Inside the Africana House

{{youtube:medium:left|NJ0EMnA-3hE, Living in W&M's Africana House}}

William & Mary is a campus proud of its strong sense of community. While that community spirit can be seen all around the university, one place where it is most visible is the Africana House in the Randolph Complex.

“It’s really nice to come home to a family here and have everyone be here for me,” said Phenan Kidane ’16. “The biggest reason why I can say the house is a community is because I know that they are there for me.”

For Kidane, an international relations major, “The nice thing about the house is even though you have a roommate or have a single, everyone at the house is a roommate.”

The Africana House is more than a close-knit community. As part of William & Mary’s special interest housing, Africana House provides students interested in African culture an informal setting where they can learn about African history, cultures and current events. The Africana House frequently hosts educational and social events in conjunction with the African Culture Society, and members of the Africana Studies program have a close relationship with both the society and the house.

In addition, a number of the Africana House’s residents have lived in Africa before, providing a unique perspective for residents in what Resident Assistant Tattiana Bamba ’14 calls “an apartment of 20 people.”

“I haven’t taken an Africana Studies class, but I think it definitely would be beneficial to take one,” said Taylor White-Welchen ’16. “However, I think just being around the Africana House environment is sort of like its own class … It definitely embodies the whole living and learning community because you’re learning while you’re learning while you’re living and not even thinking about the fact that you’re learning so much true and honest information about the culture of Africa.”

While living in the Africana House necessarily involves learning about African culture, the atmosphere is not quite what you might expect.

“Just because we live in the Africana House does not mean that our dialogue is constantly about Africa,” Bamba said. “That’s how the learning gets done—just through regular dialogue.”

By providing an avenue for organic cultural experiences and fertile ground for lifelong relationships, the Africana House has become a critical part of the William & Mary experience for those who chose to make it a part of their lives.

“I think that we bring a unique experience to William & Mary, not because we’re diverse as people, but because we really found a niche here and we have a place where people can be themselves without feeling judged or feeling that they need to act a certain way,” Bamba said.