Model African Union (MAU) is an organization on Mercer’s campus that participates in the national conference with other Model African Unions across the country. Next year, however, Mercer’s team is going overseas to participate in the international conference in Kenya instead.
Senior Catherine Potin said the club helps members learn research skills and connect with passionate faculty.
“They’re all people who care about Africa and realize that there are a lot of issues and potential,” she said. “Model African Union is for (getting) young people interested in Africa. Once people do learn (about the club), they kind of all become interested in Africa.”
The organization spends weeks each year preparing for the national conference, where they meet up with other teams from across the world.
Each conference begins with keynote speakers and lectures from ambassadors and chairpeople from the African Union (AU), Potin said.
For the competition, each school brings at least six students on their team, and every team represents a single country. Each student represents a head of a committee within the county.
Committees in the past have included peace and security, socio-economic matters, democracy, Pan-Africanism, executive council and other roles.
Sophomore Zhinea Thomas, a pre-nursing student, represented the chairman of peace and security in Gambia. Thomas, one of the newer members of the club, said she joined MAU last semester and has been very much involved in the past conference.
“I dealt with peace troops, moving refugees during crises and sending help to these sources,” she said.
As a new member, Thomas said she did have her fair share of challenges.
“I had to lean on other people and start connections with different countries and embracing what the AU is and having to help each other,” she said.
She learned about the AU and the battles many countries have to face to come to an agreement and act as one.
“You’re acting as your country and learning that in that moment, you’re representing a country with limited resources, learning about another country, another continent,” Thomas said. “Whether you’re black or not, you’re or learning something (you’ve) never learned about Gambia or what the AU is in high school.”
Potin said she represented the social affairs committee.
“For instance, in social matters, my topics were (women’s) empowerment and education for the youth, since we have such a big gap in job opportunities and youth population,” she said. “We do actually use the real issues and documents they use for the African Union.”
Each person must present their resolution to the rest of the committee members from other schools and persuade them to get their resolution passed.
“As a committee, we have to come together and get a final document made. The hard part is to make sure that the things you want to see are there,” Potin said.
She said the club can teach members how to convince others to see their viewpoints.
In seeking new members for the next school year, Potin said the club is looking for “go-getters.”
“We want people who are gung-ho and people who are ready to try something new,” she said. “We (are) interested in putting out the best for Mercer, and we want to keep the club alive and keep it going (with people) who are just as in love as we are.”