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Ubuntu at MSU

Published: Tuesday, 02 Oct 2018
Author: Global Youth Advancement Network
Department: Office of the Dean

Ubuntu is an Nguni Bantu term meaning "humanity". It is often translated as "I am because we are", or "humanity towards others" — a philosophy that four MSU organizations worked to promote among students.

On September 1st, MSU's Global Youth Advancement Network (GYAN), Alliance for African Partnership, Student Affairs and Services, and Rising Black Men — a black male mentorship group at MSU — hosted the first annual event, Ubuntu at MSU: Celebrating Unity in Diversity among African, African American, and Caribbean Students through Dining, Dance, and Dialogue.

To foster connection among and understanding of one another, the event began by gathering students into small discussion groups to examine specific challenges and stereotypes facing various people of African descent — particularly on MSU's campus. The discussions were led by MSU faculty and PhD students, and topics were related to three overarching themes that encouraged participants to reflect on their experiences, observations, feelings, and unification: "Addressing Stereotypes", "Understanding Self", and "More Similarities than Differences". Attendees dove deeply into these discussions, considering sub-topics of gender roles, cultural appropriation, support and solidarity, and more.

A pivotal moment in the event was during the rites of passage. This session brought all the students and faculty together at the end of the day, and gave them an opportunity to share highlights from the various sessions and walk them through the historical evolution of consciousness among black people.

 

Following these critical and constructive conversations, students were encouraged to "Dine and Dance" for the remainder of the event, which consisted of a variety of African, African American, and Afro-Caribbean cuisine, music, and dancing. Dance performances by Alpha Phi Alpha and the African Student Gala entertained the crowd during the picnic.

Ubuntu at MSU highlights the importance of learning about and understanding various cultures and perspectives, and that opening dialogues about social issues can lead to problem solving and collaboration — it didn't hurt to add a little fun, either!