Cameroon is coming to Georgia; after a fashion. It’s part of Georgia's 17th Annual Southeast Model African Union (SEMAU) Conference, which will include a team of students from Clayton State University representing Cameroon.
A three-day, student-centered simulation event, hosted this year at Columbus State University, the Southeast Model African Union Conference Africa Council (USAC) and the University System of Georgia, will be held from Nov. 14 to Nov. 16.
“SEMAU is modeled after the Model U.N.,” explains Clayton State Associate Professor of Political Science, Dr. Augustine Ayuk, who will be leading and advising the Clayton State “delegation.” “We chose Cameroon – our students will serve as ambassadors of that country. It’s a very strong exercise in role-playing.
“Cameroon is unique, an Africa in miniature. It’s a one-stop shop with all of the continent’s characteristics. We hope to launch a Clayton State study abroad program to Cameroon next year.”
“This event will give students an opportunity to learn diplomacy and governmental organization through a unique simulation experience,” notes SEMAU Director and Columbus State criminal justice and sociology Professor Dr. Florence Wakoko-Studstill, who adds that SEMAU is actually a two-fold educational experience, involving both classroom learning and experiential learning. The former includes students gathering information, doing research, and learning issues about their specific country in their classrooms, while the latter involves taking part in the simulated meetings of the actual commissions of the African Union.
According to Ayuk, SEMAU is designed to enrich and enhance the students’ understanding of the political, economic, environmental, human rights, social and cultural dimensions of different African countries and how they relate to each other and the rest of the world as members of the African Union. Given the important learning potential of events like SEMAU, Ayuk also professes his thanks for the support of the Clayton State Office of International Programs, his department chair, Dr. Rafik Mohamed, and College of Arts & Sciences Dean Dr. Nasser Momayezi.
Fittingly, Clayton State’s student delegation to SEMAU is a diverse group of seven, including Damian Loback, a junior from Newnan who served 10 years in the U.S. Army, including two tours of duty in Iraq, Riverdale High School graduate Krysten Long, Janet Williams, a legal studies major from Decatur, Lincolnton, Ga., native Brandon Jenkins, Peachtree City’s Nayshka Fauston, Atlanta native Jessica Malcolm, and, to give just the right international touch, Martina Dedaj, a native of Croatia.
Long, who took part in last year’s SEMAU, says it was an eye-opening experience.
“I never thought too much previously about global events,” she explains. “Now I have a different perspective.”
Part of that perspective was learning how to deal with delegates from other countries.
“It got pretty intense in the debates, in the end we were able to agree to disagree,” she recalls.
Ayuk agrees with Long’s assessment, and notes that, in addition to learning about African countries, the students also learn about human relations.
“There are a lot of issues they will learn about, and once they go through the experience, they will know how to address themselves when discussing any type of issues,” he points out.
“I learned how to stand up for my beliefs,” adds Malcolm, who also took part in last year’s SEMAU. “I had to go back in there and fight for what I believed, to be resilient.”
Ayuk also mentions another practical aspect of taking part in SEMAU.
“It adds a lot to your resume,” he says. “One of our students last year ended up getting a teaching job in Japan.”
Williams, the legal studies major, has a similar practical reason for taking part in SEMAU.
“I would love to work for an agency like the U.N.,” she says.