Makings Moves: The Washington Model OAS Conference

By: 
Mishell Alexandra Manrique
Class of: 
2019

One of the many great things about St. Lawrence University is how eager people are to offer you opportunities to explore something new, whether it is trying a new class, studying abroad, or, in my case, being part of a club that allows you to make moves.

Now in the words of the great DJ Khaled, whose Snapchat I watch as my comic relief for the day, he is always talking about making moves. What he means is to put yourself out there, explore the unexpected and make new opportunities happen. The Model Organization of American States (MOAS) club is completely student run. We prep for almost two semesters for a weeklong conference that takes place in Washington, D.C. It is in this conference in which we represent a country of the Americas, and this year we represented Canada. It seems fitting; we live less than 30 minutes away from it and our school has its own Canadian Studies department.

Once at this conference, we met up with 34 other universities from across the Americas, 17 of which were from South America. The students in each delegation were divided into different partner groups ahead of time, months before the conference. These divisions came because each group would work in different committees, debating different issues and topics at hand. As vice president of the club, my partner Steven Valverde '19, the president of the club, and I ended up in the General Committee. It is here where we presented our written resolution regarding Climate Change and how best to battle against it.

Our days began at 8 a.m. and finished around 6 p.m. We met with our committee and spent the entirety of the day debating different resolutions. It was amazing to see how well so many other schools were prepared, and knew so much background information about laws and treaties regarding their perspective countries. We soon found out that many of the students in the program took MOAS as a class and had applied to be able to come to the trip. A school that came from Argentina had an application pool of over 100 students that fought for the spot, and only 12 got it. These students were beyond bright and it showed during their debate, fortunately we, too, had prepared ourselves for a really long time and were able to also show off. Imagine, being able to meet up with some of the smartest students from across the Americas?! Creating connections that I am sure will last a lifetime.

Although our days were filled with debating and passing (or, in some cases, not passing) resolutions, we managed to have fun outside the conference. During the afternoons we went over to the museums, explored the monuments at night and ate in restaurants whose names we could not pronounce. The amazing thing about all of this is that we did not do it by ourselves, but rather ended up going to see all of these new places with our international friends we had made in the delegations.

Besides meeting with so many international students, we were also given the opportunity to go to the Canadian Embassy and the State Department where we were briefed on issues we should tackle. In addition, the amount of networking that went on during those days was enough to carry me through the year. Most of us, myself included, got information about internships we could pursue thanks to doing this conference.

After the eight days in Washington, it is safe to say we made tons of moves, and those moves culminated in the creation of friendships and memories that will carry with all of us way past graduation.