What Daystar Can Learn From USIU Culture Week

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By Vincent Embukane Liboso

Photos Courtesy of Githinji Mwai

As an events blogger, writer and one who has a little expertise up my sleeves on events, I will be honest about one thing: Daystar Nairobi campus culture week was a flop!  I love seeing a great initiative trend and take hold; that is why when I was invited to USIU (United States International University) Culture Week; I couldn’t refuse even though it was at happening concurrently with Daystar Nairobi’s.

There was glitz and glamour in abundance at USIU culture week. At Daystar, we lacked that and we drank our sorrows to a stupor  on free Nescafe coffee. In fact, not even our students had an idea it was culture week.

Moreover, Daystar culture week lacked the hype and the excitement. Why you ask? It is because we are doing the same things done by past leadership over and over again, expecting different results. But it never works that way!

I will give you a clear perspective on how USIU turned their earlier low-hyped event into one of the best ever event in their history and in my history of events blogging.

Running from Tuesday to Thursday, with over 60 countries, international and continental, the cultural performances and the stars were plenty.

Gates opened as early as 9 AM each day. The tents were up; and the exhibitors and sponsors pitched tent all day. Each country had to display what it has to offer. And I mean the best since there were judges, made up of a panel of students and lecturers going round to assess the quality of exhibition of each represented culture. The after affair in each tent- music met fashion, great food and the best of the country’s culture.

Don’t even get me started on the dressing. This is it; at USIU, unlike us here in Daystar, the students care! They dressed to impress. They brought culture and fashion on the same pedestal. At Daystar, I found myself and a few others in our African regalia. Nobody cared to dress-up; let alone make it to the Freedom Corner for fashion show.

The USIU culture week went viral from the onset. Good PR! The “selfie campaign” – similar to The Oscars – of the event on social media created the much-needed hype; and Nokia Lumia phones were up for grabs for the best “selfies.”

But the climax of it all was the Thursday Night concert. Coca cola brought in free sodas for everyone, a cool tent, and  Dj Joe Mfalme on the decks. Here, each country had the privilege of showcasing their best cultural performance in terms of music, dance, fashion, and what-not. All these for the bragging rights and for a trophy that is contested annually…

Someone told me that USIU events are always great because they have funding. I will be honest because I had a chat with the event organizers and the funding they get from their administration is way too low to pull such an event.

I pressed on to find out how they did it. What does it take? Is there is a magical formula behind the success of USIU culture week and any event for that matter? Well, this is it: students who care and have passion for what they do, and a driving ethos about making the university urban-positive and a better place. But above all were the willing sponsors who believe in an idea and are willing to partner with student-organized events getting the overall benefit of smart and cool solutions for their businesses and a willing market among the students.

How can Daystar redeem herself? Well, we can start now. Mr. and Miss Daystar pageant is almost here and as long as you, the Daystar student, believes in it, then we will make it a success!

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  1. Nairobi campus has an interesting problem. The organization of space there makes it very clear that there is no intention for a social/community life on the campus. The formula is to direct students to deposit money at the Finance office, then the lecturers deposit notes (sometimes called knowledge) in students in the classroom, shake and stir with exams for two or four years, after which students leave with a certificate. There just has been no vision about what we want PEOPLE to do on campus, and without thinking of PEOPLE, we wont put in the necessary resources for people t oa great time. Maybe the new building will help things, but I’m skeptical. If students are not working, they should join Athi River campus. There’s space there, life and beauty.

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