Originally posted on the-standard.org on April 5, 2016. Photo by Bailey Vassalli.
A student organization dedicated to its African roots spread awareness about its culture on Friday, April 1, by hosting a banquet called “A Night in Africa”.
The African Student Association provided a night rich in its heritage, offering native cuisine, entertaining guests with live performances, and a fashion show of the traditional pieces worn in their home countries.
The night was in support of African students in Springfield, according to vice president Adekemi Omoloja.
“The event was just to showcase Africa, and not all of Africa because that’s a lot of countries, but to just to showcase all of the people that we do have here on campus,” Omoloja said.
When the club first originated, adviser Theresa Odun-Ayo said the African Student Association was important because it interlocked a variety of cultures that would only benefit the campus atmosphere.
“I’ve had experience working with African students and I just saw the need to have that kind of interaction on campus, not just amongst the African students, but also it helps network between the cultures,” Oden-Ayo said. “It gives that support structure and the ability to showcase the culture of where all of these individuals are from.”
After helping the club get on its feet two years ago, Omoloja was elected president, then stepped down the following year. Since moving from Nigeria 10 years ago, she was looking for a little piece of her culture on campus.
“I wanted a sense of community,” Omoloja said. “I know that campus is sometimes really hard, and if I had other people in my culture that I can relate to, then I would like it more.”
Although experiencing the clash of cultures has proven to be difficult, Odun-Ayo said that she would ask for nothing more.
“I think it’s a privilege that we can call two places home,” Odun-Ayo said. I absolutely call (Springfield) my home now, and I also do think that Africa is my home, so I count myself privileged to be accepted by two places.”
With the help of the African Student Association, African students can readjust to a new culture without giving up their own. The club meets every other Wednesday night at 5 p.m. During meetings, the 10 members usually discuss planning for ongoing projects and current events.
“We have something called Nyu-Nyu News, and in that segment of our meeting we essentially talk about articles or recent postings that would be trending somewhere in Africa,” Omoloja said. “After the discussion we talk to the general body and see what they think about this issue.”Omoloja said that the banquet on Friday took roughly two months to plan. Tickets were sold online and at the Plaster Student Union.
Regardless of all the success the club has made in the community, Omoloja said that for her, the African Student Association kept her tied to her home roots.
“It’s kept me up-to-date and kept me on my feet in trying to actually keep updated on what is going on back home,” Omoloja said. “It encourages me to look back at my place and to keep having these conversations, because they are important, and there are always people that are willing to learn.”