The African Student Association said it hopes to make a bigger impact on campus and educate other students on African culture this school year, according to Chelsea Akyeampong, the organization’s president and sophomore global studies and political science double major.
The ASA has members who represent more than 10 African countries at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Gaye Gwion, a sophomore global studies major in charge of public relations for the organization, said she thinks ASA is used not only to educate students, but also bring African students together.
“There aren’t very many of us on campus,” she said. “So, it’s good to know that we have a support system. There will be people you meet who are in your same classes and your same age that you can hang out with.”
During the organization’s weekly meetings, the members discuss a wide variety of topics from current African events to campus life as African students.
There are constant stereotypes that others have toward people from Africa, according to Akyeampong.
“[Other students] judge our features like our big lips and big noses,” she said. “[People have] this idea that Africans are savages.”
Sophia Riing, a junior psychology major and vice president of ASA, said she has felt similar interactions.
“One thing [I notice] is if people hear me speak, they will say I talk white because I don’t have an accent,” she said.
Riing said she thinks ASA is a great opportunity for people around campus to inform themselves on how wrong these stereotypes are.
“I feel like one of our goals [this year] is to just get more people involved with us on campus, letting more people become aware of African culture,” she said.
One of the ways ASA is trying to get involved with the local community is by bringing back its Festival of African Culture this year. In past years, the festival was held to showcase food, culture and dance from several countries all over Africa, according to Akyeampong. Due to scheduling issues, the event did not occur last year.
“One year we even had a fashion show,” Akyeampong said. “We used it to raise awareness for issues and to celebrate African culture.”
The organization has big plans for the festival and its other events throughout the school year. According to Akyeampong, there is only one way to go with the organization’s success this year, and that is up.
“We are working towards becoming a stronger unit,” she said. “And when we work together, we know more people will hear our message.”