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Coronavirus Can't Stop Debaters

As a former Model United Nations coach, I was very inspired by this story of debaters organizing a virtual conference and not allowing COVID-19 to cancel their conference this year.

The Washington Model Organization of American States (WMOAS) is a simulation of the Organization of American States (OAS) General Assembly and is held annually in Washington DC. Colleges and Universities from across North and South America attend each year. However, because of COVID-19 the conference could not take place this year. But instead of giving up, teachers, students and volunteers organized an e-Model using Webex. Students discussed and debated various issues from carbon emissions to human rights. Altogether, 17 universities attended the e-conference on April 6th-9th.

“Young people working together to hash out solutions to global problems, and doing so in the current environment of a pandemic, is sorely needed,” says Towson professor Colleen Ebacher, who leads the Towson University delegation. “While it’s been a lot of work to transition to this new virtual model, it seems even more critical right now.”

“You acquire so many skills through the process of preparing—public speaking skills, debating skills, writing skills, social interaction, politicking and negotiating,” says Vanessa Clark ’20, an international studies major who served as a social media rapporteur for the spring 2020 e-Model.

Even the original OAS shouted out the Conference! Secretary-General H.E. Luis Almagro tweeted the student delegates: “I wish you great success and commend you for your effort & dedication to virtually meet & carry out the work in these times of #COVID19.”

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