The Skidmore News had the opportunity to interview, Nikhita Winkler, President of the African Heritage Awareness Club.
Q) What is the African Heritage Awareness club and why was it founded?
A) The African Heritage Awareness club (AHA) was founded for students who are of African heritage to have a place where they can build discussion and share their culture in a space with students who are interested in learning about African cultures. It was also founded with the purpose to bring more culture and cultural awareness to the Skidmore and Saratoga community, and to fill the gap in the education departments where there are not many courses representing Africa.
Q) What is a typical meeting like?
A) A typical AHA meeting starts off with everyone in the room doing a dance (roll call) to get the energy going. Then there will be updates from events that have taken place during the weekends (we share pictures and videos), as well as E-board updates. We then spend some time discussing future events and ideas. The second half of the meeting is all about discussion topics and presentations of countries/documentaries.
Q) Africa is a large continent. Is there a specific region that your club focuses on, or do you try to cover it all?
A) You are right. Africa is very large and then there are the other countries which are of African heritage/decent, making it even larger. We try to cover as many countries as we can, but it often depends on our members and which countries they represent or have sufficient knowledge about.
Q) When you raise awareness, are you focusing on a specific aspect of African heritage (e.g. cultural, political)?
A) We focus on raising cultural awareness and then we tune into specific issues about which to raise awareness, such as media advertising of Africa in America. We tackle issues and concerns as they come or as the topics arise during conversations in our general meetings. In addition, we hope to start collaborating with certain departments, such as the Anthropology department, to give students a more integrated experience of our native cultures which they learn about in class.
Q) What kind of events do you host, and what events can we look forward to seeing in the future?
A) We just performed during Peace Week in the Gannet Auditorium Lobby as an introduction to the screening of "Sweet Dreams," which is a documentary film about Rwandan women and their uprising after the Rwandan genocide. We played drums and did some cultural dancing as well as a presentation on Rwandan History. We also hosted a Game Night on Case Green, where we played traditional games with free pizza and African music. For the rest of the semester we plan to have two movie nights, our main event (AHA Festival), a themed Falstaff party, and an Africa in Focus Week. For the spring semester we will have similar events, but instead of a main event we will have a Charity month.
We also plan to have African food served in D-hall, give African Drum and Dance workshops and bring in some speakers. In addition to our own events, we hope to collaborate with other clubs.
6) Is there anything else you would like to the student body to know about the African Heritage Awareness club?
A) We are a new club, and we are not only a cultural and performing club, but also a club that aims to raise money through our activities for a charity we will donate to. We welcome everyone to join in on one of our meetings and enjoy the warm energy we share and hopefully learn something new about the largest and richest continent on earth.
AHA meetings are held every Wednesday from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the ICC (second floor of Case).