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Out of Africa & Into the Capital: A Penn State Experience

When you think “Penn State,” you probably don’t think “T.I.A” (This Is Africa), but maybe you should. This week, eleven Penn State students will take part in the National Model African Union, a conference held each year at Howard University in Washington, D.C. The Model AU is a simulation of how the African Union works that offers greater insight into African affairs.

Each university represents an African country and visits that country’s embassy in D.C to meet with Embassy officials before the conference. Participating students serve on the various committees of the AU, including the Executive Council, Peace and Security, Economic Matters, Social Matters, and Union Government. Students are assigned with proposing resolutions for the rest of the Conference to vote on.

With the help of university funding, Penn State has been attending the conference since 1997. Funding contributors have included the College of the Liberal Arts, the Africana Research Center, Office of the Vice Provost for Educational Equity, the African and African-American Studies department, and UPAC.

Sarah Halstead, a junior African and African-American Studies major who attended last year’s conference, recalls that, “The conference allows for great networking,” and more importantly, “the opportunity to listen to ambassadors and other officials talk about the most recent and prominent problems facing Africa.” This year Penn State will be representing the Democratic Republic of Congo, generating possible resolutions for some of the country’s most pressing issues.

The National Model African Union is just one of many opportunities that African Studies students have to take their education outside of the classroom. Whether you’re an African Studies major or someone who thought Invictus was really about rugby, consider learning more about the various events hosted by Penn State’s African Studies department and the Africana Research Center.

For more information on activities for African and African-American Studies students, contact Kayla Larkin at [email protected]

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