May 02, 2013
Connor J. Crowley '14
From March 26 to 30, a group of nine students and two faculty members from Hampden-Sydney College travelled to Washington D.C to participate in the Model Organization of American States (MOAS). The contingent was assigned to represent El Salvador. This five day event was attended by several hundred students from 30 different colleges from throughout the Western Hemisphere. The intended goals of the WMOAS are to give students the opportunity to learn about the structure and processes of the OAS, learn about current events and issues that are affecting the hemisphere, and gain first-hand experience practicing diplomacy.
The MOAS is divided into five committees: General, First, Second, Third, and Fourth. Each committee has one student as delegate and, if enough students participate, a second student as alternate delegate. Prior to our trip to Washington, we each had to prepare a proposed draft resolution on one of the topics provided for us on the WMOAS agenda. After each student finished their proposed draft resolution, we voted as a class on which resolution we would use for each of the five committees as only one resolution could be submitted per committee.
After weeks of thoroughly preparing our proposed draft resolutions and studying current events and foreign relations of the western hemisphere, it was finally time for our trip to Washington to participate in the WMOAS. Soon after arriving, our delegation had to immediately walk to the OAS building for the opening ceremony. At this ceremony we were fortunate enough to have to Jose Miguel Insulza, the OAS Secretary General, as the keynote speaker.
For the rest of the first day, and the next three days, we broke into committees. During these sessions we had a busy schedule with many items to go over and tasks to accomplish. We had to caucus, discuss, debate, and vote upon the proposed draft resolution from each of the 30 nations that were represented. This was a long process as many delegations wanted to speak for or against draft resolutions or wanted to submit amendments. At times the debate for a single proposed draft resolution would last well over an hour. As a member of the fourth committee, my fellow delegates in the committee and I were responsible for debating and voting upon all draft resolutions that were passed by other committees but needed funds from the OAS budget. As a committee, we had to decide what topics we would prioritize when deciding to use OAS funds and pass resolutions that were related to these topics.
However, the Model OAS experience was not just committee sessions. On the morning of March 27 we met with the actual El Salvadoran delegation to the OAS. We asked the delegation about the OAS and how the organization goes about business. The MOAS also hosted the evening of the 27 a gala which allowed us to interact with the other participating students on a more personal basis while enjoying good food and music.
The MOAS ended on March 30th with a closing ceremony. We left for Hampden-Sydney shortly after the ceremony and had to wish our new friends goodbye, as they too were heading back to their own colleges and universities.
Overall, the MOAS was a positive and fun experience. It was a first-hand experience about how an international organization works, and it was a great learning experience in foreign policy and diplomacy. The opportunity to participate in MOAS, practice my debating skills, and interact and befriend students from around the country and hemisphere is an experience I will cherish and I look forward to participating in next year's MOAS.
Left to Right: Joshua Shelton '14, McGowan Day '14, Connor Crowley '14, Sal Benitez '16, Brit McKenzie '13, George Gordon '14, Agustín Vásquez Gómez (Salvadoran Rep. to the OAS), Peter Chiglinsky '16, Wendy Jeannette Acevedo Castillo (Salvadoran Rep. to the OAS), Ben Marston '13, and Matt Eckess 15.