by Sarah Gianni ’18
It is a course dedicated to developing public speaking, critical thinking, and enhancing writing skills. And no, it is not Development of Western Civilization.
Model Organization of American States (MOAS) is a course offered by the political science department at Providence College. Each year a group of 10 students is selected to participate in the course, preparing resolutions that will be debated each April at a summit in Washington, D.C.
This experience is designed to reflect debates that would occur in the real OAS, an organization of 35 independent states of the Americas. The OAS was established for member states to achieve peace and justice, promote solidarity, strengthen collaboration, and defend their sovereignty, territorial integrity, and independence.
The MOAS summit brings together students from all over the world to engage in debate and collaboration regarding proposed resolutions that each delegation presents.
“The point of our class is to prepare students to participate in MOAS,” said faculty advisor Thea Riofrancos. “Through different sub-goals and class projects, each student learns different skills to prepare them for experience they may have never had before.” Projects assigned vary from research on the various countries within the OAS to peer critiques of speeches.
This year, PC represented the country of Ecuador, traveling to D.C. on Sunday, April 9 to begin the five-day long conference. “Generally we were in session from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., except for Tuesday morning, which we spent at the Ecuadorian Embassy,” said Kate Mechem ’17.
While the majority of the summit was spent discussing proposed draft resolutions, participants enjoyed a formal dance at the OAS headquarters, as well as time to explore D.C. in the evenings.
Overall, collaborating with students from around the world proved to be a highlight of the summit.
“I was able to meet people from Canada, the U.S., Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Argentina,” said Pedro Aleman ’17.
Haley Rayment ’18 agreed, saying that she thoroughly enjoyed meeting delegations from different countries. “Hearing participants discuss their home countries was an eye opening experience,” she said. “It’s one thing to read about current events, for example in Venezuela, in the news, but a completely other experience to hear about these events from the perspective of students living in the country.”
Riofrancos said that she was impressed by her group of students. “This year we had some really great expertise in the room, regarding international relations or students who were interested in foreign service,” she stated.
While there is no background knowledge of debate required to participate, slots are designated for students who are either majoring or minoring in political science. “While you don’t have to be a political science major, I believe it is important to have a bit of poli-sci background, at least a minor, since the class does draw from some of that knowledge,” said Riofrancos.
Reflecting on the overall experience, Aleman said, “It is great learning and appreciating other cultures while doing what we love to do, which is being a diplomat.”