Baylor’s Model Organization of American States team represents Mexico and Belize in a virtual conference

By Dr. Joan E. Supplee, The Ralph L. and Bessie Mae Lynn Professor of History (emeritus) and director of the Baylor Model Organization of American States Program


On March 29-April 2, 2021, the Baylor Model Organization of American States (MOAS) team returned to the Microsoft Teams platform to participate in a second virtual model organized by the Institute for Diplomatic Dialogue in cooperation with the Organization of American States. The Washington model usually gives students the unique opportunity to debate critical international issues in the same halls where the Western Hemisphere’s oldest regional intergovernmental organization discusses those same issues. They also get to visit with country missions they represent, tour the Capitol, and get briefings from the Senate Foreign Relations staff. None of that was possible again this year.

Instead, the Baylor MOAS team represented Mexico and Belize in a virtual model. The e-model challenged students to forge diplomatic consensus and a spirit of Inter-American cooperation virtually as they exchanged ideas and cultures with students from schools from the United States, Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Argentina and Germany. While the conference remains smaller than the in-person models –– with 21 universities participating –– there were new universities that joined, including Hochschule Koblenz, the University of Applied Sciences from Germany. Students adapted quickly to the virtual world in a series of asynchronous and synchronous meetings.

In some ways, the e-model preparations remained the same as the in-person model. Baylor students wrote detailed and well-researched position papers for Belize and Mexico on the agenda topics and prepared their resolutions to present at the conference. The team submitted 10 resolutions in the first round for review by faculty committees, and all 10 passed review. Faculty reviewers remarked on the well-conceived and clear resolutions sent by the team. Students also submitted three additional resolutions for the second round and all three passed faculty review.

Each of the five committees (General, Hemispheric Security, Integral Development, Political and Juridical, and Special) had a site used for synchronous meetings, and each resolution had a channel used for asynchronous communications. Students could ask questions, make comments or post their support for the resolutions in the channel. All 10 of our first resolutions received the necessary cosignatories within the first full day making them ready for debate, which was important as both countries ranked early in the order of precedence.

The conference opened with an address from the Honorable Luis Almagro, the current Secretary General of the Organization of American States. Mr. Almagro reminded students that the OAS defines its mission as the preservation of peace, democracy, security, development and human rights through cooperative actions of the states in the Hemisphere. He reaffirmed the organization’s commitment to global citizenship, and discussed the challenges of the pandemic and democratic disruptions in the Hemisphere. He concluded with a plea for students to consider the victims of those challenges when proposing solutions.

After Almagro’s address, the synchronous sessions for each of the five committees began. All five committees met virtually every day for five hours of live and lively debate. Students also had to monitor the asynchronous channels continuously to answer questions, gather allies, decide in advance which resolutions to support and which to amend, and, finally, to develop strategies to manage all of that in the synchronous sessions.

Baylor students wrote resolutions on border security measures, accountability and transparency measures, gender equality, fighting corruption, food security, protecting freedom of the press, prevention of violent extremism, promotion of small businesses and clean energy, and reopening tourism and reforming education in a post-COVID hemisphere. Three resolutions passed by consensus, eight passed with large majorities and two failed. Baylor was the only university to surpass 10 resolutions approved, and was the only university to submit 13 total resolutions.

This year’s Mexico team was led by:

  • Head delegate Naomi Polete (senior, political science, Leander) in the General Committee
  • Gabriela Fernández Castillo (senior, international studies and psychology, México City, México) in the Juridical and Political Affairs Committee
  • Co-head delegate Logan Butler (sophomore, University Scholar, Evansville, Indiana) and Gilbert Adams (senior, political science and philosophy, Beaumont) in the Hemispheric Security Committee
  • Mari Benavides (freshman, history, San Benito) in the Integral Development Committee, and
  • Max Elizondo (senior, political science, history, Corpus Christi) and Miranda Martínez (freshman, health science studies, Laredo) in the Public Health in the Americas Committee

This year’s Belize team was led by:

  • Head delegate Camryn Lutes (junior, political science and philosophy, The Woodlands) in the General Committee
  • Michael Jordan (freshman, University Scholar, Harker Heights) in the Juridical and Political Committee
  • Co-head Delegate Colin Keele (junior, political science and history, Woodway) and Mikaela Sweet (junior, history, Montgomery) in the Hemispheric Security Committee
  • John Dagley (junior, political science, Houston) in the Integral Development Committee, and
  • Brittney LaVergne (senior, history, Spring) in the Public Health in the Americas Committee

While Baylor’s Model OAS team would have enjoyed and benefited in different ways from the trip to Washington D.C., the students were excited to take part in the E-model and discuss issues currently facing the Western Hemisphere. Between working hard online throughout the week and meetings every night for team strategizing, the Baylor MOAS team is proud of the work accomplished and relationships built. The team looks forward to sharing its experiences with fellow students, faculty and administrators. It wishes to thank the Baylor Administration, and especially Vice Provost for Global Engagement Jeffrey Hamilton, Assistant to the Vice Provost Lynae Jordan, Associate Deans of Arts & Sciences Kim Kellison and Carrolle Kamperman, Management Associate Delores Melendez, and Administrative Assistant Melanie Pirelo for their help and support of the team.

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