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African dance party kicks off Africa Week

danceparty

The African Students Association (ASA) gave Africa Week a booming and energetic start as Calvin students participated in ASA’s African dance party this past Friday.

Africa Week, which takes place from Oct. 29 to Nov. 3, was initiated by the Calvin African studies department. The department invited ASA to participate and assist with the week’s events. This collaboration coincides with ASA’s concept of students learning from the students.

“We wanted to show that there is a significant African population on campus and hopefully have people realize that one of the best ways to learn about Africa is from the [Africans], who live in their dorms and go to their classes,” ASA president sophomore Jonathan Eigege said in an email statement.

ASA hopes Africa Week, helps the Calvin community unlearn the stereotypes about Africa that are often generated by media.

Africa is the world’s second-largest and second most-populous continent. Although there are more than 40 countries and more than 1,000 spoken languages, the diversity of this continent is often unrecognized and the people, all assumed to be the same.

Africa Week is here to educate Calvin students about Africa’s diversity, and will be filled with panels, lectures, videos and concerts.

The planning committee thought the dance party would help ease students into Africa Week and show students an intricate part of African culture.

“Dance is central to African culture and we wanted to start on a high so we could create hype for the rest of the week,” Eigege said. “Starting with a lecture would be boring.”

ASA believed the African dance party was more than just a fun way to start the week; it was a way to help students of various backgrounds connect through dance, a central part of everyone’s culture.

Ghanaian sophomore Kofi Akyeampong, who was also the DJ at the dance party, thought the dance represented a fun part of African culture and represented the light-hearted way that students would learn about the continent in the week to come.

“It was a fun way for us to celebrate our culture with other people,” he said, “It’s not always about the seriousness of the culture. We want them to know we have the same fun as all of you,just in a different way and this shows our similarities.”

Adaeze Nwadike , the events coordinator for ASA also believed that the dance party was a fun way to celebrate culture and focus on similarities between students.

“It was a fun way to introduce people to African culture and to get them to want to learn more about it by using dancing, which is something almost everyone can enjoy and identify with,” she said.

The event began at 9 p.m. on Friday with a dance tutorial for all Calvin students who wanted to learn popular African dance moves from various countries.

The dance party began at 10 p.m. and ended at 1 a.m. Faculty allowed the party’s extension after enthusiastic students asked that the party continue a little longer.

Attendance records showed more than 100 students attended.

Many students enjoyed the party.

 “I thought the dance party was great! There was a good turn out and there were a good amount of non-Africans present. One thing that I really enjoyed seeing was the groups of Africans that were teaching the non-Africans how to do the dances. Everyone was dancing, there were no awkward clumps of people looking like they felt out of place, and everyone seemed to genuinely enjoy themselves! We should definitely have more,” senior Ari Davis said.

Christine Sheehy, Ari’s dance partner for the night, also loved the party.

“It was awesome! It was really nice to get together with people who were genuinely having fun. I really enjoyed learning the different dances, and it was cool to have so many different cultures come together,” Sheehy said.

Africa Week will be filled with many events. Each day will have at least two events per day. The week will start off with a video and panel discussion and will end with a concert performed by the Thrive Refugee Children’s Choir on Saturday.

The planning committee encourages students to check student news for the events taking place each day during Africa Week.

ASA hopes that Africa Week’s events are educational, informal and enlightening.

“Ultimately we hope students gain an appreciation for the diversity and dynamism of African culture,” Nwadike said.

About the Author

RaeNosa Hudnell

Raenosa Hudnell is a Chimes guest writer for the 2012-13 school year.

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