UNC’s Organization for African Students’ Interests and Solidarity has continued to create community among African students despite the pandemic — and was recently awarded for its efforts by a national group.
The National African Student Association awarded the UNC OASIS group with Chapter of the Year in January. OASIS was specifically recognized for its "Culture Shock" event, which celebrated and highlighted African culture and diversity.
“The overall mission of OASIS is to create a sense of family and community amongst Africans here at UNC,” Edmund Donkor, OASIS publicity co-chairperson, said. “It is a safe space for us to enjoy our culture and even spread our culture to others.”
Donkor said OASIS has not let COVID-19 deter the group from its mission.
"Culture Shock," traditionally an in-person event, was hosted in 2020 via Zoom. This allowed incoming first-years and OASIS alumni to be a part of the celebration.
“What really made their event special was the collaboration with other multicultural organizations," NAFSA President Benjamin Ogbonna said. "They put effort into including freshmen and alumni, and made a large impact on their local community.”
The award is given annually to a chapter that has created a substantial impact in its community and has a purposeful mission, Ogbonna said.
The "Culture Shock" event included performances from dance groups such as Kamikazi and Bhangra Elite, along with poetry and spoken word from Ebony Readers/Onyx Theatre. The event brought 50 attendees.
“The award helps to raise morale in this time because we have been doing a ton of work for our community,” OASIS President Mina Yakubu said. “To have that recognition from NASFA provides encouragement for us to do even more for our community."
Along with inspiring OASIS to continue its work on campus, the award brought more exposure to the group on the national level.
Yakubu was invited to attend an event put on by FACE Africa, an organization working to eradicate the water crisis in Sub-Saharan Africa. She said she was able to network with high-profile leaders who are doing work in Africa while spreading the mission of OASIS.
OASIS is continuing to plan events like a talent show and trivia night for this semester and beyond. The group looks forward to being able to meet in person and return to a sense of normalcy, Yakubu said.
“After my term, I really hope that OASIS continues to grow and continues to share our community,” Yakubu said. “I hope that we can bring light to what is the joy of our culture, but also the issues that countries in Africa are facing. Along with finding time to enjoy the community.”
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