Universities statewide to attend ASA conference at MNSU this weekend

The 2017 Minnesota Africa Student Association Conference is set to be a spectacle that will bring people from all over Minnesota together to share African culture and heritage.

The free conference will take place over this coming weekend, beginning Friday, Oct. 27 and is full of invigorating activities.

Friday will be a welcome night for the various universities coming to Minnesota State University, Mankato, which has the honor of hosting this event for the first time. Some of the universities joining the conference include: University of St. Thomas, St. Catherine University, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, St. Cloud University and University of Minnesota – Duluth.

The majority of the programs scheduled for the conference, including the Friday night welcome that starts at 7 p.m., will be taking place in the Centennial Student Union Ballroom. The keynote speaker for the conference will be Nigerian-born artist and graduate from University of Minnesota-Duluth, Daniel Oyinloye.

Oyinloye will touch on various topics to do with African Heritage and issues currently facing the continent. Oyinloye is also a storyteller, community organizer and an activist in the Duluth community working mostly with the youth.

There will also be a lip-sync battle on that Friday which will act as an opener for the various socio-educational activities planned for the following day.

The conference is set to run throughout the entire day on Saturday starting at 9 a.m. in the CSU Ballroom, where a volunteer activity is scheduled in collaboration with Cards for Kids. This non-profit organization aims to uplift kids’ spirits one card at a time all over the globe. The volunteer activity will run for about two hours with breakfast included in the program.

After the volunteer activity there will be a break, followed by a short leadership workshop beginning at 1 p.m. that will be run by Oyinloye in CSU 201 and will focus on leadership skills in the millennial generation. The leadership workshop will run for about an hour before the soccer tournament, which all universities invited to the conference are eligible to compete in, is scheduled between 2 p.m to 5 p.m. in the Schellberg Gymnasium.

Once the champions of the soccer tournament have been crowned, the final program scheduled for the conference will be the main attraction, the Battle of the ASA’s, which will commence in the CSU Ballroom at 6:30 p.m. The battle will comprise of numerous activities such as singing, a poetry slam, dancing and several others competitions.

Samson Akintan, the president of the Africa Student Association at MNSU, stated that the idea of developing the conference and incorporating the Battle of the ASA’s was one that stemmed from the first competition that took place last year.

“The reason why the conference was prompted initially was to encompass more activities such as volunteering and the leadership workshop that would give students, especially African students, the chance to connect with each other as well as form long lasting networks,” Akintan said.

Akintan stated that they hope to implement a rule for next year that the winner of the Battle of ASA will be hosting the next conference. This will be implemented if the first conference runs smoothly.

“The ASA intends to use the conference as a trial to see if the outcome will be as successful as the Battle of the ASA that took place last year at MSU,” Akintan said. “The plan put in place last year was for the winner to host the next Battle of the ASA’s, but since the event was shifted into a weekend long conference, MSU was the university of choice as it has already held the prosperous battle.”

The Battle of the ASA’s last year was a great success and the conference this year seeks to still include all the events from the past year, but on a bigger platform. The 2017 Minnesota Africa Student Association Conference will be a unique, unmissable event that will provide a sublime environment for all students to interact, mingle and create everlasting memories they will cherish endlessly.

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