- The good? African food!
- The bad? The African dance workshop was cancelled.
- So how was the food? Great – and very African! Only the okra was a bit slimy, but apparently that is how it is supposed to
- The size? No one really knows, but the Facebook group has 210 members.
- The people? From Africa or interested in Africa.
- The item? The ASC has a big, yellow scarf for its members, but only one guy bothered to wear it.
‘We want to live as brothers’
‘We want to live as brothers’, Edmond Douman, president of the African Students Community, explains. ‘It is very difficult to live abroad, to leave your family and be all alone, so this community helps us keep in touch with one another.’
‘Our main goal is to get African students together and get them to interact the African way, which is within a community’, Edmond explains. ‘Even if I have my own house, I can still go round to my neighbours and talk to them very easily. You feel that people are always around and care about you.’
For Edmond, the ASC has replaced the African community’s way of life. This has been his community for the past two years now. ‘That is what we do. We meet and play games, watch movies together, go to parties together and visit each other.’ ‘But we are also open to people who are interested in Africa’, Edmond explains.
He is dressed in traditional colourful African clothing. ‘If you just want to be a member for pleasure, we don’t care. We accept everyone.’
Jenneke Stegemans is one of those ‘foreign’ members. She is Dutch, but also on the board of the ASC. ‘The people, the culture, the food…’ Jenneke’s eyes twinkle when she talks about Africa. ‘I like so much about the continent. I joined because I have a lot of African friends and I want more people to get to know the culture.’
‘I am here to support the African students and to help them out’, Jenneke says of her role on the board. ‘Most of the African members only stay here for a year, sometimes two. I know a lot more about living here. I am kind of a bridge, I guess.’
The ASC is an active, well-organized community of students. Leaving aside the frequent activities, the community is best represented on Facebook. Almost a hundred posts are made each month by the 210 members. From African football players in the Netherlands, to pictures of Eritrea, to a local church service – everything gets discussed on the community’s page.
Andrew Banda used to be a student in Groningen, but he has moved back to Africa. However, he has returned to Groningen to visit the ASC, among other things. The community played a big role in Andrew’s student life, he says. ‘As an African student, there are a couple of challenges when studying abroad: knowing what to do and how to socialize. The ASC makes sure there is no gap between African students and other students. I am definitely visiting old friends here. It is very nice to be back.’
Interested? Check out the Facebook group.