Students taking a Pan-African Studies class recently took a six-day trip to Washington, D.C. to attend the Model African Union conference.
The six students represented the nation of Malawi at the conference and toured the embassy of the West African nation.
The four-year-old Model African Union offers a way for students to study African issues. The union discusses issues facing the African continent, whether social, political-security or economic. It was intended to show the patterns of support and disagreement between the United Nations and the African Union.
Jasmine Young, Pan-African Studies major and a delegate to the conference, said she feels like her experience has broadened since she attended the conference.
“It was an opportunity to take what I learned in class and apply that to the outside world, that being the conference.” Young said.
The class, PAS 466-Model Organization of African Unity, is an introduction to the Model African Union Conference, which has its headquarters in Ethiopia.
Eleazu Obinna, a Pan-African Studies Department professor who teaches the class, said the university pays for the trip and he picks who gets to go.
The students attending the conference said they learned about debating and how lobbying worked.
Students left CSUN on Feb. 28 for the conference. Students had a chance to sit down with representatives from different countries in Africa.
“It’s a sneak peek into government ? the ways in which politics works in this country and outside and abroad,” Young said.
The conference happens every year in March at Howard University.
More than 30 schools from the across nation participated in the conference.
The class is similar to a United Nations class available in the Political Science Department.
The year-long course is taken in two parts: PAS 466A, offered in the fall, is an overview of the United Nations, the organization of African unity, and the continent of Africa, and PAS 466B, which is a practicum in which some students travel to Howard University in Washington D.C. and participate in the Model AU conference.
The history of the Pan African movement is taught in PAS 466A. The first semester, students learned about Africa and the struggles of the African people, discussing ways they could help.
In the fall, students taking PAS 466A research the country that they will be representing as a model delegate at the conference. Students research the country’s people, the government, and the economic and cultural crisis, as well as social and human rights matters. Students write a resolution to be presented at the conference after the research is complete.
Six students were chosen as delegates to represent the Republic of Malawi. Students that are unable to attend the conference conduct more research, and also applying what they have learned from the fall semester.
“The exposure to the political system, as well as our time at Howard University ? I enjoyed Howard very much a school with that much history,” said Yemi Kuku, senior political science major.
“The African continent as well as Africans in America need help and our support and this is a good way to show it,” said Kimberly Marshall, senior PAS major.
Obinna said that by taking this course, students get in-depth knowledge about Africa, and they are prepared to become delegates if selected to go to Washington, D.C. Students gain an “understanding of issues and struggles of the African continent and how they are similar and different than here,” Kuku said.
The students returned to CSUN with many stories about their trip.
“I think one of the best things about going to the conference for me as a person of African descent was being able to see all the other people of African descent that populate D.C. It’s often known as chocolate city,” Young said.
Young also said the “the culture there is real, L.A. doesn’t have culture.”
The African Union is “an insight (of) people that look like us and need our help,” Marshall said.