By Kennington Smith
Though the University of Georgia is a predominately white institution, it prides itself on celebrating the various, diverse cultures on campus. Through the International Student Life Office, organizations bring the culture of students’ native countries to them without them having to leave the UGA campus.
One of those organizations connects students of African descent as well as African Americans together, the African Student Union.
“Our main goal is to bring the culture of Africa to campus and try to raise awareness of what’s going on there now,” president Ijeoma Okoye said. “We feel like we have a lot to offer as people and not everyone can just pack their bags and go there so we do our best to plan events that display all aspects of African life.”
Throughout this upcoming year, ASU has many events scheduled that students can both attend and participate in that educate the student body on African culture. Among these events are large-scale fundraisers that raise money for a specific cause, Africa Week, and the biggest event of the year: Africa Night. Africa Night is a showcase that includes theatrics, singing, dancing and a fashion show; it has grown into such a big event over the last few years that it has now become a two night show.
The first event of this year will be taking place later on today, the “Back to School Cook-Out” at Myers Programming Room at 6 pm.
Once a member of ASU, students can sign up to either help plan the events or participate in them. There are openings in planning committees, behind-the-scenes help and performers. All performers in these programs are students, those with interest in acting, poetry, music and dance are encouraged to sign up. Dues for this year are $10.
Though ASU is an organization geared toward African culture, that doesn’t mean that it is exclusive to just African students. In fact, they welcome any student of non-African descent to get involved with open arms.
“We absolutely love when non-African students join, we actually have Asian dancers and performers as well as an African American on our executive board,” Okoye said. “We become a family over the year and it gives us a chance to teach each other about our cultures.”
The importance of ASU cannot be understated. As minorities make up a small percentage of the student body, it is very important that international students can have a “home away from home” feeling and that the issues facing the outside world are fostered and addressed on campus.
The African Student Union is that place for a large number of students on campus.
“When you arrive at a big school, you’re not coming here just for class, you’re also looking for different niches and families,” Okoye added. “Cultural organizations like African Student Union give students that close knit family that they can rely on and also have a good time with.”
For more updates on everything ASU, follow them on twitter @UGA_ASU and once again the “Back to School Cook-Out” will be held today at 6 pm at Myers Programming Room.