Attending a school as big as IU can be scary for some students, but I saw it as an opportunity to grow, learn, and meet new people. I was determined to take advantage of the many student organizations that IU has to offer.
For example, I found my community right away when I joined the African Student Association (ASA) during my freshman year. The overall purpose of ASA is to provide an engaging environment for all people to learn about African cultures, raise awareness about current events and politics in Africa, and mobilize support around issues in Africa.
Joining ASA was one of the best decisions I could have made. It connected me with other first-generation African students like myself (and others interested in Africa), allowing me to experience an immediate feeling of comfort and community on campus! Growing up Liberian and being surrounded by other African friends and family, I knew about ASA before I began college. Older friends and family members spoke highly of ASA’s efforts to unite people from different cultural backgrounds, highlighting their success in hosting great events and supporting African countries, which excited me.
ASA has been especially important to me in 2020, as it has been a consistent community of hope despite a year full of uncertainty, injustice, and division. Though the world has faced many challenges this year, 2020 has taught us the importance of uniting for a greater cause. It forced us to have uncomfortable conversations surrounding race, police brutality, global oppression, and public health, motivating much of the United States and the world to stand up for what we believe in to positively impact the communities we love. In support of the various social movements around the globe, ASA mobilized to raise awareness of the social issues facing African countries. We hosted a campus vigil to highlight issues such as #ENDSars, gender-based violence, and human trafficking. Our goal was to educate students and community members about these matters, creating resource guides to help others understand their role in combatting global issues.
The vigil was very emotional yet powerful. We had critical conversations about major social, cultural, and political global issues, and we honored and remembered those who have passed due to violence and injustice. We wanted to elevate the voices of the voiceless, and we did just that. Though we are halfway across the globe, we can still make a difference in others’ lives because they matter too, and that is why having a global perspective is essential to me.
Two years have passed since my IU journey began, and I have served on ASA’s executive board as the Parliamentarian and Historian. Besides finding my community, ASA has allowed me to merge my academic passions (International Studies and African Studies) with my interest in international development and community service, strengthening my gratitude for languages and culture, which will translate into a future career.