African Students United Profile: Spreading Awareness of African Culture

In light of DU’s Diversity summit this week, Her Campus DU sat down with four of the Executive Board members of the student organization African Students United to understand their purpose and why ASU is such an important part of DU’s community.

Names: Zaynab Berety, Brianna Makumbi, Eden Gebru, and Tatiana Colgin​

Majors: Anthropology and International Studies, Finance, Political Science and Education, Anthropology

Year in School: All are second-years

What is the purpose of ASU?

Zaynab explains that ASU helps to provide a sense of community for African students on campus. It gives them a sense of belonging, a place to make friends, and a place to learn about their heritage. Eden mentions that as ASU brings awareness of African culture throughout campus, education becomes a piece of their mission. There are so many countries and tribes within countries in Africa, that it is important for people to be exposed to all of the different cultures and understand each other's culture. Brianna shares that ASU allows for certain international issues to be discussed through the perspective of African students. This aspect has shown to be natural, helpful, and therapeutic as students are able to talk about actual issues in their home countries.

Njabulo Ndebele, a writer and the Chairman of the Nelson Mandela Foundation came to speak

What is your favorite memory?

Eden reminisces about some of her favorite memories from ASU which are from after their weekly meetings when they turn on music and dance, which she says is always a lot of fun. She also shares that their first annual gala from last year was a fun chance to see all her friends get dressed up and dance. Zaynab shares that some of her favorite memories come from their executive board meetings when they are planning events and weekly meetings. She says they are intense and always super fun. Tatiana describes her favorite memories from their event Take Me to Africa. She loved seeing all of the dances and all the performers having a lot of fun on stage. And Brianna’s favorite memories come from their Taste of Africa event from last year. She loved cooking with her friends in preparation for the event. She said they cooked at each other's houses for three days straight and had a great time preparing lots of delicious food to share.

Dancing from Take Me to Africa Event

What are some of the notable events ASU has put on?

One of the noteable events put on by ASU was the Take Me to Africa event. They brought in professional performers, outside members, and students to showcase their culture through dance and performance. This event is a way for people to present their country and for other students to gain a better understanding of African culture. ASU also values collaboration with other student organizations on campus, particularly with other alliance groups. In the past they have collaborated with Latinx Student Alliance (LSA) to talk about colorism. They have found that these events are very therapeutic and give them all a space to talk about issues that impact all of their cultures.

Collaboration with Latinx Student Alliance on Colorism

How did you get involved with ASU?

Both Zaynab and Eden shared that they were Freshman Liaisons for ASU last year. This position is in place to help specifically first year students learn about ASU and also helps ASU address issues important to first year students. Brianna explains that she got involved through a friend of hers before she even arrived on campus. For her, it was nice to have that immediate community and connection with other students. Tatiana mentions that how she got involved was through her friends. They were all part of ASU and encouraged her to come to a meeting and she has now developed a connection with the group.

Why is ASU particularly special?

Brianna explains that a big part of what makes ASU special is how they differentiate themselves from Black Student Alliance (BSA), another student organization on campus. She shares that ASU really focuses on African culture and wants to develop allies on campus. ASU wants to be a safe space for students to connect and discuss issues and progress directly affecting African countries and tribes rather than an activist organization. Tatiana also shares from her perspectives that, though she is not African, she is a black student on campus and has found that ASU has helped to educate her and expose her to new music, movies, and dances.

Take Me to Africa Event

How can people get involved?

ASU meets every Tuesday from 6:30-7:30 in SIE Complex room 1150. Contact any of the executive board members or email them at: [email protected] for more information. Also attend their events! Their Annual Gala is on March 2nd at 8pm on the 5th Floor of the SIE Complex; formal attire.

Instagram: @duafricanstudentsunited