The Thea Bowman AHANA and Intercultural Center (BAIC) emphasized themes of building community and developing identity at the annual AHANA Summit, which was held over Zoom on April 10.
“I think events like this just affirm … [that AHANA students] belong at BC or really just any kind of place where they feel marginalized … providing them the tools and the resources of how to navigate and how to embrace who they are in their identity,” said Danielle Date, assistant director of the BAIC.
Participants took part in small break-out room discussions, engaged with an alumni panel, and listened to keynote speaker Claire Johnson Allen, associate director of the Women’s Center, at the three-hour event.
“We just recently started overseeing the AHANA Summit, but the retreat was designed to just build community amongst AHANA students, highlight resources on campus, and just allow students to share their story, share who they were,” Date said.
Students of color don’t often get spaces where they can be vulnerable and share with one another, Date said. One of the goals of the event was to provide such a space, allowing students to look at trauma and discuss navigating a predominantly white institution.
“I felt that, you know, this space was important to have for students just to come and be, to talk, to share, you know, stories and hear from other people because sometimes I think students feel alone,” Date said.
Though the event was hosted on Zoom rather than its normal, in-person format over a weekend, Date said she thought the event was a success.
“They were able just to, you know, engage in fruitful conversations and get to know different people and start to just explore who they were and how they want their BC experience to be,” Date said. “I think it went well.”
Gianna Martinez, WCAS ’24, said the event was a success and highlighted the opportunities it gave.
“You’re getting that interaction with other individuals, other people of color, that are able to talk about their own experiences, and it’s pretty much an open floor, you know, a lot of people do make themselves vulnerable,” Martinez said.
Martinez spoke about the advice the panelists gave and the impression it left on her.
“Something that the panelists left me with was along the lines of being more courageous and sort of owning up the space that we take here at BC,” she said. “It’s not just a school for a certain set of individuals, it’s whatever you make it, so if you believe that you belong at BC, make it your school and that’s something that I really … took that to heart.”
Neal Bold, MCAS ’24, said he decided to attend the event to fulfill credit for Boston College’s Emerging Leader Program and also to speak to fellow AHANA students about what the BC experience is like.
“I thought that the best part for me was hearing the experiences of other people who know what it’s like to be an AHANA student at BC,” Bold said. “First of all, the student who talked on the alumni [panel], and I got some good practical sort of practical tips and … experiences that I could think back on once I’m on campus.”
Though Bold said in general he is skeptical about people making blanket classifications and generalizing all people of color into one group, he thought the BAIC did a good job executing the event and making it relevant.
“So I guess I was kind of skeptical of that but I think that they did a good job of making it relevant, or like presenting information and implementing a program that’s relevant to anyone who does fall under that umbrella,” he said.
Featured Image by Nicole Vagra / Heights Staff