Student group looks to connect students from Africa

Seynabou Youm is far from her native country of Senegal — 5000 miles to be exact — but feels right at home in Lincoln.

Youm, a UNL student, has found her home away from home with the African Student Association, a student organization that looks to preserve African culture within international students. Youm, the president of ASA, hopes to connect all African students through the group.

“A lot of us are really far from home, which can be tough,’ Youm said. “We can provide a way for students to relate to each other about the problems that being in a different place can cause.”

Jacob Manyang is one of those students who is far away from his home country. Manyang, from South Sudan, feels like he has been accepted in Lincoln and at UNL since coming to the US eight years ago.

“I love it over here,” Manyang said. “People here in Nebraska are really nice.”

Manyang uses ASA to advocate for issues facing his people.

“I am trying to let the organization know about the issues that are facing my country and work with them to solve some of [the issues],” Manyang said.

Youm thinks contributions like Manyang’s fit perfectly into the mission of ASA. She believes that experiencing diversity is one of the strongest aspects of ASA.

“When you walk into our meetings it is such an open and inclusive environment because we’re from so many different backgrounds,” Youm said.

While Youm values the African community she has established at UNL, she encourages members to get involved in the general campus atmosphere as well.

“I learn so much more about myself and my own culture by interacting with people from another culture,” Youm said. “That’s how my cultural identity grew.”

Manyang agrees, which is why he plans to split time between America and South Sudan once he graduates. Manyang studies agronomy and crop production to learn the skills necessary to educate his home country on food security.

“My focus is to stay here and keep learning, but also go back and help [the South Sudanese],” Manyang said.

Youm’s goal is to continue to reach out to African students to continue to create an environment that celebrates and encourages the recognition of African culture.

“We represent over 50 countries so there’s so many students from so many cultural backgrounds that we can connect to each other,” Youm said.

Youm hopes that non-African students attend ASA’s events to learn about what interacting with new cultures can teach them. She believes experiencing diversity is one of the fundamental aspects of being a Husker.

“Being a Husker has many meanings to many people,” Youm said. “It may be pride in our football team, it might be pride in our educational institutions, but you can derive pride from being a Husker by being in an institution that allows you to be yourself and promote your unique culture.”

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