University of Washington, Bothell African American Student Union holds inspiring gathering/ Around Town
By SUZANNE G. BEYER
Bothell Reporter Columnist
March 16, 2011 · 2:43 PM
The University of Washington, Bothell (UWB) hosted the first African American Student Union (AASU) breakfast last month at the college’s North Creek Event Center.
The blessing of the event came in the form of musicians, clad in bright-colored traditional African garb, beating various drum rhythms to welcome UWB and Cascadia College students and staff. Seated at round tables, participants were invited to meet their neighbors. At our table was a homesick student looking for a connection, a young man from Senegal whose major is business and a high-school student filled with anticipation for a bright future.
Cascadia psychology professor and UWB guest lecturer Panagiotis Hatziandreas addressed attendees with an assignment he gave his students in class.
“Write an essay answering this question: ‘Who are you?’”
“‘Who are you?’ is that fundamental existential question answered by Descartes in this way, ‘I think therefore I am,’” noted professor Hatziandreas.
Student Lawrence F. James II accepted his professor’s challenge to this thought-provoking question, and read his moving essay at the event.
For Lawrence, it’s those people who came before him, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, The Little Rock Nine and who will come after him, is what defines who he is.
He quotes Haile Selassie, “Throughout history it has been the inaction of those who could have acted, the indifference of those who should have known better, the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most, that has made it possible for evil to triumph.”
Lawrence also answers the question “Who am I?” by saying, “I am the hope.”
Lawrence knows he can’t change the past, but holds an enthusiastic optimism for the future. He will passionately play his role by positively influencing people he meets.
The room exuded an African warmth and culture. Wood-carved face masks, represented tribes from the Congo, with each piece unique to its tribe. Intricately carved canes held by kings and presidents symbolized power. These sturdy canes, passed down to a successor, represented the legacy of past generations.
The AASU event provided an opportunity for students and staff to meet, network and draw inspiration from one another.
The message rang clear that through AASU, students serve as role models around campus and off. Speakers told of AASU community service on Martin Luther King Day, how this year, members painted an assisted-living facility and planted 40 trees in the UWB/Cascadia wetlands. The organization also provides ongoing outreach to Seattle’s high schools.
AASU serves as a social gathering place on campus, as well as a place to share culture. One speaker described life in Nigeria as a sense of family and unity, despite 700 languages spoken, and felt the same benefits of unity through AASU.
Rochelle Moore, president of AASU, proudly offers the AASU Academic Grant, a scholarship available to all UWB freshmen.
“Freshmen students must submit an essay based on the given prompt, then be interviewed by AASU officers,” says Rochelle.
The inspirational AASU annual breakfast event will be most anticipated next year.
To learn more about AASU, contact Rochelle at Rochellemoore17@yahoo.com or (360) 292-2023.
Suzanne G. Beyer is a Bothell resident.Contact Bothell Reporter Columnist Suzanne G. Beyer at firstname.lastname@example.org.