From Alim Hassim in Washington DC
Stabroek News
April 13, 1999

A delegation of University of Guyana students attending the Model Organisation of American States (OAS) General Assembly in Washington, DC was on Friday declared the winner of the Edgar Maya award for best delegation.

Earlier in the day, the Guyanese student delegation experienced another moment of joy when delegate Christine McGowan, a final year law student, was elected assistant secretary general for the Model OAS General Assembly 2000. McGowan contested the position with a delegate representing the United States of America.

The declaration of Guyana's award was announced at the closing ceremony of the model general assembly, where more than 500 delegates, US officials and diplomats gathered. The audience burst into loud applause and gave a standing ovation as the winner was announced. Earlier, a number of other awards were presented.

Among those present to congratulate the Guyana delegation were OAS Assistant Secretary-General, Ambassador Christopher Thomas, and Guyana's Ambassador to the US, Odeen Ishmael. Ambassador Ishmael expressed joy at the success of UG, his alma mater.

He noted that over the past five days, the students drawn from 34 universities in the region, discussed a number of issues and problems affecting the hemisphere and that on leaving they would return home with a clearer understanding of those issues.

He added that these students will be the ones in the near future to contribute to the solution of these hemispheric problems.

This is the first year that the organisers of the Model OAS extended invitations to universities outside of the USA to participate in this event. Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago also participated.

Ishmael said this Model OAS has been the best since it started 19 years ago.

Co-ordinator of the Model OAS, Nancy Irigoyen, commended the delegations and urged them to work harder to ensure that people from all origins can reap the fruits of this hard work. At a reception hosted by the Caribbean Ambassadors after the closing ceremony, Ambassador Thomas commended the Guyana delegation and urged the students to continue their good work. Nine resolutions presented by the Guyanese students were debated in the various committees and all were passed.

The spirit of cooperation among the large gathering of students was evident when a Guyanese delegate who attended the assembly as an observer was invited to act as a delegate of El Salvador. The Guyanese students began arriving home on Sunday and the last batch will return today. They expressed sincere thanks to all those who facilitated their participation. A ceremony was hosted in their honour by the Honorary Consul in New York on Saturday.

The delegation comprised Nalini Lal, head delegate; Alim Hassim, assistant head delegate; Christine McGowan, Vidushi Persaud, Emil McGarrell, Walter Alexander, Burthrum Toney, Bryan Joseph, Samantha Lawson, Wendy Hermanstyne, Lynne McDonald, Melania Cordis, Roy Marshall, and Ronald Burch-Smith. They were accompanied by faculty advisers, Dr Mark Kirton, Dr Daniel Kumar and Patricia Hopkinson Carter.