Published: Tuesday, 28 Feb 2017
Author: The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program
Department: Office of the Dean
From February 22 to February 26, eight of Michigan State University's MasterCard Foundation Scholars participated in the 15th annual International Model African Union Conference at Howard University in Washington, D.C, representing the distinguished countries of South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The conference is a simulation of the proceedings of the African Union (AU), during which students gain an understanding of the roles and structure of the AU, issues facing African countries, and constraints and policies that may affect AU members. This year, 49 student delegations from schools all over the United States, Canada, Europe, and Africa participated in the conference to practice diplomacy and applied problem solving. Delegates visited embassies representing their African country and interacted with ambassadors and other key staff. You can read more about the objectives, speakers, and agenda, of the 2017 conference here.
The MAU team from MSU included members of the African Students Leadership Association (ASLA) and eight MasterCard Foundation Scholars. The team won four prestigious awards that commended their leadership and outstanding performance during the conference. You can read about each participating Scholar and hear some of their thoughts on the experience below:
Arhin Acheampong: (Ghana) Criminal Justice, junior, president of ASLA, served as Vice Chair of the Executive Council at MAU. "As a proud African who has a keen interest in Africa and her development, the Model African Union gives me an invaluable platform to experience firsthand what policymaking entails and how I can understand the continent to best contribute towards her development. This is an opportunity MasterCard Foundation Scholars should take advantage of. We cannot give back to our communities if we are not aware of the imminent challenges. Transformative leadership starts now."
Susanna Maingi: (Kenya) Fisheries and Wildlife, first-year masters. "For me, the best part of the conference was hands down, debating development and other issues that are faced on the continent. Like-minded pan-Africanists from schools all over the US were [neck] deep in conversations on how to enhance the African continent through empowerment of the youth and women, human rights and inclusive economic growth. I brought back with me to MSU a new found identity as an African here in the States, a sense of belonging among others who have a profound passion for the continent."
Luyando Katenda: (Zambia) James Madison College, freshman, winner of the Outstanding Delegation Award at MAU. "This experience has strengthened my passion for governance and diplomacy and at the same time aided my social and public speaking skills which are vital for my field of study. Further, the discussions that we had in my committee made me realize all the more, the importance of everyone's role in solving Africa's problems."
Nikkita Ngalande: (Zambia) Actuarial Science, sophomore, Vice President of ASLA, served as Chair of the Pan Africanism & Continental Unity Committee at MAU.
Ebrima Njie: (The Gambia) Civil Engineering, sophomore
Amal Matovu: (Uganda) Economics and Environmental Science, junior
Rachel Nanteza: (Uganda) Environmental Studies and Sustainability, junior
William Njobvu: (Zambia) Economics, senior
ASLA will be holding a Come-Back Conference on March 24 in Room 115 of the International Center where they will share their experience with the entire MSU community. Borrowing from the theme of the 28th AU Summit held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the event is dubbed "Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investments in Youth"