A 13-party delegation (composed of two faculty members) will head to Washington for the 35 Model Organisation of the American States (OAS) general assembly for high schools.
The assembly will be held from November 30 to December 2 at the OAS Headquarters, Washington, DC.
This fits right in with teacher Krissy Luke’s belief that learning is more than sitting in a classroom and hearing the teacher speak.
Opportunities like these, she said are necessary for the individual’s overall development. “We need to start having children undergo opportunities like these. There are schools who have been participating for the last 35 years. What have we been doing for the last 35 years?” For Luke, opportunities like these,“provide a simulation of the OAS general assembly and the Caribbean Council and different workings like the committees and working groups for the students to have an understanding of how Inter-American affairs are handled and how organisations like the OAS work. These are the things they care about because most of them are in Upper Six doing Caribbean Studies. These are the things they would have just heard about in the classroom, it is a great opportunity for them, now, to go and actually see how it works.” The delegates were not chosen by Luke but rather came themselves after she posted a flyer asking for those who were interested in international affairs and had a drive for fund-raising. The group’s first meeting took place on June 16 and since then, “we have become close,” she said.
For her students, some of whom dream of becoming ambassadors and diplomats one day, this provides that career path into foreign affairs which she described as no longer being linear.
“On the initial poster I had if you’re interested in international affairs, in regional affairs and you have that inkling.
“Some of them want to become ambassadors, diplomats. One student, she’s a science student but she wants to focus on food and agriculture. She wants to work in the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) one of these days. Foreign affairs is no longer this linear path and you have to work in a foreign affairs office.
You can also work in international organisations which are also willing to work with the student.” Although the programme has been around for the past 35 years, Luke never heard of it until recently and was uncertain as to whether other schools in TT had participated.
But she was certain that this was something and other programmes like it all schools in TT should try to participate in.“Education today is not only sitting in a classroom and hearing a teacher speak. You also have to go out and be practical.” The delegates get the chance to learn of other countries not necessarily representing the country that they are from. The TT delegation will be representing Colombia.
This she saw as assisting in building life qualities such as being a team player and leadership skills.
It also assisted in helping the students build their career paths even before starting tertiary education.
“You see the medical school at Mt Hope now asking for co-curricular activities. These things are integral and these are the options that they have. In the 21st century we can no longer put a student into a classroom with a chalkboard and be planning to teach. There is the Internet; there are practical things that you can do.” The topics being addressed at this year’s agenda are those being grappled with by current world leaders and organisations such as information and communication technologies (ICTs), natural disaster preparedness and optimisation of the use of ICTs and telecommunications, sustainable democracy, conflict resolution and the Mission to support the peace process in Colombia, cybersecurity and child online protection and the role of culture in development with inclusion.
For students such as Darielle Roberts, 18, this gives her chance to be a part of something ‘wonderful.” “At first when I saw the saw the flyer, I was like, yes, I want to do this because it seemed like a great opportunity. Something I would want to be a part of. Then getting into it and doing research and reading about OAS , going on their website and seeing that this was just the beginning. It is something, if you do well, you can continue.
There are opportunities if you do well at this level you can participate again next year as someone leading all of the different countries.” Over the five-month preparatory period, Luke has seen growth in her students, recalling one student who took up the leadership mantle and who did not enjoy running but got up early to lead the team on a early run up Mt St Benedict.
The group has received sponsorship from RBC bank to cover its registration fees but has been holding several fund-raising ventures to cover their accommodation and ground transport fees. Of the $25,000 needed the group has raised $11,000 so far.
With the upcoming car washes and donation sheets on the way to raise the rest of the funds, Luke noted that this was an opportunity that gave the students a chance not only to learn about the internal workings of an international organisation but it gave them a chance to “speak”.
“This is an opportunity for them to go and speak well. Not to use text language. They get an opportunity to learn how to dress well. They’ve been advised to wear business wear, no jeans. These are things that we are losing, practical things our grandparents spoke of.”