The Southeast Model African Union (SEMAU) is held once a year at one of the University System of Georgia campuses. Sponsored by the Board of Regents, the System Council for International Education, and the University System Africa Council, SEMAU is a simulation of the annual meeting of Heads of State of the African Union. It also serves as a conference on African affairs which gives students an unprecedented opportunity to learn about all facets of African life. Georgia College was privileged to host SEMAU 2004. This year’s event was hosted by Columbus State University from November 14 to 16.
Each university or college chooses one or more countries to represent at the conference. Selected students carry out research and attend lectures beforehand, which prepare them not only about African affairs, but also the nature, policies and attitudes of the country or countries they will represent at SEMAU. The work of the conference takes place in five committees: the Social Committee, the Economic Committee, the Committee on Democracy and Human Rights, the Peace and Security Committee, and the Executive Council of Council Ministers.
The exercise provides a splendid opportunity for students, not only to learn about Africa, but to hone their diplomatic and conflict resolution skills. This opportunity complements the university’s efforts in experiential learning and internationalization. Antonio Guimaraes, a Criminal Justice student agrees, “Students would never be able to get this kind of experience within the classroom….I would personally recommend students to at least attend this conference once within their college career…” Gregory May, a Sociology student, shared that, “This was my first time going, but I do not think it will be the last. I am a non-traditional student…and to see such drive and push from the younger students makes me want to drive harder to keep up too.”
Dr. Charles Ubah, Professor of Criminal Justice has served as one of the student advisors in the program for eleven years. Dr. Ubah notes that “The Southeast Model of the African Union (SEMAU) is a great initiative that worth all the time, energy and funds involve in it! That is the reason why Drs. Eustace Palmer, Funke Fontenot and I make every effort to recruit, prepare and participate with students in the program. It is a great opportunity for students who are interested in African affairs in particular or in international or multi-cultural affairs in general. Students meet others interested in Africa, hear a distinguished African (usually an Ambassador) giving a keynote address on Africa, acquire in-depth knowledge of the African continent and gain insights into the art of diplomacy. This is of great importance at a time when Georgia College, in particular, and the University System in general, are emphasizing internationalization and learning beyond the classroom experience.”
Sixteen Georgia College students, including ten students from the Department of Government and Sociology represented Botswana, Nigeria and South Africa. They included:
Chelsea Mayo – Criminal Justice
Carolyn Davis – Political Science
Justin Hanson – Criminal Justice
Andrew Daniel – Criminal Justice
Savannah Brooks – Criminal Justice
Jessica Reid – Criminal Justice
Gregory May – Sociology
Anthony Butler – Criminal Justice
Zykerious Crawford – Sociology
Antonio Guimaraes – Criminal Justice
The students are advised by Funke Fontenot, Interim Dean of Education and Professor of Criminal Justice; Charles Ubah, Professor of Criminal Justice; and Eustace Palmer, Professor of English.
Next year’s event will be held at Clayton State in Atlanta, Georgia. Students interested in participating in next year’s event may contact any of the above listed advisers.