Campus / News / April 23, 2014

Harambee searches for new place to call home

After the loss of their theme house, Harambee Club is searching for a new “home away from home.” Club president sophomore Maame Ackah is confident that they will find an interim “central place” as they seek more longstanding accommodation for the future.

International students seek a familiar community as they adjust to life in a foreign locale.  Coming from Ghana, Ackah found Harambee as a freshman when she was trying to adapt to life on campus. Since joining the club, she served as club treasurer this year and was recently elected as president.

Ackah recalls a night where she had trouble sleeping, still coming to grips with a new location and a new way of life. The Harambee president at the time, Tundun Lawani ‘14, invited her to Harambee House where she became fast friends with the rest of the members in the house.

“We are international students. We don’t have homes here, so it’s kind of like our home away from home. Every weekend most Harambee members and their friends come over and hang out. We cook, we eat, we just hang out and have a good time.”

Having a house to serve as a base location for the club was a key component in providing support; without the house, club members will look for another space to congregate.

“It’s going to be an adjustment because it was really our central point: anyone who needs something comes to the Harambee House.  It’s just kind of a loss in that sense that we don’t have a central place that will be our home away from home,” Ackah said.

“We will find a way to make it happen somewhere. For now I’m not too clear on where, but I know definitely we will find a central place.”

Harambee lost their house when they missed the window to apply for theme houses for next year. Restructuring in the theme housing process eliminated the long-term housing label that houses like Harambee and Queer & Ally House fell under.

As president, Ackah is looking into securing cultural center standing for the club, similar to what the Asian Cultural House achieved in spring 2012.

According to Ackah, both the campus and Harambee members would benefit from more permanent housing accommodations.

“Well, having a permanent house first and foremost for the Harambee members, they will have a place away from home that they can actually call home and go and gather.”

She has looked at ABLE as a model for how she would want a Harambee House cultural center to spread awareness on campus.

“In terms of the campus, if we were to get a cultural house, we would look to do something like ABLE. They’ve structured their house in such a way that when you enter you really understand what ABLE is about. You have a bit of their history, you have a bit of what they really are about,” Ackah said.

Ackah hopes that with a permanent house Harambee will be able to perform more outreach and interact more with the rest of campus

“We hope that we’d get a house where we can also share who we actually are with the campus.  What we’re about, a bit of our history. We’d be opening the house up to a lot of campus events É just breaking out and getting people to try and understand us and understand them in return.”


Tags:  campus life centralized location harambee Harambee House Queer & Ally House theme housing

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Julian Boireau
Julian Boireau is a senior majoring in international relations and minoring in French. This is his fourth year working for TKS, having served as co-news editor during his sophomore and junior years. He has been involved in journalism for seven years, serving as opinions editor of the newspaper and editor-in-chief of the literary magazine at Palisades Charter High School in Los Angeles, California. In September 2012, Julian received press credentials to attend the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City, where he reported on remarks by President Barack Obama and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney. He is also the recipient of back-to-back first place awards from the Illinois College Press Association for front page layout.

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