WVU experiences African culture during Spring Diversity Days
Published: Monday, April 16, 2012
Updated: Sunday, April 15, 2012 22:04
West Virginia University students had the chance to experience African culture Saturday as part of Spring Diversity Days.
The WVU African Students’ Association hosted Africa Night to engage the Mountaineer family as "One WVU" and celebrate One.Diverse.Africa.
At the event, students enjoyed traditional dances, tasted African cuisine and discussed the culture while shedding light on growing issues.
"As a Liberian myself, this is an issue that’s really close to my heart," said Emira Woods, co-director of Foreign Policy In Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies. "We are coming together at a special moment not only for Africa, but the world."
Woods discussed the great successes and transformations of the continent thus far such as the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and Senegal where citizens are demanding "a different way".
"We are going through a transformation. What’s incredible is that young people are at the forefront," she said. "They are essentially saying ‘enough is enough’ and demanding it a different way – demanding a way to determine their future and to determine the future of their children."
While Africa’s successes may be great, "the challenges are many," she said.
The growing negative effects of increased interest Africa has received from political leaders around the world is due to recently discovered oil, Woods said.
"Where oil and other vital resources lie, there’s military interest," she said. "We need to not let that dominate access and control, and make sure that the flow of resources is not penetrating crises. We need to make sure the resources of the land are benefitting those who are on it."
Woods also shared the struggles of Ethiopia, where the land is being stripped away to provide biofuels for cars around the world, while many in the nation are faced with starvation.
The key to a brighter Africa lies within young people taking a chance and stepping up to become visionary leaders, Woods said.
"I believe WVU students can play a pivotal role," she said. "You are the key to the future of Africa. I do believe you have the skills. Can you dare to invent the future? That is the challenge of the moment, for the continent and for the world."
WVU President James P. Clements said he believes events such as Africa Night allow the Mountaineer family to experience different cultures and are crucial to the University’s 2020
Strategic Plan for the Future.
"We are preparing students to work in what is truly a global market," Clements said. "Events like Africa Night are vital to campus. They are so important and critical to creating awareness."
ASA Treasurer Amadou Toure said as an international student from Mali, he too believes diversity is crucial to success.
"I want to see a more diverse campus. As a member of the Student Government Association, that’s what I’m fighting for," Toure said. "International students are far away from their homes. The more diverse we can make campus, the more Morgantown can feel like a second home to these students."