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Community Spotlight

The community spotlight highlights the achievements of the MSU Africanist community. You can find past spotlights in our archive.

ASLA at the 2020 Model African Union


The African Students Leadership Association (ASLA) at Michigan State University is a student organization that includes both graduate and undergraduate students looking to participate in events that promote pan-Africanism and engage with issues related to Africa’s development. According to the organization’s president, Luyando Katenda, ASLA was founded by African students in the diaspora with the intent of uniting African students and instilling in them leadership and diplomatic skills. This year ASLA students participated in The International Model African Union event held at Howard University.

The Model AU is a simulation of the proceedings of the African Union. Students participate in pre-conference study and Embassy briefings in Washington, D.C. The conference aligns with the goals of ASLA in helping participating students gain understandings of the role, structure, and activities of the African Union as well as the economic, social, and political issues facing African countries.

This year, two ASLA team members received Outstanding Delegation Awards for excellent performance in the respective committees they served on – Committee on Economic Matters and the Executive Council. The awards recognize delegates who contribute most to the accomplishment of tasks assigned to the Committee or Council.

Miriam Kaburu, an undergraduate student from Kenya said that this year’s Model AU gave her an opportunity to learn about different African cultures and she was “able to contribute solutions to continent-wide challenges such as the movement of goods and services and border security.” When asked about how ASLA has changed her experience at MSU, Miriam said “ASLA is a space that has allowed me to learn more about my continent than any class or school will ever teach me,” adding that the real value of ASLA is having conversations with others who have experienced issues that most people only read about on paper.

Due to the postponement of all MSU events this spring, ASLA was not able to hold their Comeback Conference for the students who went to the Model AU to talk about their experiences. We are hopeful that this event will be rescheduled for Fall 2020 where we will be able to hear more about the ideas these scholars are engaging with and learning about.


ASLA participants at Model African Union, 2020

Photo Credit: Boitshoko Molefhi