Ten Cal Poly Pomona students will travel to Washington, D.C. to participate in the Model Organization of American States General Assembly from March 25 to 29.
The event is designed to educate students about diplomacy and the OAS, a hemispheric institution that was established in 1948 to prevent conflict and promote democracy, peace and security in the Americas. The OAS includes 35 member nations from North and South America.
Each year, universities from member nations gather for the national simulation at the OAS Headquarters in Washington, D.C. The universities play the part of different member nations, introducing resolutions addressing different political, economic and social issues in the Western Hemisphere — much like the more well-known Model UN does with global issues.
“Whether they get passed depends on how well the resolutions are put together, proposed and defended, and then on the behind-the-scenes cajoling and, deal-making,” says history Professor Pablo Arreola, the Cal Poly Pomona team’s adviser. “It’s not as gentle and easy as we tend to think.”
This is Arreola’s first year coaching the team. Economics Professor Nestor Ruiz, who started the Model OAS team on campus 10 years ago, previously served as advisor.
The event gives students a taste of diplomacy and insight into what diplomats do, Arreola says. It’s an excellent experience for those considering careers in politics, the Foreign Service or international business, he adds.
This year, Cal Poly Pomona’s team will play the Republic of Chile. The 10 students are also taking a specialized history class with Arreola this quarter in preparation for the Model OAS event, researching which positions Chile would take on issues before the general assembly. That has proven a little difficult, because power in Chile has shifted from the conservatives to the socialists, Arreola says.
During class, the students practiced presenting, debating and voting on different resolutions, using the formal language of parliamentarians.
Eric Espinoza, an economics student who is in his second year on the team, says he has enjoyed the experience of getting to research issues and work one-on-one with instructors.
“All the issues we’ve encountered are multifaceted; none of the solutions are ideal, but you can take a small step forward. It’s made me less skeptical about what people are doing on Capitol Hill, because you have to go through a lot,” says Espinoza, who wants to work in public policy or applied economics. “It’s exciting because you learn how ambassadors are supposed to act.”
Amy Vuong, an economics student in her first year on the team, says she joined because of the opportunities the team offered.
“It’s an opportunity to meet students from different countries and get their views on politics in the world and the United States,” she says, “and to be able to get experience in lobbying and trying to convince people.”