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ASA hosts third annual conference

| Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Notre Dame African Students Association (ASA) will host its third annual midwestern conference, “This Is New Africa,” from Feb. 7 to Feb. 9.

The goal of the conference is to educate students at Notre Dame and other universities about African culture and the issues facing the continent, ASA president Ihuoma Nwaogwugwu said.

“There are a lot of different perceptions people have of Africa, and [we want] to show that we’ve progressed into being a bigger, better place and try to dispel a few of the misconceptions there might be out there in Africa as a whole,” she said.

Nwaogwugwu said the conference, which will include participants from the University of Michigan and Purdue University, will consist of a mixer Feb. 7 in LaFortune Student Center, a basketball game on the morning of Feb. 8 and a keynote speaker that afternoon.

Nwaogwugwu said the speaker, who has not yet been confirmed, will be someone who studies or works with African concerns.

“Every year we select somebody who is currently working in the African diaspora to come in and discuss with us based on our theme,” she said.

On the evening of Feb. 8, there will be a showcase of African-themed music, dance performances and poetry readings in Stepan Center. Nwaogwugwu said the showcase will include Dance Africa, Troop ND, First Class Steppers and several individual performers.

“People can just come together, dance, have fun, listen to a bunch of African music,” she said.

The conference will conclude with a prayer service in the Coleman-Morse chapel and a brunch in the lounge, Nwaogwugwu said.

“There’s going to be praise and worship, and it’ll be a good culmination of the weekend,” she said.

In the 21 days leading up to the conference, ASA co-vice president Rosie Olang said she is posting information about African culture and current events on the conference’s Facebook page: Annual ASA Weekend — This Is New Africa 2015.

“Everything from fashion,to politics, to football and current events,” she said. “The more stories you hear, the easier it is not to form a single narrative about a place.”

Nwaogwugwu said ASA, which meets twice a month and hosts several events throughout the year, provides a place for students who are African or who are interested in Africa to come together and learn about the continent.

“Our goal is to get a group of people that are like-minded, have some sort of interest in Africa,” she said. “… A lot of us are from Nigeria, and we have people from Tanzania, other countries like that. We come together, and we discourse about Africa. We want to enlighten campus more about – whether it’s positive or negative – things about Africa, because I think it’s a place that a lot of people don’t know about.”

Nwaogwugwu said the conference is open to anyone who wants to learn more about Africa.

“It’s, one, knowing that we’re a club, because I don’t know if a lot of people know about our club,” she said. “Two, if you have any interest in Africa, we would love for you to come, and if you don’t know much about it, we’d love for you to come and learn.

“… Since we have such a broad group, people can share from personal experiences and from things that they’ve learned and get the discussion going about Africa as a whole.”

Nwaogwugwu said students can register for the conference online. Registration costs $20 and includes all events and a t-shirt.

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About Emily McConville

Emily McConville is a news writer and photographer for the Observer. She is a senior studying history and Italian with a minor in journalism. She is from Louisville, KY and lives off-campus.

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