African Student Council breaks down stereotypes

GVL/Luke Holmes

GVL/Luke Holmes

Jess Hodge

Laughter, smiles, happiness and friendship paint the room where the African Student Council meets. Every Monday, they meet at 9 p.m. to discuss upcoming events in the community and on campus, their own coordinated events and each other. The ASC was made to connect African students who attend Grand Valley State University with other universities in Michigan and to make a difference at GVSU.

According to the ASC’s OrgSync page, their purpose is to “foster leadership and provide cultural activities, social networking, and community service toward the advancement of those of the African decent and all those interested in the African cultures.”

However, Akua Ekye-Addai, vice president of ASC, describes it as much more. For her, the group is a big, crazy and loud family.

“(We) seek to provide a welcoming and comfortable place for international students who are often in need of a home base or source of support,” she said. “We also want to spread knowledge and educate our fellow GVSU students about how wonderful and diverse the continent of Africa is.”

Addai, who is studying Women Gender and Sexuality studies, notes that the club also tries to show that stereotypes of Africans are not true.

“(We) break down some of the misconceptions people may have based on what they see in the media or may have learned,” Addai said. “We work really hard to ensure that GVSU has exposure to as much diversity as possible.”

ASC hosts and attends a variety of different events throughout the year. They just had their first annual Alumni Dinner earlier in November, and they hold occasional dance classes. They also held Global Lounge and a mock-tail mixer in October. The other events they participate in on campus include the Intercultural Ball and Sexy Accent Night.

This school year marks the African Student Council’s 10th year as a student organization. Addai said the organization has come a long way in terms of its events and exposure on campus.

The group recently visited a screening for SowHope, a non-profit organization based in Grand Rapids that helps women in need micro-finance their lives. President of ASC Rose Turuka urged the members during their meeting Monday night to attend one of the two screenings the next day.

“SowHope either get contacted or they find a village or place where women really do need their help to make their lives better,” she said. “They find local leaders and local resources that the women can use and they teach them how to micro-finance their lives and to make money from the resources they have.”

Turuka hoped members would attend to help show their support for a local organization that is helping out and bringing awareness to other countries, much like what the ASC strives to do.

“They are talking about our continent, they are helping our continent,” she said. “(SowHope) was there for our dinner and dance as well. They are becoming a really great support for African Student Council, so in turn we want to show support for them.”

African Student Council seeks to help not only African students on GVSU’s campus, but also those around the community. They welcome all who share their love and interest of Africa and African culture.

“ASC kept me more involved on campus and the kids keep me feeling young,” Addai said. “I really care and love each of them like family, and I am so happy I was able to be a part of such a wonderful organization.”