As an American university in Italy with a very international student body, the JCU community encourages cultural diversity and inclusiveness, particularly within student life. Founded in 2017, the Africans in the World Cultural Club has been able to put these concepts into action, especially with their recent Afrobeat dance class event. We recently interviewed three of the club members – Jaelin Watkins (President), Lenora Biche (Vice President), and Selma Coleman (Secretary) – to gather more insight about their new initiatives.
What inspired you guys to create the Afrobeat class?
“As a club, we realized we are all very upbeat and vibrant. Because the tradition of expressing ourselves through dance is rooted in many African cultures, we chose to organize the class to allow others to manifest themselves through dance as well,” said Leonora. She mentioned how the first class was meant as a sort of test to see if people would want to participate, and the turnout was a great success!
“The Afrobeat class was designed to promote greater inclusiveness within the JCU community,” Jaelin explained. “We do not want anyone to ever feel excluded, regardless of where they are from. This dance class allowed everyone who likes to dance to experience and engage with a small part of African culture. I realized that many people were enthusiastic about the event but were too shy to come dance. That shouldn’t ever matter because the purpose is to have fun together. I hope the event will grow and will be something students look forward to!”
What does the new logo represent for the Africans in the World Cultural Club?
Selma explained, “‘Funtunfunefu-Denkyemfunefu’ means ‘Siamese crocodiles’ in Ghanaian, and this is what the logo portrays. As you see, the crocodiles in the center are conjoined in unity and diversity. The unity is not perfect since they are fighting for food, but as you can see, it all goes to the same stomach no matter who eats it.” She continued, “All over Africa, there is this strong sense of diversity, but everyone seems to live in harmony with one another rather than being divided. Instead, we are united in our diversity, and that’s what represents us as a club.”
Any plans for your biggest event of the year, the annual African Art Gallery?
“Every art gallery we do has a different theme. This year’s art gallery is still a work in progress, but the theme will be family storytelling, which is an integral part of African culture,” Lenora noted. “Everyone comes together to tell stories of events that have occurred in the past, and we, as a club, want to keep this oral storytelling tradition going. The best part is that we will be able to express these stories through our own individual talents, whether it’s through art, music, dancing, poetry, or anything that expresses a literal story.”
It’s a big semester for the Africans in the World Cultural Club, so stay informed of their upcoming events by following their Facebook! Their next Afrobeat dance class will take place on November 7 in the Tiber Cafè and the Art Gallery will be held on November 23 in the Guarini Campus.