Fulani Institute of Academics and Arts Creates Cultural Enrichment for Local Secondary School Students
The institute brings in students from various schools and other community partnerships from all over Portage County.
The Fulani Institute is the brainchild of Asantewa Sunni-Ali, Ph.D., assistant professor of Pan-African Studies and director of the Center of Pan-African Culture, who founded the program in the spring of 2016. Dr. Sunni-Ali developed her passion during her diverse academic career, combining her background in African Studies with her doctoral degree in theatre for youth.
When Dr. Sunni-Ali received a faculty position at Kent State, her two passions crossed and she developed the Fulani Institute.
“I began my teaching career in Atlanta with elementary and middle schools, and I was mostly teaching students of African descent,” Dr. Sunni-Ali says. “I was able to use theater as a vehicle for self-reflection and learning in their communities.”
The Fulani Institute offers students a two-hour, twice-a-month Saturday session and the chance to be introduced to activities that relate to a particular session topic. The program is designed around five goals:
- To assist youth in mastering skills necessary to successfully matriculate through school.
- To assist youth in developing a strong self-esteem, positive attitudes and respect for others.
- To assist youth in setting academic, personal, and/or career goals and in devising plans to achieve them.
- To provide opportunities for youth to explore and hone their talents and abilities.
- To expand youths’ knowledge of history and contemporary culture of the African Diaspora.
To help facilitate the sessions, faculty at Kent State are involved every step of the way.
“This has been a major collaborative effort through the entire process,” Dr. Sunni-Ali says. “The faculty and staff are so supportive, enthusiastic and encouraging. They are so hands-on with anything I need, we really operate as a community, a family.”
Dr. Sunni-Ali says that the Fulani Institute is a youth-based program in which students can participate, but after a year of growth, she feels that faculty and staff have helped
make the program so successful.
For more information about the Fulani Institute or to enroll a student or volunteer, visit www.kent.edu/pas/event/fulani-institute-academics-and-arts.
For more information about the Department of Pan-African Studies at Kent State, visit www.kent.edu/pas.