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10 November 2009 

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African College Students in US Promote their Heritage


09 November 2009

Some African college students have found a way to share a piece of the continent with their American peers.  

No more home-sickness

The African Students Association at the University of Maryland is creating a home away from home. The group sponsors activities to promote awareness of African life and culture. The president, Idris Shinaba, says he wants to help change stereotypes of Africa.

The group meets weekly and discusses various topics. On this day the topic is "Fresh off the Boat." Students discuss challenges of assimilating into the American society.  

For example, one student says "I noticed that in high school, the first day people come, they had their dashiki on. By the next week, there was calling people 'yo man,' cursing at people. I think it's unfortunate that people feel like they have like to assimilate to this country and can't (embrace) their own culture."

Another student says "In high school, there was like some new [fad]…where every word you speak is Crio [like] 'hey my brother.' But in middle school and elementary school, you hide the fact that you (were) African."

Like-minded

Americans are also members of the association. The group's secretary, Guillaume Kasten-Sportes, is a white American who says he joined the group to practice French, his first language.

Lakeisha Ames is an African American student. She says she does not like the distinction between the black cultures on the campus. Ames hopes that one day all black people will be united.

"I think that the main difference is that some people came here in chains and other people came here freely."

The students give back to Africa through a fundraising campaign. Reggae artist Damian Marley, son of the late Bob Marley, is scheduled to perform this year. The proceeds will benefit the Waterworks Development Program in Africa.

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