In February, eight CSUN students represented Namibia in an African Model Conference held in Washington D.C. One of the they CSUN for was implementing the Kiswahili language in the Pan African curriculum.
The students, all enrolled in Model Organization of African Unity, a course taught by Pan African Studies Professor Sheba Lo, spent one week at the nation’s capital for the conference. It was held at Howard University, a historically Black college or university, which has hosted the event 11 times.
Lo said the conference could be quite intimidating since her students only had a month of preparation and little experience, while the majority of other schools had 3 to 4 years of experience and plenty of time to prepare.
“When I saw my students with so little preparation I was holding back tears because I was so proud of them,” she said.
A total of 35 universities and colleges from all around the world in places such as Canada, Georgia and Pennsylvania represented other African countries. Some schools represented more than one African countries.
The conference provided the students the opportunity to study the role, structure and activities of the African Union and the economic, social and political-security issues facing African countries.
Krysten Freeman, 22, a senior African American Studies major, said it was her first time going to D.C and she never thought she would have the opportunity to participate in the African Model Conference.
“Before, I thought it was going to be hard trying to do this because the expectations were so high and I had no prior knowledge before class,” she said.
The event was also life-changing for other students, including Darnell Weatherspoon, 23, a senior African American Studies major.
He said that prior to participating in the conference, he never intended on going to graduate school, but now he plans to go.
“I met my potential mentor, a man in the master’s program at Georgia Southern University, and up until now I never considered graduate school,” he said. “I’m glad I met him because he is willing to help me.”
The trip also allowed the students to visit the White house, the Washington Monument, World War II Monument, the Martin Luther King Jr. Monument and the Lincoln Memorial.
“The Lincoln Memorial was the highlight of the trip because they have steps where you can stand where Dr. King did for his “I Have A Dream’ speech,” Weatherspoon said. “You can imagine this is what Dr. King was looking at.
The trip was completely sponsored by a $10,000 budget from Instructional Related Activities (IRA) that is included in students’ tuition.
Lo said the students did not win any awards and did not expect to with only a month of preparation, but with more time to prepare they would have been able to.
Lo recommends that students participate because, among other things, they develop an understanding of how political systems work and they will see themselves on a global scale.
She said there are a large number of African American students who participate but all students are welcomed and will benefit from the conference.
Along with Lo, Pan African Studies Professor David Horne also accompanied the participants to Washington D.C.
For further information, students can contact Lo at email@example.com.