“Student delegates are expected to assume the ideas and attitudes of their Arab country,” said Natalie Zink ‘14, a Gettysburg College student who participated in the November Model Arab League (MAL) event, which is sponsored by the National Council on U.S. – Arab Relations. "Students must be well prepared on the issues" in order to represent nations effectively at the event.
The Outstanding Delegation award was notable because the Gettysburg students chose to represent Djibouti. “It’s the first time a delegation representing Djibouti has ever won any of the MALs,” said Gettysburg College Prof. Amy Evrard, coordinator of the Middle East and Islamic Studies program and advisor to the MAL student delegation. “Djibouti is a small country that has very little power of persuasion in the Arab League and many delegations don't wish to take it on. Our team was excited to represent Djibouti as a kind of wild card that would allow them to be creative and open to lots of suggestions for resolutions on Arab League issues. For a delegation representing this small African country against powerful Middle Eastern giants such as Egypt and Syria, winning Outstanding Delegation was a wonderful accomplishment!”
Gettysburg’s delegation was interdisciplinary with students from all different majors and class years. “It is easy to look at an issue from one point of view and forget how a person in a different position would view the same issue. The Model Arab League was truly an eye-opening experience,” said Zink. “The occasional conversation in the Arabic language with other students at the conference was also an awesome experience and a wonderful surprise.”
“Our team came with natural confidence, knowledge, interest in the Arab world, openness to learning more, and a desire to have a good time,” said Evrard. “I'm glad to know that this attitude is what makes for outstanding delegations and delegates.”
The MAL is an opportunity for interested students to research the history and politics of Arab nations and debate relevant issues in a diplomatic model setting. Students learn firsthand how difficult political issues can be to resolve when there are multiple perspectives. The simulation allows students to build their skillsets in negotiation, diplomacy, debate, and compromise.
“MAL starts with a plenary session during which the issues are set, and then they break into councils and spend the bulk of the weekend preparing, debating, and deciding on resolutions within the council meetings,” said Evrard. “There is a final session on the second day during which the entire Arab League votes on the resolutions. During the council sessions, students have to rally others to their cause through moderated and unmoderated caucusing, where they try to influence other delegations to join in their resolution.”
Individual student award-winners include:
Outstanding Delegation for Djibouti: Richard Aime ‘12 (political science); Kelsey Chapman ‘15 (economics); Kate Landis ‘14 (english); Katie Patterson ‘15 (anthropology and international affairs); Jesse Siegel ‘16; Julian Weiss ‘15 (history).
Outstanding Delegates: Mollie Greenwood ‘13 (globalization studies) and Natalie Zink ‘14 (interdisciplinary studies – Arabic and the contemporary Middle East) for the Council on Palestinian Affairs. Richard Aime for the Council on Political Affairs.
Honorable Mention: Jesse Siegel (Council on Political Affairs); Kelsey Chapman (Council on Environmental Affairs Ministers); Julian Weiss (Council of Social Affairs Ministers).
This was the second year Gettysburg College participated in MAL. Students who are interested in participating can apply in the fall of each academic year.
Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition. Alumni include Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate, and other distinguished scholars. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.
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