Conference exposes students to Africa

A group of people from across the world will come to USF beginning Thursday to raise awareness about the relationships among the World African Community.

The conference, “International Conference on Relationships among members of the World African Community,” will have a list of approximately 40 speakers, including Randall Robinson, president for TransAfrica, which is an organization that has influenced U.S. politics in international black leadership.

Humphrey Regis, associate professor for the Institute on Black Life and coordinator for the conference, said the highlights of the conference will be the panel discussion about HIV/AIDS in Africa on Thursday morning at 10:15 a.m. in the Marshall Center. Regis said one of the student sessions, “Many Faces of Africa,” will give students the opportunity to learn about Africa’s culture.

“(It) will allow students to be exposed to people from different parts of Africa, and tell them what life is like,” Regis said. “The activities, growing up and how they earn a living. Something to become aware of.”

Robinson is known internationally as a spokesman for continuing American support for Africa. He will speak at the conference on Thursday. There will be a presentation on Friday made by people of the community.

This will give the “number of people in Tampa Bay who offer aid and assistance to bay area people, an opportunity to present,” Regis said.

There will also be a panel discussion on the topic of cultural strengths and black family.

Jeffrey Okogbaa, director for the Institute on Black Life, said the conference was developed through conversation among the staff and a research committee. Okogbaa said while the conference is not new, it will have some differences this year.

“This conference is a way to make the community a part of the university and the university a part of the community,” Okogbaa said.

“What is different is the effort to reach out into the community.”Regis said when the conference was first advertised, the Institute on Black Life received a lot of positive feedback from the campus nationally and worldwide. Some of the earliest registries for the conference were from Haiti, he said.

“One objective of the conference is to help understand the relationships and issues between the African people,” Regis said. Regis said students who attend the conference will have the opportunity to learn about relationships in Africa.

“Many conference sessions are directed in providing a lot of information and insights to relationships with African-American people,” Regis said. “The practical, everyday aspect, as well as academic and scholarly.”

In addition, speakers from Canada, the Virgin Islands and other states will discuss aspects of these relationships among black people.

There will be research presentations made by students and faculty at USF, as well.

Contact Noelle Lontok at