Model Organization of American States expands students’ international knowledge, leadership skills

Baylor MOAS chapter congregates after the November 22 conference hosted by Baylor. Photo courtesy of Mark McGraw

By Raylee Foster | Staff Writer

Baylor has over 375 student organizations, and Model Organization of American States (MOAS), is one that pushes students to become great leaders and communicators. Mark McGraw, temporary lecturer in Spanish and upcoming leader of the MOAS organization, said the group tends to attract smart students with a drive to do well.

“Then what we bring out of those students is an ability to interact interpersonally,” McGraw said. “[Students] talk about MOAS as a situation where they were afraid to talk to two people, they were afraid to talk in front of anyone else, and MOAS equipped them with the ability and the experience to go out and talk in front of 100 people.”

MOAS is an organization that competes regionally, nationally and, in a good year, internationally.

The team is assigned a country ranging from Argentina to Canada in the Northern Hemisphere, and there are different agendas they will tackle. Some of the topics they address include economics, human rights, equality and many others that aim toward spreading democracy, Evansville, Ind., senior and Senate General of MOAS Logan Butler said.

The MOAS team — which is generally composed of 15 student in the spring and 25 in the fall — is looking to begin recruitment earlier for their upcoming year. McGraw said he hopes any interested students will email him.

“I think the perfect candidate in the MOAS program definitely has a passion to help others because at the heart of what the program does is, you know further democracy and help better the hemisphere in every country,” San Benito sophomore Mari Benavides said.

Though MOAS is geared toward seemingly political agendas, the organization itself attracts students from a range of majors. Dr. Joan Supplee, faculty advisor of MOAS, said with tackling world health issues, presenting before a judge and competing internationally in Spanish, there is a place for everyone.

“It’s not just history or political science and international studies majors,” Supplee said. “We have business majors, we have health science majors, sociologists, neuroscientists, you know, it crosses the gamut.”

At the national competition, teams present their resolutions before members of the Organization of American States, and sometimes these resolutions are put in place.

“One of the resolutions that got picked up by the [Organization of American States] was a program to work on drug and addiction programs,” Supplee said. “That was really exciting.”

Other resolutions the team has competed with include food desserts and food distribution programs, indigenously translated voting machines in Mexico and after school programs as a gang prevention plan.

Benavides, who worked to implement indigenous voting machines in Mexico her freshman year, said the work she has done with MOAS has been very meaningful to her.

“We were able to eliminate all these different barriers that they had to create a better democratic election for presidents in Mexico, and that’s been one of my favorite resolutions to work for in conference,” Benavides said.

Butler said this program has opened his eyes to national information that isn’t covered in the U.S. news. Benavides also said MOAS has shown her a lot of the things that would have otherwise gone unnoticed.

“There is a lot of blind spots in learning about other regions in the world in our education as Americans, so there’s a lot of humility that gets fostered when you’re learning for all these other countries where it’s not just this one particular thing like you learn about in a revolution or history class,” Benavides said.

Members of MOAS said they encourage the Baylor community to get involved, in some way with international current events. Butler said he suggests subscribing to the economist or joining other campus organizations.

“Part of this issue is that it’s kind of hard just casually searching in the news and I recognize that, but it literally just can be getting involved whether it be just in a specific thing, if it’s MOAS or if it’s Model UN or if it’s anything,” Butler said. “It’s not that hard but it’s just not publicized.”

While Butler said he encourages students to get involved in any organization that will provide an international knowledge base, McGraw said he highly encourages joining MOAS. He said out of all the student student organizations, MOAS builds the best leaders and provides guidance and skills all students seek in college.

“This is the best opportunity I’ve seen for growing complex student leaders, capable student leaders, I’ve seen it over and over,” McGraw said. “That’s something I think that everybody wants to get out of college and not everybody gives you.”