Next Generation Ovarian Cancer Alliance – Ovary Fun Night

Next Gen is a student organization on UofM’s campus. Our mission statement is through campus involvement, Next Gen will work to raise awareness and educate people on the University of Michigan’s campus about ovarian cancer. This year we hosted our second annual Ovary Fun Night. This is an awareness gala we host each year. During the event, we teach people about ovarian cancer, have ovarian cancer survivors tell their stories, we have the GMen perform, and we have auction off items. This is a time for people to come together and learn about such an important cause. This year we were able to earn more money as well as reach more people than last year, which is our number one goal.

This year we faced less challenges than last year. It was nice to have to a foundation from last year to grow and improve from. The only challenge I can think of that we faced is before the event we did not have as many people signed up as we had hoped. However, we reached out the day of the event and told them it was not too late to register. This doubled our attendance. It taught us never to give up on recruiting people. It also showed us that our crowd might be more last minute people so we should continue to remind them of the event and tell them to come in the future.

We are very grateful to the Barger Leadership Institute and for the help they gave us. We plan to continue working hard to spread awareness about ovarian cancer throughout our time at the University and will pass the organization on to others when we leave. This event allowed us to spread awareness, which is a critical part of our mission. We are excited to see what the future holds and are hoping to partner with the BLI again.

By: Barbara Dahlmann

Our Global Africa: A Night of Food, Music, and Performances

Our Global Africa: A Night of Food, Music, and Performances November 16, 2018 7-9pm, UMMA Apse

A Collaboration between UMMA, African Students Association (ASA), Caribbean Student Association (CSA), Black Student Union (BSU), and Creatives of Color (CoC)

In conjunction with UMMA and the breaktaking exhibit, ‘Beyond Borders: Global Africa,’ ASA, CSA, BSU, and CoC shared their perspectives on how African culture, artistic expressions, and traditions are beyond borders. The exhibition explores identity, migration, and the international scope of art from Africa and the African Diaspora.

Co-host Jeremy Kwame

The event was an outstanding success! There were approximately 200 people in attendance to mingle and visit the exhibition before the performances, witness amazing performances, and enjoy delicious catering. The food must have been good because we ran out pretty quickly! Further, this event had a more diverse turnout in terms of racial and ethnic social identities than some of our previous events, which was exciting.

Pictured right: Jeremy Kwame, one of our co-hosts, introducing the next performance. Attendees viewed performances on the main floor of the Apse, as well as from the balcony.

We would like to recognize all the performers for the event:

Lindsey Sharpe: Cello

Aldo Leopoldo Pando Girard: Spoken word

Ambiance Dance Team

Dania Harris: Spoken word

AMALA Dancers

Zoe Allen: Spoken word

Kameron Johnson, Caelin Amin, Tariq Gardner, Kasan Belgrave: Band

Our team started small by meeting with Dr. Laura DeBecker, the Associate Curator of African Art at UMMA and Ms. Lisa Borgsdorf, the Manager of Public Programs at UMMA, in April of this year. They were hoping to collaborate with ASA on an interactive event surrounding the ‘Beyond Borders: Global Africa’ exhibition. From there, ASA members reached out to other student organizations part of the African Diaspora for performances to create an engaging, and educational evening of African artistic expressions. Once performances were finalized, we delegated speaking roles to our co-hosts, point person on ASA, and collaborators at UMMA. This skill of starting small contributed to a successful evening because everyone knew what their responsibilities were.

Pictured left: AMALA Dancers before their performance. The Amala Dancers’ mission is to promote self-love, pride, and unity to descendants of Africa and its Diaspora and to the greater campus community. ‘Amala’ is an Igbo word that means grace, as in grace of God. Amala also comes from the name of a dance “egwu-amala” that was popular among those that lived by the river. “Egwu-amala” can be translated as the “canoe dance” or the “mermaid-dance”.

We also utilized the BLI Habit, work to learn, during the planning process. For example, we learned that an effective way of gauging the educational impact of our event is by waiting for opportunities to present themselves. The gallery viewing, for some attendees, sparked a deeper interest in the inspiration surrounding the exhibition. A team member had the exciting opportunity to witness an attendee ask Dr. DeBecker about what led her to that position and which artist’s work in the gallery was her favorite. This interaction is an example of how running the event led to learning something that could not have been planned. Also, Creatives of Color, Caribbean Student Association, Black Student Union, and African Students Association have not collaborated on a event before, but after working together, conversations have already taken place for future collaborations.

Although the event was a success, there were some challenges along the way. During the planning process, sometimes the groupchat among the collaborating organizations was stagnant. We dealt with this challenge by personally reaching out to representatives from the other organizations, rather than asking for updates in the groupchat. This change in communication was more successful because the representatives were more responsive, and ASA members were able to start associating names with faces. During the event, one challenge was not having enough time for all performers to do a sound check. We dealt with this challenge by performing the sound check for as many performers as we could, and welcoming and encouraging the guests who arrived early to move to the cocktail tables for food and mingling.

Overall, we are very happy with the outcome of the event. It was a new event, with a substantial number of guests. We could not have done it without the tremendous amount of support from UMMA.

Pictured left: Ms. Lisa Borgsdorf, Manager of Public Programs at UMMA and Tosin Adeyemi, ASA’s point person for the event (and Kehinde Wiley in the flesh!)

Further, I’d encourage anyone interested in African Art to take HISTART 208, taught by Dr. Ray Silverman and Dr. Laura DeBecker. It was an amazing class that ended up leading to this entire event!

Unfortunately, the exhibit is no longer displayed, but more information can be found at the following link: https://umma.umich.edu/exhibitions/2018/beyond-borders-global-africa

 

Thank you again BLI for your support. We hope to collaborate again in the near future.

Sincerely,

ASA Executive Board 2018-2019

Pictured (left to right):

Kingsley Enechukwu, Ihunanya Muruako, Megan Manu, Giselle Uwera, Temitope Oyelade, Tosin Adeyemi, & Maxwell Otiato

Not pictured: Jeremy Kwame Selina Asamoah

 

 

By: Tosin Adeyemi, Treasurer, African Students Association

One. Two. Three. FUNKTION!

Family.

Culture.

Expression.

FunKtion is University of Michigan’s only all male, multicultural, urban hip hop dance team. We perform consistently throughout the year entertaining crowds and introducing people to new culture, music, and expression. Every performance starts with the same chant we’ve had since our conception in 1999. “FunKtion on three. One. Two. Three. FUNKTION.”

We don’t want to be the best dancers. We don’t want to be the most technical. We focus on development.

We stay true to the notion that anyone without experience can learn to express themselves, to build on their confidence, to show them the beauty of community.

We believe that in order to entertain the audience with our performances, we first have to entertain ourselves: by focusing on the bonds we have with each other and having fun during practices (at the cost of efficiency), we do just that. By doing so, we create a place for ourselves on campus as not just a team, but as a brotherhood, one capable of surviving grueling 6-12 hour practices.

Every fall we perform at 2XS Barnite, a dance showcase hosted by Dance2XS UMich and features crews from all over the midwest. Our performance this year was one of the best we have had yet, and can be watched at this link: https://youtu.be/f5Uh_Ki2v1I. We hope you enjoy it, and we want to thank the BLI again for helping us look so fly.

By: Sanjee Choudhuri

READY, SET, ACTION: a reflection on a/pia high school conference 2018

Ready, Set, Action.

That was the theme for this year’s Asian/Pacific Islander American High School Conference (A/PIA HSC). This year’s HSC embodied Ready, Set, Action before it even became our theme, when it was just my co-chair, Tiffany, and me FaceTiming over the summer. We already had a billboard-sized vision of what we wanted the
conference to look like—now we just needed a team to help us execute it. Little did I know how wonderful and brilliant our board would be.

I knew that Tiff and I had crafted a successful team because we chose people who believe young people have the power to change the world. Our team has spoken to over one hundred people to make this conference happen. High schools, community centers, restaurants, state senators, professors, students. A lot of students. Despite all of the time spent on the phone or in Google Drive (Google Sheets was my personal favorite), I think everyone left the conference feeling somewhat awestruck. For me, the conference wasn’t real until 8 AM on November 10, when Ready, Set, Action was displayed on almost every single body in Angell Auditorium C.

This is one of the most meaningful experiences I’ve had at the University of Michigan. It was a culmination of everything I’ve learned from being a member of the A/PIA community. We made progress with this conference. We talked about colorism, identity, our untaught history. How to be an activist in your own way, whether that’s through slam poetry or public service work. Wherever the high schoolers were in their journey, my hope was that they took something back with them. Like realize they’re having a lunch box moment and being able to name it as so. Or educate someone about the history behind the Model Minority Myth. Or feel a sense of pride when they check Asian off in the Race/Ethnicity box.

Despite our progress, I know there’s a lot of work that still needs to be done. We need to work toward making the Pacific Islander part of A/PIA more visible. We need to talk about class differences. We need to contact more rural schools so that A/PIA students don’t feel like they’re alone. That being said, I’m hopeful because our executive board is young and each generation brings new voices, even better and louder than the last. My one aspiration for A/PIA High School Conference is for it to always continue growing. I have no doubt that it will ever cease.

By: Tiffany Huynh

Constellation: A Culture Show

On November 9th, the Global Scholar Program’s Advisory Council hosted “Constellation: A Culture Show” with help from the BLI Small Grant. As a part of the event, individuals from the community performed cultural dances, sang, played instruments, gave cultural presentations, and performed comedy routines. In addition to performance-based representations of different cultures, we also displayed photography and art, played multicultural music, constructed a photo booth, and hired a henna artist. Furthermore, we had individuals who came to the event write their name, fun memory, or tidbit on pre-cut stars and place them on a “constellation”. Additionally, we also provided cultural dishes and desserts from various restaurants around Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti.

Constellation was a night in which people from all different backgrounds and cultures were able to come together and celebrate. It provided not only a space for people to showcase their own customs and cultures but was a space for people to learn about the cultures of the individuals around them.

Constellation provided a space for people to come together to celebrate our cultural differences and our multicultural university community. With over 250 people attendance, we were able to come together as a diverse community to celebrate ourselves, our heritage, and our diverse experiences.

By: Emily Currier

Civic Dinners: Opportunities to Learn Through Connection

It was a Saturday night, and like many Saturday nights, I just wanted to relax with my friends. This night, I was especially exhausted, though – I had just wrapped up the Net Impact National Conference, a 3-day conference in Phoenix, Arizona on the intersection of business, social impact and sustainability. The conference had consisted of 7 breakout sessions, 4 key note speakers, and a career exposition. There had been thousands of attendees from Net Impact’s 380+ chapters in over 40 countries, so there had been numerous opportunities for networking as well. I, along with the other 10 attendees from the University of Michigan, felt content but exhausted.

But instead of heading back to our lodgings or going out to celebrate, we challenged ourselves one last time through a Civic Dinner. Civic Dinners is a national organization bringing together strangers to discuss hot button issues, like race, gender, politics and more. The dinner consists of one volunteer host (who receives training from the organization), 6-10 guests, 3 big questions on the pre-selected topic, and an ensuing conversation. It’s a special opportunity to meet new people and hear diverse opinions – the attendees are more comfortable sharing intimate experiences and perspectives, both because of the mutual intentions of the group, and because sometimes it’s easier sharing with strangers. I had gone to a Net Impact Conference-affiliated Civic Dinner the year before, and invited my peers to sign up with me.

The topic of my specific dinner was Common Ground. This aimed to encourage participants to grow more comfortable sharing their political beliefs, to get outside of their echo chambers and hear something new, and finally, to recognize the humanity in all people, no matter their political affiliations. The specific questions addressed how we formed our political opinions, times when we’d change our mind, and one potentially controversial opinion we held. Due to the polarized nature of politics in the US today, I was excited to engage with the other participants, but nervous to share and hear diverse political beliefs.

My dinner was different than expected. There were actually 12 participants due to a sign-up glitch, so it was less of a discussion and more a series of short presentations. However, this did allow a greater variety of opinions to be shared. Due to the social impact/sustainability focus of the conference, our political beliefs were all pretty close; however, hearing different stances on different political issues was still exciting but stressful. Each time I presented, I was trembling a little and very nervous – it took a lot of courage to share political beliefs, due to their inherent personal and intimate nature. However, it was a great opportunity to get out of my comfort zone and learn from the strangers around me, and I’m extremely glad I went.

This dinner was more than one conversation – it was an experience that challenged my leadership skills and developed new ones. I literally engaged the world by meeting and talking to Net Impact students and professionals from around the US, and even some who’d travelled internationally to be at the conference. It was amazing to hear the differences between the places we’d grown up, and to find our commonalities despite them. Learning about these new opinions gave me more context for why some people have the strongly help political beliefs they had, and prepared me to better engage with a variety of stakeholders going forward, since I can now be more empathetic. I also improved my active listening skills, since I had to be engaged to encourage other participants to be vulnerable, but couldn’t show my support vocally due to the large number of participants. I’m excited to apply these active listening skills and my strengthened empathy in my leadership roles and positions going forwards.

So while it wasn’t the wild celebration most students might have liked on a Saturday night, the Civic Dinner was an integral part of my conference experience. I was pushed to meet conference attendees from other states and even countries, and heard about the role of politics in their lives, and how they’d formed their political beliefs. I grew more comfortable with difficult conversations, and with asking difficult questions, through pushing myself to be uncomfortable. I also heard different political beliefs and the reasons behind them, which pushed myself to learn from the participants’ different experiences. I am very glad I was able to participate in this Civic Dinner, and am grateful to the Barger Leadership Institute for funding this opportunity.

 

By: Charlene Franke

StoryTeller– A New Semester of Head-Start

StoryTeller is a brand new student organization that became official in March, 2018. Our mission is to promote interconnectivity and communication on campus by sharing unique stories of everyday individuals through short videos. At the initial foundational stage of the organization, human resources are essential to bring the projects we value on track, as well as to developing less mature ideas, bringing in more connections and inspirations and gathering a community of people sharing interests. Therefore, StoryTeller had the BLI Small Grant help recruitment events.

For the StoryTeller members as well as executives, it took some effort to walk through recruitment essentials and put together the materials. Designing a poster was not too difficult, but the logistics including where and when to print, adapting the design to different poster styles offered, budgeting and coordinating schedules within the team was a lot of confusion and going back and forth with the progress. Without a skilled and familiar member able to take responsibility of the whole process, the executives explored various options and supported each other during. We took it as valuable experience for similar needs in the future, and believe that without difficulties would not come fluency and mastery.

As a group the members reviewed our mission together. At the events (Northfest and Festifall), members went into roles where they can shine, while helping peers prepare and step up to do the difficult attention grabbers and pitching. When we encountered challenges–at Festifall our table was at a location with little flow–we explored options (such as moving the table) and took on challenges to overcome (going out in the crowd and distributing flyers).

Beyond the surprise and thrill of being able to attract interest and get sign-ups, we are so glad that with the grant, we had the practical opportunity to truly work as a team and present that image to the community -helping each other with difficulties, task delegation, encouraging each other to take challenges, forgiving of mistakes and recognizing achievements. With this mindset we are planning to restructure the organization into small project teams, as well as developing new project directions such as new film techniques, podcast and filmathon.

We are excited about a new year of new stories.

By: Li Wang

“Mental Health Baggies”

On a cold, cloudy day the week before finals, we stood in the middle of the Diag handing bags out to the hundreds of student bustling back and forth to their last couple classes of the semester.

It probably didn’t appear so at first, but the bags were the product of a project on mental health awareness on campus. Dubbed by our group as ‘mental health baggies’, they contained not only a generous amount of free candy and chocolate, but also a pamphlet that contained mental health resources, self-care tips, phone numbers for various hotlines, and tips for talking to a friend who might be going through a rough period.

In essence, the bags were meant to be a small way to raise awareness and provide resources to students who might be experiencing issues with their mental health. The bags not only provided resources for individuals to utilize during the stress and strain that is finals week, but also provided a small treat to hopefully brighten the day of students whose minds were filled with concerns about finals, papers, and summer plans.

When our group began working on the project for our work in the BLI Leadership Lab, we set out with a desire to address some of the mental health issues that exist on campus. After spending time talking with various university and student organizations on campus, we realized that often students are not of some of the free services that exist for them on campus, so we decided to create a resource that would list many of these services. Additionally, by handing out the bags during the week before finals, we felt that our small project would have the most amount of impact and potentially reach someone who was deeply in need.

Our experiences researching mental health resources and awareness on campus really opened our eyes to the deficits and stigma that still surrounds the issue on campus. In the future, we all hope to continue our work in raising awareness for mental wellness and psychological well-being on campus. We would like to thank BLI for their generosity and support of our project, and we look forward to continuing our work with BLI in the upcoming semesters.

By: Emily Currier

Blood Drives United

Blood Drives United is not the best-known club on campus. Talk to someone about ‘BDU’ and they’ll probably squint and ask for clarification. Even dropping the name of the competition we run each year, Blood Battle, a series of blood drives where we collect over 2500 pints of blood, doesn’t elicit much of a reaction. Our lack of a profile on campus is something of a problem for a club that aims to engage more than 10% of the student body in donating blood. For us more than anyone, visibility is key.

So this year, we’ve decided to take tips from other popular clubs such as Dance Marathon that have the largely engagement we’re looking for. This year, we’ve decided to have mass meetings for the first time ever. BLI was instrumental in funding our very first one.

Previously, we’ve relied largely on service frats to staff our drives. But we want our own following, independent of those groups. To that end, this year BLI helped us rent a room and buy pizza for any interested volunteers. We ended up having a great time: I met plenty of freshmen who would never have had the opportunity to get involved in BDU if not for this meeting, and hopefully many of them will be joining our leadership as well.

Building a Team and Engaging the World can seem like some of the most obvious BLI habits, but as our club demonstrates, often we fail to adequately engage them. This meeting was our first step towards becoming better, more fully involved leaders in charge of a club, not just a competition, and we are very grateful to BLI for giving us that opportunity. We hope every other club on campus can take the time to think about what leadership habits they’re overlooking so they too can have an experience like we did.

Be a Hero at the Big House, 2012

By Willa Hart

Blockchain at Michigan

Our Blockchain at Michigan team was stunned to hear the Director of MIT’s Digital Currency Initiative kick off the Crypto Springs conference with a powerful statement:“I hope it all tanks.” Neha Narula, a Ph.D. from MIT, TED speaker, and avid advocate for blockchain, challenged the audience to cut through the hype and focus on user-centric design, technology, and the shared values of the crypto community.

Following Narula’s opening, leaders at Crypto Springs engaged in thought-provoking dialogue exploring technological advancements in blockchain and the indispensable value of user-centric design. Sarah Gregory of Coinbase led a roundtable discussion on how blockchain enthusiasts can explain to newcomers that cryptocurrencies have the potential to transform the world: “They are more than just another medium of exchange or a speculative investment.” She stressed the importance of providing people with a tangible reason for using cryptocurrency, such as faster international payments. Her vision for user-centric design gave us a perspective on how to create a narrative around the true value that crypto has to offer those beyond our community.

Digging deeper into user experience, Amber Baldet’s talk about the decentralized web sparked our team’s curiosity about the nuanced impact of data privacy in the world today. A key benefit of decentralization we often hear about is that users will be able to control their own data. In the information age, where big tech companies like Google, Facebook, and Amazon harvest and monetize their users’ data, many newcomers to blockchain find the data privacy aspect of decentralization irresistible. However, Baldet shared a compelling anecdote about her personal life that caused us to reconsider our views around convenience, privacy, and security.

Baldet spoke of how she captures moments with her young child by taking many photos, and that as a busy mother it would be difficult to sort through these photos herself to create an album of memories. She explained that as a user, she admires the convenience of technology when Google applies black-box algorithms to assemble a meaningful photo album out of thousands of pictures. Instead of pouring hours into selecting photos on her own, Baldet would prefer purchasing an algorithmically generated photo album from Google. Her unique perspective helped inform our team’s understanding of how users might sometimes overlook privacy and security in favor of convenience.

Amber Baldet Speaking on the Irony of Decentralization

During a lunch break, our team enjoyed the privilege of engaging in a roundtable discussion with Christina Lomazzo, the Blockchain Lead at UNICEF Innovation Ventures. We were excited to learn that UNICEF funds startups that create open-source technologies for social impact. Lomazzo detailed numerous opportunities in this area, such as the ability to track vaccines to their final destinations, the capacity to provide digital identities for the millions of undocumented people in the world, and the creation of task-based bounty networks for refugee camps. While we take powerful mobile technology and reliable network connectivity for granted, these luxuries do not yet exist in developing nations. Keeping this in mind, we recognized the importance of taking technological constraints into account when building products for everyone to use.

The Crypto Springs community reflects a microcosm of what our blockchain club is working to become: a diverse group of dedicated individuals united by the belief that blockchain technology has the ability to improve the world. With 25 engineers in our first cohort, Blockchain at Michigan will be building impactful decentralized applications and conducting research on scalability and privacy. Aly Oda, Nach Dakwale, David Kobrosky, and Dheera Vuppala are thrilled to bring the knowledge and values of Crypto Springs back to the University of Michigan to help develop the future leaders of the blockchain space.

Thank you to the Michigan College of Engineering, the Barger Leadership Institute, and the Crypto Springs Organizing Team for the generous support that made our trip possible.

By Nach Dakwale

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