Indiana University Students Model Leadership for Congo

The Giving Back to Africa Student Association (GBASA) at Indiana University hit the ground running in 2013 planning for its first annual spring benefit. “Teach Me, Congo,” hosted by The Pourhouse Café in Bloomington, Ind., on April 4, raised nearly $800 to aid Giving Back to Africa’s work at Centre Salisa. Sarah Baulac, director of special events for the School of Public and Environmental Affairs Undergraduate Student Association (SPEA USA), contacted Ann Marie Thomson at Giving Back to Africa about collaborating with GBASA on a project during the spring semester.

The movers and shakers of the IU GBASA and SPEAUSA © Benjamin Wiggins 2013 All rights reserved

With the help of volunteers from SPEA USA, the two organizations teamed up and divided into seven committees to plan the event.

The auctions and acquisitions committee worked to secure donations from Bloomington businesses to auction at the event, as well as to create handmade items from Congolese cloth to sell. The catering committee worked with two caterers to developed menus for both the benefit and the non-profit panel presented at SPEA on April 1.

Marketing, the biggest committee, secured advertisements and news coverage in local newspapers about the benefit. Members also created fliers for both events and distributed them across campus.

The hard work of committee members from both student associations paid off the night of the event. Attendees were treated to the music of student performers Square Peg Round Hole, the Afro-Cuban Ensemble and the Sam Hoffman Trio. Photos taken of and by students at Centre Salisa were printed and matted for a small photo exhibit hung at the Pourhouse Café.

“Teach Me, Congo” was a huge project for GBASA members, and it would not have been possible without the help of SPEA USA. In addition to raising money, the benefit increased awareness about the ways Giving Back to Africa fosters education in Mpasa II through project-based learning.

After the event, GBASA organized a call-out meeting for students interested in joining the student association. Students who learned about GBASA at the event, along with SPEA USA members who have decided to join the association, will continue to increase awareness about Giving Back to Africa through art and outreach events the following academic year.