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The Alchemy of Clark DECA

By: Sehee Park

The buzz in the air is palpable.

There are only a few weeks remaining until SCDC, and it’s crunch time. And in that remaining time, so many things that have to get done, from passing out paperwork to giving out reminders on what to pack and how to dress professionally; checklists made and crossed out and made again.

But first, a game of Kahoot.

It’s a battle of knowledge to see who knows the most facts about DECA, everyone in the room clutching their cellphones and staring at the screen in anticipation as they wait for the next question to load. The prize on the line: a guaranteed place selling Subway, a way to decrease the price for SCDC. It should be a tense and competitive atmosphere, but looking around the room, there are only smiling faces and amicable exchanges. This closeness has been missing for most of the year, often bogged down by informational meetings crammed too full with, well, information, and not enough of the heart and joy that lies at the heart of the DECA experience. At the conclusion of the game, there are jeers and good-natured jibes because the winner is Theodore Chu, the vice president (though he does cede his prize to the second place).

With every passing moment, the bonds between the members grow, and the festive mood carries over to the second part of the meeting, which is dedicated to practicing roleplays. Annie Lu, the president, first demonstrates an example of a bad roleplay: she comes in with hunched shoulders, gives the “judge” a limp handshake, and meekly presents her ideas with little creativity or spark. Then, she begins the roleplay again, and this time, it is like a switch has been flipped, her confidence and vivacity enrapturing the room and making the first-years just a little bit awed.

The members are soon paired off, doing their best to come up with the most original business plans and striving to present the most polished and engaging persona. They work hard for the remainder of the meeting, but at the same time, they are having fun, growing in confidence and cracking a few jokes along the way.

This elusive mix of professionalism and joy is the reason why DECA is such a rewarding club. Yes, members stress about SCDC, running through practice tests and furiously churning out presentations, but at the end, they are rewarded with the gift of friendships formed, with countless good memories, and the euphoria of success.