New club unites African students



Aaron Yah, African Student Union president, and Willie Kim Kamara, the club’s adviser, speak to success coach Rachel Hammouri during the club fair Feb. 8.

CARMEN GUZMAN, Managing Editor

Aaron Yah loves reading books about his home country, Liberia. But it’s not enough – Yah wants to learn about what’s beyond his homeland’s borders.

“There’s always a lesson. The more you learn of people, the more you’re experienced in understanding,” Yah said.

After meeting economics instructor Willie Kim Kamara, a West African immigrant, Yah pitched forming an African Student Union at Eastfield. They both set out on a recruitment effort starting Spring 2023.

“I’m working on making more friends with Africans. An African student club is going to get more Africans together,” Yah said.

Yah was promptly selected as the club president for his initiative, said Kamara, who serves as the organization’s adviser.

I’m working on making more friends with Africans.

— Aaron Yah

However, recruitment has slowed. There were students who signed up in Fall 2022, but the majority went their separate ways after winter break.

“For the last several months, we’ve been trying to get it off the ground,” Yah said.

Communication and scheduling issues have also prevented the club’s leadership from pinpointing a date for their first meeting. 

“It’s a struggle getting the students to do something,” Kamara said. “It’s a new thing. They have never had this kind of exposure and I’m trying to introduce it to them.”

Several of the students who have expressed interest come from African countries such as Nigeria, Rwanda and Eritrea.

Even faculty have voiced support for the organization: anthropology instructor Selam Hailemariam, an Eritrean immigrant, said her support was inspired by participating in cultural student unions during her college days.

“You’ve got these amazing students at Dallas College, and they can bring their experience and share it with other Dallas College students,” Hailemariam said.

African student organizations were established at other Dallas College campuses, such as Richland and El Centro.

“I’ve seen it at Cedar Valley, I’ve seen it at North Lake, I’ve seen it at Richland, and it’s not just African students,” Hailemariam said.

Kamara founded an African Student Union at North Lake. Although it didn’t take off due to a lack of members, there remained momentum for students like Yah to pick up the pieces.

“I told [Kamara] that it was the best idea to establish one here as well. We have many African [students] here,” Yah said.

Difficulties in scheduling and interest continue to hold them back, but Kamara hasn’t lost focus with the goal to promote African culture.

It’s a big continent, and there’s different cultures.

— African Student Union adviser Willie Kim Kamara

“Many people misunderstand looking at Africa,” Kamara said. “It’s a big continent, and there’s different cultures. Therefore, we need to know each other and learn their culture.”

During the Feb. 8 club fair, one of numerous events where the African Student Union tried to interest students, Yah and Kamara decorated the table with a taste of their home continent. 

Sitting on an exotic cloth, a colored assortment of handmade trinkets, charms and other accessories rested on the stand. All of the items have origins from different countries.

“I never heard about [other countries], especially their culture,” Yah said. “If we come together and explain…what we do in Kenya, what we do in Liberia, what we do in Nigeria, we’re invited to know more about [Africa].”