Tianna Williams, a second-year engineering technology major, has always had an interest in fandom culture, but a Drexel University student’s schedule and budget has kept her from going to as many conventions as she would like, even those that take place right here in Philadelphia.
“I really just wanted to have something like that for the Drexel community and the surrounding community,” she said, “something that’s even more affordable than the ‘affordable ones’ that we have. … And that’s how it got started.”
What got started was the planning for Drexel Expo, which aims to bring together fandom, geek and art-culture lovers for a daylong event on May 12 in the Papadakis Integrated Science Building. A day chock full of workshops, panels, tournaments and showcases will be put on by student organizers from Drexel’s Black Action Committee, The Good Idea Fund and the Anime and Gaming Organization as well as Drexel Quidditch, Dragon Jedi and participating faculty.
Since Williams, who is marketing chair for the Black Action Committee, got the sign-off from her organization’s executive board to host the event, she has been hard at work contacting the other relevant student groups and faculty members she knew would help make it a success. The Good Idea Fund, which awards excess funds to individual students and student groups to put on worthy events throughout the school year, awarded its services to Williams and her organization due to the openness and uniqueness of the event.
“It’s a large event, so we were a little worried about the capacity and the timeframe, but we knew while partnering with us that they would really be able to put on an amazing event, especially with help with our funding and our event planning and everyone on our board.” said Alyssa Bennett, a pre-junior studying marketing and The Good Idea Fund’s vice chair. “It’s just so unique to anything that we had ever seen.”
Williams also reached out to the Anime and Gaming Organization knowing by name alone that the group would be perfect to help lead some workshops and gaming tournaments during Drexel Expo. And it didn’t take long for Nicholas Harman, a junior studying electrical engineering and the president of the Anime and Gaming Organization, to get everyone on board.
“Having wanted to do something like this, but never having the resources or the man power, I felt that what she was doing was a lot of work, but was definitely a good idea and definitely something that we could accomplish,” Harman said of Williams. “I liked where her vision was at.”
Although the convention may come off as “niche” to an outsider, for those who have never played Quidditch or participated in a video game tournament, Williams upholds that there will be something for everyone at Drexel Expo. Those who like comics, relevant TV shows or movies, or are just into art — which will be another big aspect of the event — Williams said, “This is for you.”
Another key ingredient of the event is its focus on the Drexel community, with a student film screening and student art on display, and all of the familiar faces coming together to make the event a success.
“That’s the big thing is that we really want this to be for our community, and also by our community,” Williams said. “We’ve been working on getting the panelists and workshop hosts to be all Drexel students and faculty. So, it’s your peers that are coming out here and doing this for you, so that’s really what I want people to show up for.”
Harman said they are also focused on making the event enjoyable for the surrounding community, who are welcome to attend. The gaming tournament his organization is setting up will be open to all levels and skillsets, featuring games that Harman said “anybody could get into and win.”
“We try to be as open and facilitating as possible to expose people to something they might not even normally get to try or do,” he said.
Bennett hopes that people attend for the same reason her organization decided to get behind the event — because it’s relevant far beyond one type of person or subset of the student body.
“I think one of the Good Idea Fund’s goals, especially this year, is really putting on events that are all-inclusive,” she said. “This event really speaks to that. There’s gaming, there’s art, there’s film, there’s everything. We’re reaching such a broad audience, which is hard to do with events.”
“We’re hoping as it gets bigger every year— because we want this to be annual — that Drexel will give it a bigger spotlight,” Williams added.
Find out more about Drexel Expo and register here. Follow @drexel_expo on Instagram for the latest updates.