Essay Contest Winner: West Africa Through a Different Lens

Aileen Bi ('12) won the essay contest on West Africa, which ties in to the global studies focus for the third nine weeks. The essay asked students to view this vast region through a sharper, more thoughtful lens without relying solely on the negative images conveyed by the media. In her essay, Aileen addressed the dangers of stereotyping, stating, “What we must remember is that the media tends to present to its audience whatever is likely to capture the most attention, which, for the most part, comprises of scandal and other negative images.”

An excerpt of Aileen’s essay will be used to introduce Dr. Owusu-Ansah, a guest speaker and noted professor from James Madison University, who will share his knowledge on West African history and culture with freshmen and sophomores on March 31. Dr. Owusu-Ansah will reiterate Aileen’s idea that Africa is complex and multifaceted, full of triumphs as well as trials.

To encourage open-mindedness, Aileen states, “If we accept a single story without bothering to read between the lines, we run the risk of only being capable of seeing how we are all different, rather than the same. And, perhaps, most importantly, we run the risk of never gaining a significant understanding of the world in which we live.”