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Towson’s Model United Nations hosts Panamanian ambassador

From left, student Samantha Figueroa, Panama Ambassador to the United States Mario Jaramillo and TU Associate Provost James DiLisio.

From left, student Samantha Figueroa, Panama Ambassador to the United States Mario Jaramillo and TU Associate Provost James DiLisio.

UPDATE: Mario Jaramillo, the Panamanian ambassador to the United States, shared a collection of stories that both informed and entertained a room full of Towson students Wednesday afternoon in the University Union. Between tales of his time in college and humorous interactions with U.S. officials, Jaramillo educated students about the importance of international diplomacy and the rising influence of Panama as an economic engine of Central and South America.

“Panama has one of the fastest growing economies in the world, averaging nine percent GDP growth for the last six years,” Jaramillo said. “We are the most popular retirement destination for U.S. citizens outside of the United States and have a thriving service economy… When I meet with U.S. officials, everyone has a family or friend connection to Panama.”

One of Jaramillo’s chief achievements since being appointed ambassador in 2011 is helping broker a Free Trade Agreement that was passed by Congress and then signed by President Barack Obama on Oct. 21, 2011.

“President Obama promised me that we’d get the 300 votes from the House of Representatives. Some laughed, but we worked it and when the vote came we got exactly 300 votes,” Jaramillo said.

Wednesday’s event was the first such forum hosted by the Model United Nations of Towson University, a new student organization affiliated with the Student Government Association. Group president Samantha Figueroa provided closing remarks on the event, giving perspective on how the organization was formed and its hopes for future programming that informs the student body of international affairs.

“We had a great turnout and I feel that the event went exceptionally well,” Figueroa said. “It was an honor to have Ambassador Jaramillo here and a great opportunity for our students to learn from him and his experiences. Along with attending conferences and competing against other schools, our Model U.N. group believes it’s important to bring these types of issues to campus for our students.”

Joe McGinn, dean of the Honors College, spoke as part of the event, highlighting the university’s commitment to diversity and awareness of cultural and international issues.

“This is an exciting time at Towson when it comes to us reaching out and extending our reach,” said McGinn. “The most visible representation of that is our beautiful International Walkway. We at Towson are dedicated to creating a diverse, internationally-engaged community and we are excited to see great work from our students like we have here with the Model United Nations.”

ORIGINAL: The Model United Nations of Towson University will host His Excellency Mario Jaramillo, the Panamanian ambassador to the U.S., in a small talk and discussion this Wednesday, Dec. 4, 3-5 p.m. in the Loch Raven Room of the University Union.

Jaramillo will answer questions and discuss international affairs and the relationship between Panama and the U.S. with approximately 60 students and other members of the campus community.

He has served as the Ambassador of Panama to the United States since 2011, when he was appointed by Panama President Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal and presented his credentials to U.S. President Barack Obama to become the 47th Ambassador of Panama.

In his first year in the position, Jaramillo successfully lobbied to approve the Trade Promotion Agreement, a bilateral free trade agreement between Panama and the United States that eliminates obstacles to trade, consolidates access to goods and services, and favors private investment in and between both nations.

He also established an alliance with Gallaudet University, a university for deaf and hard of hearing individuals in Washington, D.C., to open a center in Panama to service the region. Current efforts focus on world trade, education, diplomacy and regional security.

The event is free and open to the public. Those interested in attending should RSVP online.