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Thirteen Ohio State Students Participate in National Model African Union Conference

Model African Union students in Washington D.C.After months spent familiarizing themselves with African politics and the African Union, 13 Ohio State students represented the nations of Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of the Congo at the National Model African Union Conference in Washington, D.C., February 18-21. The 14th annual conference, hosted by Howard University, brings together students from more than 30 universities around the country to draft and negotiate resolutions and simulate diplomatic activity of the African Union, as part of a general assembly of more than 50 African countries.

The students completed months of research and preparation prior to the conference, studying the history and the social, political and economic issues of Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Members crafted draft resolutions to present at the national level, and many of these drafts were adopted into the conference’s final resolutions, ratified by the body and sent to the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The group is advised by Laura Joseph, assistant director, of the Center for African Studies.

Model African Union 2016Kossi Houngbedji, a senior majoring in French and the Model African Union president, felt confident in the group’s preparation for the conference, and even more assured after the experience in his ability to understand the world as a global citizen.

“Going through this really helps you understand the world and understand what other countries are like - their diplomacy, their views - and that’s what we all desire to know,” said Houngbedji. “I highly suggest other OSU students do this because it will prepare them for future endeavors and understanding the world.”

Conference participant, Zia Mohammad, a senior studying electrical and computer engineering, was inspired by his interactions with figureheads at the conference from varying African countries. “Meeting with the representatives from the various nations we represented was one of the highlights from the trip,” Mohammad said. “Seeing the dedication that they had for their people and the views they held were inspiring. By seeing the nations come together as one African Union allowed me to understand how globalization is changing the world.”

The students were sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences, the Department of Political Science, the Undergraduate International Studies Program, the Center for African Studies and the Undergraduate Student Government. For additional information, contact Kossi Houngbedji, president, Model African Union.

Student Reflections

Members of Model African Union shared their thoughts on the following questions:

  • What was the preparation process like for the Model African Union conference?
  • How do you think participating in the conference helps to make you a better global citizen?
  • What was the most transformative part of your time in Washington, D.C.?

Zia Mohammad is a fourth year studying electrical and computer engineering.

"Being able to represent a nation is a privilege that should not be taken without having the proper knowledge of everything that nation stands for. The preparation process for the Model AU conference required a fair amount of personal research. From reading about various projects that can be implemented, to learning about other countries with similar interests, research before the conference gave me a holistic view of African culture and politics.

As the world becomes more interconnected it is important to broaden ones horizons. By being a participant in the Model African Union I became cognizant of issues that are being discussed in the developing world. By having knowledge of these issues I hope to be able to use my engineering skills to develop innovative solutions to tackle these challenges.

Meeting with the representatives from the various nations we represented was one of the highlights from the trip. Seeing the dedication that they had for their people and the views they held were inspiring. By seeing the nations come together as one African Union allowed me to understand how globalization is changing the world."

Matt Ellis is a fourth year studying international studies.

"Each participant had to prepare a draft resolution for their committee, from the point of view of the country they represented. I for instance wrote one on the political integration of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). To write this, I had to research ECOWAS countries and Sierra Leone (the country I represented) in particular. This process was interesting for me, having previously had essentially no exposure to these countries at all.

Being an American citizen, citizenship is a concept I've always associated with individual nations. So 'being a citizen' would be things like participating in government and contributing to society within a country. From this experience I have gained a greater appreciation for a citizenship that reaches across borders. Learning about other cultures has always been an interest of mine, but engaging in negotiations as a representative of another country gave me a new perspective on what patriotism and nationality can mean in a global context.

The parts of the trip which had the most impact on me were visiting the embassy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the embassy of Sierra Leone. At the DRC Embassy, for example, we met with a man who was fiercely proud of his nation, while openly discussing problems within it honestly. From both embassies I came away feeling appreciative of my own country and the many benefits I have had being born in America, while gaining greater knowledge and appreciation of countries and cultures from around the world. I have learned that patriotism can not only be held at the same time as appreciation for other cultures, it can in fact be redoubled through learning of other cultures and their values."

Robrick Trinity is a third year studying economics.

"The preparation process was a bit intense but the constant meeting with my colleagues of the Model African Union association on campus it was stress-free. There were editing of my resolutions, the research of about the countries we were to present in Washington, D.C. Also, we has to learn how to conduct ourselves in the conference setting by learn the proper order of proceedings at the conference in Washington, D.C. Furthermore with the help from Ms. Laura Joseph who was our advisor and our time keeper as well as our resource person I can say that the preparation process was excellent.

Participating in the conference allowed me to see the mind set and opened my eyes to the daily changes as well as the impact that my actions have on people. It has made me to realize that there are people out there that every action or decision I make have a consequence on their lives. The conference has made me to think carefully about any action or decision I made as to remember I do not only represent myself but others as well.

The most transformative part of my time in Washington, D.C was meeting a lot of people from all walks of life with a common goal of making the world a better place but the means of achieving it was different from the next."