UCA’s Griot Society held an informational meeting Wednesday, Oct. 7 in the student center room 213.

Griot Society is an organization that discusses African-American history before and after the slave trade and connects it to issues of the modern day. “We talk about most topics that K-12 classes don’t talk about,” President of UCA’s Griot Society, senior, Kateese Smith said.

This information session was the first meeting of the semester for Griot Society. UCA’s Griot Society President, Kateese Smith hosted this session to explain what Griot Society is about to students who are interested in becoming a member.

The event was socially distanced, chairs being six feet apart and participants were required to sanitize their hands.

The session started off with an icebreaker, in order for prospective members to get more acquainted. Participants submitted a random fact digitally through a website prior to the meeting and Smith called out the random fact for the others to guess whom it came from.

After the icebreaker, Smith began the presentation to give more information about Griot Society.

Smith started out by explaining what a “Griot” is.

According to Smith, a Griot is a storyteller, musician, and a keeper of records. She explained that Griots have been prevalent throughout time to preserve genealogies, historical narratives, and important dates of their people.

Smith then went on to explain the history of Griots. Griots first began to arise in the West African Mande Empire of Mali in the 13th century.

Originally, only males were Griots and it was a title passed down through a familial line. Now present day griots have modified practices and can be any female or male, regardless of ancestry.

After giving background information on the origins of Griots, Smith explained how Griot Society came to UCA. Griot Society has been at UCA since the 1990’s however they left and came back in 2016.

The Griot Society stays active on campus, volunteering at different events on and off campus. Smith said that Griot Society encourages its members to be better members of society and to be active on campus.

Smith then presented the schedule of lessons for the following meetings as well as the structure of the class. Smith said that there will be 6 classes and an induction ceremony. The meetings will be divided into two parts which is the lesson and then the discussion.

Junior, Kaylin Dean, says she has had an interest in Griot for a while.

“I really have been interested in Griot from hearing about it...now I have a better understanding of it,” Dean said.

Sophomore, Ashley Henson says she enjoyed the informational session. “I feel like I’m going to be able to learn a lot from this and everyone seems really nice,” Henson said.

To conclude the session, attendants of the meeting participated in a Kahoot game that reviewed all of the information discussed.

Smith says Griot Society hopes to expand this semester. “Our goals are really just to get out there and volunteer more, do more programs around campus and just to get noticed more,” Smith said.

Griot Society meets in student center room 213 at 6:00pm on Wednesdays.

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