just such an amazing thing because you can talk about everything that you need to talk about. You can talk in your native language, you don’t have to ‘turn off the Asian’ as I would say I do for a general classroom setting. It’s freeing. It’s like being around family, because you all have something in common. Something that’s really important for me is celebrating Asian joy. When I go into an affinity space where we celebrate the same things, we have similar parents, we have similar backgrounds and cultures, it’s just like a breath of fresh air.

What are the curriculum changes APAC is advocating for?

Last year, a bunch of people in APAC came together and were like, ‘This [lack of representation] is ridiculous.’ We’re not in any history [curriculums]; I haven’t read a single book by an Asian person my entire time at Brookline High. This is ridiculous. So far, [APAC] has done a huge presentation to the superintendent. We are going to meet with the heads of departments and try to integrate new books and do further work on reworking the Hinduism unit and making sure that we can connect history to Asian people today. We feel that they teach ancient Asia a lot and tend to portray us as barbaric or backwards.

What are you most excited about for the year with APAC?

Community bonding is what I’m really excited about. I’m also so excited for the LEAP advisory and just being able to collaborate with other Asians and hear their voices, because I’m not perfect and there’s a ton of things that I don’t know. There’s a lot to look forward to. I’m just looking forward to rebranding APAC as the club for all Asian people.

To learn more about APAC’s Supporting AAPI Students Through Curriculum initiative, visit: