|April 21, 2000||Volume 7, Number 15|
U of S students follow-up Model OAS session with personal visit with veteran diplomat
Hot on the heels of their high-profile trip to the Model Organization of American States conference in Edmonton March 26-31, a group of eight U of S students has now gotten a close-up look at the real world of international diplomacy.
The students had a three-hour meeting April 12 with Canadas Ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg, and la Francophonie 35-year veteran diplomat Claude Laverdure.
The ambassador, who has also served for Canada in France, Tunisia, Haiti, and Zaire (with accreditation to Rwanda, Burundi and the Congo) provided details of work in Canadas foreign service, and related it to the students recent experience preparing for and participating in the MOAS conference in Edmonton.
Laverdure told the students that much of the communications and partnership work they did in building support for their trip to MOAS is the same as the work foreign diplomats do in building support abroad for Canadian positions and organizations.
Rob Norris, U of S Internationals Research and Communications Officer who was advisor to the students during the Edmonton trip, and who set up the meeting with Ambassador Laverdure says, "The students had an opportunity to gain the personal perspective of a multilateral diplomat. Heres one of Canadas most seasoned and respected multilateral diplomats, and he engaged them regarding the sources of frustration and the sources of success in his work."
During the MOAS session in Edmonton, the U of S students four of whom are Aboriginal had the role of representing the Bahamas. They were among 42 universities from throughout the western hemisphere at the event.
The U of S delegation cause a bit of a stir at MOAS when it walked out during committee meetings over procedural questions concerning numbers of votes required for a majority.
The Saskatchewan students presented two motions to the Model OAS.
The first, on the prevention of illegal immigration, lost.
The second, on establishing a scientific body to study issues related to water in the western hemisphere, passed.
At parallel sessions of an Inter-American Forum for Young Leaders, the U of S group raised the importance of Aboriginal issues. Norris says students Carla Swan and Donald Morin, in particular, debated other young leaders until 2:00 a.m. one morning, to ensure that the term "Indigenous Peoples" remained in the Forums document that will be presented to the OAS General Assembly meeting to be held in Windsor, Ont. later this year.
"The next day, all of the u of S delegates were rewarded for their efforts with congratulatory support from Canadas Secretary of State for Latin America and Africa, the Hon. David Kilgour," Norris said.
Norris said MOAS was an invaluable experience for the U of S students.
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