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Students earn awards in National Model African Union Conference

Standing left to right: Dylan John,Christian Nwankwo, Isha Williams, Jasmyn Bush, Sydney Stephenson; seated: Amina Moran, Etinosa Oghogho, Dr.Cathy Skidmore-Hess, Dr.Saba Jallow, Shaneka Spikes, Warren Terry and Jasmine Small

The Georgia Southern Model African Union (MAU) competed and took home several awards in the 2017 National Model African Union Conference in Washington, D.C., at Howard University on Feb. 23-26.

Dylan John, head delegate, earned his sixth consecutive Best Delegation in Committee Award for the Executive Council and the Committee Leadership Award; Shaneka Spikes earned Best Delegation in Committee Award for the Democracy, Governance and Human Rights Committee; Christian Nwankwo earned Best Delegation in Committee Award for the Pan Africanism and Continental Unity Committee.

The University’s MAU, housed under the Center for Africana Studies, has competed in the National MAU for 27 years and has consistently earned best delegate outstanding leadership awards at the local and regional levels. This year the team brought two delegations to the competition, representing both Guinea and Senegal.

Associate Professor Saba Jallow, Ph.D., is the director of the Center for Africana Studies and the advisor for the team. For months, he worked with the delegates to train on writing diplomatic proposals, practicing negotiation strategies, researching and reaching a consensus using parliamentary skills.

“Experiential learning like this is a valuable tool for our students,” said Jallow. “It allows them to learn and understand how nations talk to one another and negotiate problems.”

Dylan John (‘16), first-year graduate student and Head of State for the Senegal delegation, knows the value in a program like the MAU. The Sri Lanka native hopes others will benefit from the MAU and Center for Africana Studies by expanding their cultural and global awareness.

“Knowledge and awareness of other countries and cultures is the only way to help diplomacy evolve,” said John. “I encourage my peers, especially those outside of the political science field, to broaden their horizons and engage in conversations outside of their own continent.”

Throughout the history of the Center, courses have included an array of interests like the geography of the Sahara, African American politics, African American history and African American theatre.

“I would love to see the program grow in faculty, students and courses offered,” said Jallow. “There is a market here for this kind of education. Our geographic location is rich in history and the culture of Africa, and we need active participants to keep these stories, this culture alive in our area.”

Alumni of the Center have gone on to pursue doctorate degrees, work in politics and make meaningful global connections. Francys Johnson is a prominent local attorney and state president of the Georgia NAACP, Nebiyu Feleke (‘95) is a U.S. District Attorney in D.C., and Hans Holseth, a former MAU student delegate, joined the Norwegian Foreign Ministry Diplomatic Service and served in Angola as a diplomat. He currently works with NATO in Brussells.

“It’s amazing and impressive to see how well connected our University is on an international level, and many students don’t even realize it,” said John. “Dr. Jallow knows people in Parliament, powerful leaders and politicians in African countries. We can really offer students accessibility and connections that they may otherwise never see. This Center is a conduit of success beyond the classroom.”

Georgia Southern University will be the host for the Southeast Model African Union simulation in November. Her Excellency, Dr. Arikana Chihombori Quao, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the African Union to the United States, will be the keynote speaker. She represents all the 55 member states of the African Union.

To learn more about the Center for Africana Studies and the MAU, visit http://class.georgiasouthern.edu/africana/.

Georgia Southern University, a public Carnegie Doctoral/Research University founded in 1906, offers more than 125 degree programs serving 20,673 students. Through eight colleges, the University offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs built on more than a century of academic achievement. Georgia Southern is recognized for its student-centered and hands-on approach to education. Visit GeorgiaSouthern.edu.

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