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Lunar New Year

Our first ever Alpha Kappa Psi Lunar New Year was part of our organization’s goal to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion among our members. With such a large presence of students from different cultural backgrounds, this event allowed us to experience cuisines and traditions that are often practiced during Lunar New Year. Our event showcase dishes from all different regions within Asia, including Vietnamese Spring Rolls, Chinese Egg Rolls, Chinese Dumplings, Chinese Bok Choy sides, and Traditional Stir-fry.

The biggest learning opportunity was teaching other members of Alpha Kappa Psi who had not previously been exposed to Asian dishes and the techniques for making dumplings and egg rolls. From the meticulous process of perfecting the layering of the stuffing and sauces inside the egg roll to the steaming and frying process of the dumplings, members in our organization learned how to make these dishes from scratch. This was important because many of our members who led the workshop had been doing these activities in preparation for Lunar New Year for many years growing up. It was an opportunity for our members who celebrated Lunar New Year to share with all of our members their passion for cooking and their culture.

One of the most impactful feedback that we received during the event was that everyone was excited and curious to learn about the history of each dish. This included learning the names, origin, and function of different ingredients and tools that were used to make each dish different. As a result, we were able to not only educate people on the cuisine but also the history behind the dishes. This event allowed members to also share stories about their experiences celebrating Lunar New Year to shed light on the variation of methods to celebrate the holiday. We are thankful for BLI’s support in helping our members learn more about Lunar New Year and wish everyone a Happy Year of the Pig!

By Rachel Levine

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

Team Diversity – Bias Incident Reporting

Our original vision called for a student maintained response system to bias incidents on campus, but we quickly realized that this was not realistic for our time constraint. We then decided to simply focus on the University’s bias incident reporting log. After realizing that none of us actually knew how to report a bias incident to the university, we made this the focus of our project. We partnered with Expect Respect and held a successful tabling event that taught students how to identify a bias incident and all the ways to report it to the University. People were able to enjoy a free donut, take a flyer with all the information we gave them, and take swag (stickers, buttons, and bracelets) provided by Expect Respect. We sent out a survey before the event and learned that 76.9 % of students did not feel confident identifying a bias incident, and 50% of those students did not know how to report one to the University. After visiting our table, 84.1% felt confident they could identify a bias incident and 62.2% knew how to report an incident to the university. We were able to teach students how to report a bias incident in a short amount of time and make a small positive impact for diversity in our campus community.

Three BLI Leadership Habits that guided our project were “Start Small,” “Build a Team,” and “Collect, Combine, Create.” Initially, we found that it was difficult to find a project that was small enough to have a big impact on the community. Once we completely changed our project, we were able to better collect our thoughts, combine as a team, and create a project that would benefit the student population. In our weekly meetings, we welcomed new ideas and combined our visions of a successful project. Finally, we were able to build a team, not only within our immediate group, but the community at large. We partnered with Expect Respect to develop a project that increased awareness on what a bias incident is and how to report it.

One of the biggest challenges that we faced was that our issue was quite broad, and knowing our time and resources were a bit limited, we needed to rethink our initial idea. Thus, we opted to develop a plan in which a meaningful impact can be made but just executed on a smaller scale. Since our initial plan was ambitious, we realized this soon enough and reconstructed our project idea to better meet the expectations set for us. As mentioned in the BLI habits that were exercised, we focused on starting small and developing a more realistic perspective to tackle the issue at hand, which was the lack of exposure to reporting bias incidents. After our event, this method proved to be successful as we were able to gather a significant amount of people to come by and grab a donut while learning how to report bias incidents!

Our team included people from three out of the four grade levels, and all different experiences at the University of Michigan. Our team really succeeded in collaborating because we are able to combine our different perspectives, and contribute each of our individual vision for what this project should look like, to make an end product we will all proud of. When we began working, we all had different ideas of what this project should look like, but by taking the time during our meeting to describe what we wanted to get out of this experience, we were able to make sure everyone’s ideas were equally represented. Other than that, everyone in our group were just kind to one another. The respect each member of the group gave to each other was part of the reason why our group had such an accepting climate: it was very comfortable to contribute new ideas. As opposed to what our group succeeded in, the primary area where our group struggled was finding a good time for us all to meet. It was really hard to all meet up at the same time since we had time-conflicting prior commitments. We ended up making it work in the end though by utilizing online messages software like GroupMe to communicate ideas.

As we were working on this project, our group gained many skills that were useful for personal development. We learned to inform other team members when problems arise such as schedule conflict and to give each other’s honest feedback. This allowed us to have an open and efficient communication in a group setting. We also learned to formulate a clear and practical goal that our group could accomplish in a limited time and resources which helped us develop a smart planning strategy for future projects. It was definitely hard to coordinate meeting times with not only the other team members but also our partner Expect Respect, but we learned to still be actively engaged through different means of communication and to be more flexible. The acquisition of these essential skills defines the success of our project.

The project was a great success, and as such, we are excited about potentially putting on this event again, potentially once or twice per semester. Since the logistical elements have now been figured out, it would not be too difficult to put this event on again, and we were able to successfully connect with a lot of students in a short time period. Moving forward, our team is considering continuing to work together and with BLI to sponsor this donut event once-twice per semester, but we also have individual goals within BLI. All of us are interested in continuing our leadership here in some capacity, whether than be through trips, the capstone, or potentially teaching the course next semester!

 

By: Devan O’Toole, Evie Winter, Mehrin Ahmed, Sophie Partington, Hannah Dang, and Ashya Smith