This week for we sat down with our FAB friends from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri to see what their ASA is all about. Join us while we talk aspirations, fashion shows and dance workshops.……
FAB: What is the driving force behind your organization?
Washington – Our mission is to promote and advance intellectual, political, social, and cultural awareness about the African continent among members of the organization and the larger Washington University in St. Louis community.
FAB: Why do you think it is important for your organization to be African ambassadors on your campus?
Washington – Our membership is mostly made up of first-generation Africans, and the advantage of that is that many of us have had simultaneously experienced African and American culture. As students who walk on the border of those two worlds and who can easily see the discrepancies between them, our ASA members well suited to the task of representing Africa.
FAB: What kind of events do you organize? What is the biggest event of the year and why?
Washington – We have general body meetings, where we get together to learn more about African countries, to share our experiences, and to just hang out. Aside from that, we organize special roundtable events. We hope to kick off this year with volunteering a few times a month at a local non-profit that provides assistance for newly emigrated Africans. Our largest event is Africa Week during spring semester where we organize fashion shows, dance workshops, discussions, African-themed meals, and bring in a guest speaker. Last year we brought Chef Marcus Samuelsson and he participated in a cooking challenge with one of our University’s top chefs!
FAB: Do you think your organization is FAB? What is unique about your organization?
Washington – We are most definitely FAB!! Our ASA is unique because the African continent seems homogenous based on popular Western media, but meeting people from different African countries through ASA gives a more accurate and complete depiction, makes us realize the heterogeneity of the continent, and it helps us appreciate the differences and similarities.
FAB: What does your ACS/ASA hope to achieve?
Washington – Our ASA is always looking to grow and bring in lots new members who may not be African but still have an interest in learning about the culture.
FAB: What are some of the positive and negative (if any) outcomes/perceptions of being actively involved in your ACS?
Washington – The great part of being a part of ASA is getting the chance to bond with people who have backgrounds similar to your own–there are some things that are easier to communicate with people who know where you’re coming from. Of course one drawback is that people who aren’t actively involved in the group might assume that the members only like to hang out with each other, which definitely isn’t the case! We love to interact with people of all backgrounds, and we’ve co-sponsored events with other cultural groups in the past.
FAB: What would you say to those who believe ACS is just about partying?
Washington – We do like to party, it’s true, but obviously that’s not what it’s all about. We do like to have a good time together when we put on events but at the same time we like to drop knowledge and enlighten people who wish to know more about Africa.
FAB: Do you think being a part of your ACS will contribute to your career aspirations? Are there any examples of former members/officers that prove this?
Washington – I don’t think that it will directly affect my career of choice, but the skills that I am learning as an exec board, especially in relation to event planning, will be ones that I use in other areas of my life.
FAB: Do you feel the African/black population in your University is well represented? How has this affected the organization?
Washington – Although the African/Black population at Washington University is small, many of us are actively involved in ASA and/or our sister organization, the Association of Black Students. I’d say that the Black population definitely has a presence on campus and exists as a tight-knit community.