January ’17| VOL. 1, #3
Global Engagement at Home
Felicia A. Anderson | USA
In September 2016, Global Creativity Magazine sat down with the Sigma Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. during their first ever Model UN Summit. Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. is a service organization, the first of its kind established by African American women, which provides service to its community through the personal and professional development of its members. In January 2015, the sorority began a new international program initiative to strengthen its Global Impact efforts. A result of this is the sorority’s official partnership with the United Nations Association’s Global Classrooms Project (UNA-USA).
The Model UN Summit took place at Hughes STEM High School in Cincinnati, Ohio. Its participants were members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority’s co-ed youth ASCEND program. High school students from throughout the city came together to act as UN member nations to discover, debate and resolve global issues. Through the perspectives of their pre-assigned nations, participants addressed “access to clean water and sanitation,” and “environmentally displaced persons and social vulnerability.” Prior to the event, students were given information about what it means to be a delegate and other keys terms for the summit. They were instructed to aim to present each topic in a county-centric way. Australia, Russia, Ghana, Germany, the USA, and China were represented.
The program began with a message of the importance of local and global engagement and awareness through education and leadership by keynote speaker Mark Hayes. The summit topics were selected based on their timely relevance in the world, the threat of dwindling resources and social and civic conflict. Following the keynote, impressively dynamic commentary filled the room as each delegate took the floor.
Students came prepared with printed materials and used their phones to further rebut the arguments of other delegates. They strengthened their understanding of how inter-connected each country is and very realistically adapted the perspectives of each country. China, Russia and the USA were leaders in the debate. One of the biggest stumbling blocks to arise in the summit was China’s potential to grow in power over an indebted USA. China’s delegates expressed reluctance during debates of refugee assistance and allocation of land and financial resource due to threats of their own overpopulation. Russian delegates suggested that providing space for refugees in-country would leave them more vulnerable and unprotected than in their home countries.
Though unable to host, Australian delegates defended their existing contributions through reiterating that their “office of multicultural affairs helps fund ethnic-specific welfare agencies and migrant resources” to those currently living in Australia. “If you can’t take in refugees, then at least fund countries that can,” said Australia. They were also a leader in defending many countries’ opinion that if one cannot provide land resource, they can at least provide funding or training for the establishment of an infrastructure in a country that could. This suggestion was made during resolutions for both clean water access and displaced persons’ assistance sessions. The countries looked to Germany who in turn suggested that they had no residual resource to support.
Many countries expressed distrust towards the USA and its history of providing aid. There was also criticism of the current human rights discrepancies in the USA which negatively affected the perceived credibility of suggestions made by its delegates. Nations also doubted the ability of Ghana to assist in refugee relief and clean water aid based on an assumed lack of stable infrastructure and the likelihood of poor implementation of support. Germany further expressed that many African nations were suffering as a result of international interests solely withdrawing resources without depositing into the continent throughout history.
The day was an excellent display of global engagement and education made possible by none other than the participants of the ASCEND program. Facilitators of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.’s Global Classrooms program say that since its implementation, they have seen the aspirations of their youth grow with global consciousness. The delegates’ closing consensus was that “change needs to happen and it’s going to take time.”
Global Creativity Magazine’s presence was made possible by Dr. Whitney Gaskins, President of the Sigma Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. To learn more about the aforementioned programming and contacts, Dr. Gaskins can be reached via email at email@example.com
Felicia Anderson is an International Immersion Enthusiast, Educator, Visual Artist, Writer and Outreach Coordinator residing in Cincinnati, Ohio. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org