Although Lebanon is thousands of miles away, one group of students have mastered the country’s civic and public affairs.
Eighteen Texas State students spent four days in April at the National University Model Arab League Conference in Washington D.C. They represented the needs, interests and resolutions for Lebanon while gaining hands on, valuable experience.
For four years, students have been representing Texas State in the National University Model Arab League Conference. This is an opportunity for students to be civic and public affair activists for one of 22 member states making up the League of Arab States. In 2016, The Boko Awards awarded the Texas State Model Arab League with the Outstanding Academic Activity.
The conference took place at Georgetown University, and the students had four days to solve four problems. The delegates must use their knowledge of Middle Eastern policies to help formulate solutions for issues dealing with the country’s defense, economics, politics and social aspects.The last day of the event includes the summit session where awards and a farewell are given to close out the conference.
Both Devin Barrett, political science junior, and N’Deye Ndiaye, alumna and former president, were granted the Outstanding Delegate Award for their work in the Council of Arab Economic Affairs Ministers; Barrett and Ndiaye served as partners. They worked on resolutions for the unemployment rate in Lebanon.
“The Middle East is a growing region, and it is crucial to pay attention to it,” Barrett said. “The Middle East is complex and in crisis, but there are ways to fix it.”
The Model Arab League members prep for a year, gathering information about their assigned country before competing against other schools in the spring competition. The League meets weekly during the school year to practice in mock competition.
Elizabeth Bishop, associate professor of modern Arab history, said a variety of students having expertise in different areas is helpful and vital to the group. For instance, a criminal justice major would know more regarding law enforcement, which could be one of the topics the Council of Political Affairs has chosen for debate.
“We are more successful the more inclusive we are (given the) variety of studies Texas State offers,” Bishop said. “Students may read something in class, but it is when they go to competition and try to accomplish something based on what they learned in class, they see the value of this academic activity.”
No one goes into the organization knowing everything, and it is the responsibility of the president to bring everyone to the same level of expertise.
Brittlin Richardson, president of The Model Arab League, said it can be challenging to remain diplomatic, but everyone has to remember they are representing a country.
“My number one goal is to represent our country accurately with all the information we have, and participate to get good resolutions out there,” Richardson said.
Through The Model Arab League, students can utilize their experiences in their respective fields, as well as build teamwork skills.
“(MAL) is good for many students who take part,” Bishop said. “It shows (students) a direction of transition, like ‘once I get my B.A. I know what am I going to do with it.’”
Students are expected to utilize the skills the Model Arab League has provided them in their future endeavors. The experience and knowledge obtained from this academic activity has students continuing to take part every year, making for a valuable college experience.