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Students Discuss Africa in D.C.

The first week of March held much excitement for a small group of Berea College students who had the opportunity to attend the Model African Union in Washington, D.C. Seven men and six women went with Dr. Michelle Tooley, Eli Lilly professor of religion, who also took students last year. For many students, this was their first time participating in the MAU, and going to D.C. was an experience of a lifetime.

Rabecca Hichilo and Kwadwo Juantuah discuss Burkina Faso in a small group conference at the MAU

After having prepared the entire fall semester for the MAU by studying the countries Berea College was given - Burkina Faso and Niger - the two groups were ready to present their proposals that stated how certain concerns could be addressed in their respective countries. At the conference, the students split into various groups to discuss social issues, technology and many more topics with the hundreds of other students in attendance.

For the next three days, the students spent hours considering the hundreds of proposals from all the represented African nations and chose the proposals that they thought were well-written, could help more than just one African country or were truly needed for a specific country. Eventually, the proposals were narrowed further during a plenary session.

Fred Rweru, a Berea College senior, said, “Many students told me they liked our two teams, because we were always involved in the debates.”

During short lunch breaks and after the meetings were over each day, students had a chance to roam around the D.C. business district and take in the history of our nation.

For a few of the students, the MAU Conference was a great learning experience. “The conference has just increased my passion towards social matters in Africa and the work of a diplomat in general,” said Sarah Deredza.

Mikita Weaver is another student whose mindset changed due to the trip. She not only said she grew in her public speaking abilities but also added, “The experience sparked in me an interest to continue to remain up to date on current events in Africa and around the world as well as continue to get to know the African students on campus and engage in dialogue about issues that the countries in Africa are facing.”

Bangha Song truly puts the idea of the MAU Conference in the forefront through by saying, “It was the richest experience, diplomatically, that I have ever had. Imagine yourself placed in a situation to decide what you think can be a perfect solution to a problem that you have always accused others [African leaders] for not solving.”

For more information on the Model African Union, contact Dr. Michelle Tooley at (859) 985-3537 or michelle_tooley@berea.edu.

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