Latin American Studies majors represented Western hemispherical countries in Washington, D.C. at the 2015 Washington Model Organization of American States.
There were 28 schools that attended, and each was given a different Latin American country to represent. Fifteen students from Plattsburgh State represented the delegation of Brazil.
Students from the United States, as well as South American countries such as Colombia and Venezuela, went to D.C. for a week to debate and resolve issues surrounding Latin American countries. PSUC was the only school from the SUNY system in attendance.
The model consists of five committees, each representing resolutions for different problem areas.
The general committee focuses on strategies for social, economic and political inclusion development in the Americas.
The first committee, known as the juridical and political affairs committee, focuses on guaranteeing access to justice by strengthening official public defenders.
Jose Diaz headed the second committee, which focuses on hemispheric security.
PSUC student John Hamilton chaired the third committee, which focuses on integral development.
PSUC senior Cristian Macario chaired the special committee, which focuses on environmental issues in the Americas.
Schools in attendance of the WMOAS make up these five committees and propose resolutions for the problems faced by their countries in their committees.
Unlike Model UN, resolutions proposed by the students are reviewed by Organization of the Americas before they are published online, and in the past some of the resolutions have been picked up by the organization.
The highest “award” a school or student can win at the WMOAS is the designation of a committee chair. Each school is allowed to run two people for chair positions.
This year, Hamilton and Macario ran for chair positions. They both won.
“It’s an honor to be chosen because it means the committee thinks you’re the most qualified and prepared to lead the committee,” Macario said.
To win the chair position, Macario had to campaign for the position for the first few days the students were in Washington.
“It’s very political,” he said. “I had to lobby for the position and get people to vote for me on election day.”
Participating in the WMOAS is made possible through a class in the Latin American Studies program.
“We have a very diverse delegation,” said PSUC student Grace Carlic. “We have members ` all different races, sexual orientations and economic backgrounds. We’ve become like a little family, so it’s really special.”
Adding to the diversity of the major, most Latin American studies students are double or triple majors.
Samuel Martinez, who took part in WMOAS for the first time this year, is a triple major in international business, economics, and Latin American studies. Macario is a double major in political science and Latin American studies.
“The class isn’t only taught by the professor, they are students who have more experience doing this who are able to teach as well which is really unique,” Martinez said.
The students are given ample time to research and learn about their designated country and are able to travel to Ottawa in Canada to talk to ambassadors of Latin American countries to gain insight into what their actual government would do if faced with the types of issues discussed in the model.
The Latin American studies program has only 23 students and the department is looking to expand.
The program’s ability to expand is made difficult by the fact that it doesn’t possess a full-time department chair.
Dr. Stewart Voss, part-time faculty who acts as department chair, is trying to “internationalize” the program and has been going into lower-level classes to talk about the opportunities the major offers in the hopes of gaining more students.
“This program is one of the hidden gems of Plattsburgh,” Macario said.
Carlic noted the importance in being able to gain socializing skills in the major.
“It’s not only about learning about Latin America, it’s about learning about people,” she said. “Those socializing skills will ultimately help us all in the job market.”
Email Tawnee Bradham at firstname.lastname@example.org