Baylor’s Model Organization of American States team competes in Washington after a two-year hiatus

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

Baylor University’s Model Organization of the American States (MOAS) team has returned to Texas this spring after continuing its tradition of excellence in competition at another academic model.

Baylor MOAS has attended two conferences during this past academic year: The Eugene Scassa Mock OAS (ESMOAS) in November 2021, and the Washington MOAS (WMOAS) on April 11-15, 2022. Both conferences returned to in-person competition this season after a two-year hiatus.

At the 2022 Washington MOAS, Baylor’s team represented the Dominican Republic. The Washington model gives students the unique opportunity to debate critical international issues that the oldest regional political organization handles.  The team forged diplomatic consensus and a spirit of Inter-American cooperation as they exchanged ideas and cultures with students from universities from Canada to Argentina, representing 26 countries.

The Baylor team at the Washington MOAS

In addition to their diplomatic duties, Baylor students had the opportunity to hear a virtual address by the Secretary General of the Organization of American States, Luis Almagro, and share a briefing with the United States Mission to the OAS with students participating virtually from Venezuela.

Ambassador Jousé Fiallo Billini Portorreal, the Permanent Representative of the Dominican Republic to the OAS, also briefed the students on country policies at the Dominican Republic Mission to the OAS. He answered questions from the students on topics ranging from immigration and health care policies, tourism, and green development to regional security. He also discussed his previous work with the UN Security Council. Finally, he gave the students a tour of the Mission and shared his photographs of the Dominican Republic decorating the walls.

Although the OAS building in Washington was closed to visitors, Ambassador Portorreal arranged for and personally conducted a tour of the building, introduced our students to the Secretary General, and took them to the OAS Art Museum of the Americas. The Baylor team was the only team able to visit the building this year, thanks to the Ambassador. He also recommended a Dominican restaurant for our team’s dinner. At the end of the conference, Baylor students also found time to visit monuments, museums and the National Zoo, as well as take in the beauty of Washington DC’s famous cherry blossoms.

The Washington model is the culmination of months of in-class preparation and research into the Organization of the American States and the Dominican Republic. Each semester participating students prepare resolutions and a position paper on various topics related to the international goals and positions of the country they represent.

The Baylor MOAS Team

Two Baylor students — Head Delegate Mikaela Sweet (Corpus Christi, Senior, History) and Logan Butler (Evansville, IN, Junior, University Scholar) — led our team this year. As members of the General Committee, Sweet and Butler joined Head Delegates from other universities in discussing the Paris Agreements, strengthening Electoral Processes, and protecting refugees. They also worked to solve a hypothetical invasion of Guyana by Venezuela.

Representing Baylor in the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs were Brittany LaVergne (Spring, Senior, History) and Celeste Rincon (Tomball, Senior, Political Science), who joined delegates debating political rights for indigenous peoples, securing freedom of the press and legal protections for transitioning and transgender individuals.

Michael Jordan (Harker Heights, Sophomore, University Scholar) and Colin Keele (Waco, Senior, Political Science) sat on the Committee for Hemispheric Security. This committee worked on energy and food security and global health threats to the Hemisphere.

The Committee on Integral Development handled issues related to education and income inequality, strategies to eradicate childhood diseases, and programs to protect water resources. Baylor students Mari Benavides (Los Indios, Sophomore, History) and Molly Dagley (Houston, Freshman, Political Science) sat on this committee.

New to the conference this year was the Special Committee on Post-Covid Reconstruction. In this committee, Vanessa Cham (Rockwall, Sophomore, Neuroscience) and Sam Joyce (McKinney, Freshman, International Studies) discussed eliminating corruption in the distribution of vaccines, creation of a Pan-American Vaccination Passport, and strategic plans for future pandemics.

Helping the administrative side of these committees were two rapporteurs who attended weekly virtual training sessions to prepare for the job. Julia Mendes (Hudson, NH, Freshman, Medical Humanities) and Kelly Wheeler (Dallas, Sophomore, Accounting) assisted the chairs of Integral Development and Special Committee, respectively, to facilitate debate, earning the gratitude of both chairs and delegates in the process.

The Baylor team had all its resolutions (five in total) approved for debate by the Faculty Review Committees. Then, the resolutions were debated vigorously and passed in committee. Delegates also participated in lively debate over five joint resolutions — one for each committee — and made important connections with their counterparts from Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, Peru, Colombia and Argentina, as well as with students engaged in international relations at other U.S. universities.

Our team looks forward to sharing their experiences with fellow students, faculty and administrators. We also wish to thank the Baylor College of Arts & Sciences, the Baylor Center for Global Engagement, Lynae Jordan, and Jorge Vielledent for their help, patience, and support of the team this semester.

Looking ahead

Our MOAS team is excited to announce that Baylor University will host the Eugene Scassa Mock OAS Conference (ESMOAS) Nov. 3-5, 2022, on the Baylor campus in Waco. This Conference will include the Model Summit of the Americas, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) Moot Court Competition, and the ESMOAS Academic Conference on Latin America.

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