Colgate’s Model African Union Team Heads to Washington, D.C. for Annual Conference


The Colgate Model African Union grabs a bite after the keynote address.

On Wednesday, February 17, Colgate’s Model African Union team departed for Washington, D.C. to take part in the 2016 National Model African Union sponsored by Howard University. This program was orchestrated by the Africana and Latin American Studies Program and led by Professor of Anthropology and Africana and Latin American Studies (ALST) Mary Moran and Program Assistant Anneliese Gretsch. This event emulates procedures taken by the African Union, the governing body of all African nations. Other leading schools including University of Pittsburgh, College of Charleston and Hobart and William Smith Colleges attended this competition.

This year, Colgate represented three African nations at the model: Somalia, Liberia and Rwanda. The model itself was preceded by extensive on-campus preparation for the trip in ALST 290: Model African Union, taught by Professor Moran. Students from different class years, concentrations and backgrounds in ALST 290 created draft resolutions, which they would present in D.C. and develop in collaboration with fellow delegates who wrote resolutions on the same topic. Participants were also prompted to write a resolution on a specific issue in their committee. Committees included Regional Economic Communities, Peace and Security, Democracy, Governance & Human Rights and Economic Matters, among others. Participants’ resolutions aimed to fix specific issues on the African continent, such as the crisis in the Central African Republic, recent attacks by radical Islamic terrorist groups and peace promotion in Somalia.

Students from Colgate attended three days of delegations at the Washington Plaza Hotel near Farragut Circle. Model African Union (MAU) participants were required to dress in business formal attire and act the part of a delegate from his or her assigned nation at all times during the conference.

Students attended an alumni event at the University Club titled “Protecting the Forcibly Displaced” on Friday, February 19. This event was organized by Moran and featured lawyer Roy Potts ’85 and Joseph Sebarenzi, a Rwandan refugee and former member of the Rwandan parliament. In 2000, he was forced to flee because of political persecution. He spoke to the audience of Colgate students, faculty and alumni about how to persist during times of hardship, a theme of the weekend that was received well by all attendees.

Senior Charity Whyte, who has attended the Model African Union in years past, noted the superiority of this year’s conference compared to those she had attended in the past.

“The conference was great, but the best part about the trip was seeing how much Colgate students shine and lead with such passion and grace. One example of this is that senior Madison Paulk won the Outstanding Chair award. That is the highest honor in Model African Union. So many other students from our school won awards, and everyone from our delegation positively impacted their committees. This weekend was filled with so much intellectual growth, Colgate connections and fun. I couldn’t have wished for a better MAU experience,” Whyte said.

For many students, attending this event for the first time provided an opportunity to develop their public speaking, researching, writing and collaboration skills. Over the course of the weekend, attendees fostered friendships with students from other schools through their discussions surrounding issues of peace, security and prevention of terrorism.

Junior Deogratius Magege, a first-time participant, enjoyed his experience and the knowledge he gained from it.

“I have never taken any course on Africa here, and taking MAU definitely challenged me to not just view Africa as my home, but a place that has a lot of potential for change and that I can participate to bring that about with like-minded individuals in whatever capacity,” Magege said.