BSU holds Africa Awareness Week
The seventh annual Africa Awareness Week, held the week of March 25, offers a chance for the campus community and area residents to learn more about this fast-developing continent.
Before the annual event was started, there were only a handful of courses at BSU focused on Africa. Now the institution is home to a minor in African studies, and, thanks to this annual event, students have a greater knowledge and awareness about the continent.
This week-long celebration offers opportunities for students and the campus community to broaden cross-cultural and international understandings. Drs. Sandra Faiman-Silva, professor of anthropology, and Louise Badiane, assistant professor of anthropology and coordinator of BSU’s African Studies program, (the latter who hails from Senegal) are the organizers behind the event. The theme for this year’s Africa Awareness Week is “Mandela’s Legacy: Social Change in Africa.” There will be music, dance, art, and lectures on topics including social change, political instability, immigration, HIV-AIDS and Muslin insurgency in Nigeria.
New this year is a curriculum workshop, “Incorporating Africa-related Curriculum Content in the Classroom,” to be led by Dr. Barbara Brown, outreach director of the African Studies Center at Boston University. An expert on African K-12 curriculum, she will help BSU students, faculty and educators from the region to introduce Africa-related curriculum and pedagogy into the classroom.
Funding for Africa Awareness Week has been received from a Bridgewater State University Promoting Diversity Grant, and from the Student Government Association. Additional funding was provided by the African Studies Program. Participants in Africa Awareness Week include the African Studies Program, the departments of anthropology, art, elementary education, geography, history, MAHPLS, music, social work, sociology, theater and dance, CIE, SGA, OSIL and OTL. Student club sponsors include the African Student Association, Anthropology/Archeology Club, Cape Verdean Student Association, Refined Movement, Free the Children, Social Justice League and the Afro-American Society.
Recently, we sat down with Professors Faiman-Silva and Badiane to discuss this year’s event.
Q: What was the impetus behind this program?
Dr. Faiman-Silva: There was a lack of information about Africa, and a need for consciousness raising about the continent, and we felt that a week’s worth of events would bring attention to the many issues that need to be addressed.
Dr. Badiane: Indeed, there needed to be greater sensitivity to the whole continent of Africa, both the challenges and opportunities there. It is really important to give students a balanced account of African issues. Most of the time they receive information about Africa that is negative. One of our goals is to also tell them the other side of the story that many don’t know.
Q: Why Africa?
Dr. Faiman-Silva: The continent has 54 different countries and many ethnic and cultural groups. There’s a diverse and rich environment for students to learn about. Some may even choose to one day pursue careers or travel in Africa.
Dr. Badiane: It’s such a growing continent. Africa has all the mineral resources and it’s a very politicized continent. It’s also a great way to teach our students about using their powers of critical analysis, to go beyond the superficial and simplistic explanations they get in the media.
Q: Speaking of students, many are involved in putting on this event. Can you talk about that?
Dr. Badiane: Our ultimate goal is to gradually give the students the leadership and to make this an event done by students for students. I think it’s important because it gives them the ownership of the event and it teaches them the skills of leadership. And what better way to really spread news about Africa than through students?
See below for a list of events that are part of this year's program.