|University of Houston Clear Lake Arab League Delegation Competes At Nationals|
|Thursday, 07 June 2012 22:58|
HOUSTON, June 5, 2012 — Nine student delegates from University of Houston-Clear Lake competed at the National University Model Arab League in Washington D.C. during April. One student, Cindy Steffens, earned an honorable mention for her work on the Political Affairs Council.
Held annually in Washington, D.C., the National University Model Arab League started as an informal demonstration simulation at Georgetown University in 1983. Over the years, the NUMAL has grown to host more than 300 students from 22 colleges and universities annually in an academic debate forum centered on issues relevant to the League of Arab States that comprises 22 Arab nations.
UH-Clear Lake faculty mentor for the team Associate Professor of Geography Jeff Lash explains that the League of Arab States is a body like the United Nations, but with representatives from 22 Arab countries. The Model Arab League allows students from colleges and universities throughout the country to act as delegates from a specific Arab country. The students prepare for the conference by studying the interests and positions of the chosen country, as well as those of other surrounding or influential members of the Arab League. In addition, students must learn parliamentary procedure and resolution writing, two crucial skills a "delegate" must have in order to succeed in council, in addition to public speaking. Usually students come in with no prior experience and start learning the skills throughout the semester before the conference takes place.
At the NUMAL, students divide into seven councils with two delegates per council. Awards are presented to delegates who are successful in cooperating with delegates from other countries (represented by students from other universities) to write mutually beneficial resolutions. Students who accurately represent their country's positions, and who are active and successful in council sessions receive awards. Awards are also given to university teams overall.
The UHCL team earned an invitation to represent the country of Lebanon at the national meeting after its stellar presentation of Egyptian positions at the regional council meeting held in Houston in March.
The team's experience began with a briefing at the Lebanese embassy hosted by Ambassador Antoine Chedid. The ambassador entertained questions on human trafficking, the ongoing civil war in Syria, and relations with Arab League member states. Beyond an awareness of Lebanese positions on current events, the briefing exposed students to the language of professional diplomacy. Students participated in seven different councils that included the Joint Defense Council, Council on Palestinian Affairs, Council of Arab Social Affairs Ministers, Council on Political Affairs, Council of Arab Environmental Affairs Ministers, Council of Arab Economics Affairs Ministers and Council of Heads of State.
"My experience at the National Model Arab League was one of the most challenging and enlightening academic experiences I've ever had" states Carlton Porter, a delegate on the Council on Environmental Affairs. "We debated Middle Eastern foreign policy and political affairs with some of the best and brightest students in the country. The process itself requires you to think critically about every facet of the issues and think quickly on your feet as you seek cooperation from the other delegates to solve difficult real-world problems in the Middle East."
"As a first-generation college student from a Hispanic heritage, I was never introduced to anything related to Arab League countries" says Imelda Estrada-Wicks. "However, by participating in the Model Arab League I was able to learn more about the politics and history of Arab world. Attending the National University Model Arab League Council in Washington, D.C. made me believe more in myself. If I can master speaking on behalf of a political, social, economic, and religious ideology other than my own, I can do anything."
Student participation at NUMAL was made possible through generous donations from students, faculty, alumni and private citizens. "I am sincerely grateful to the donors who made this experience affordable — their investment was a good one," states student Nora Ventura. "How often do you hear of students being 'addicted' to research, to learning? Not one of us left the conference willingly; we want more opportunities to develop these skills."
The UHCL MALSO plans to attend three Model Arab League events during the 2012-2013 academic year: two regional meetings, one in Boston the other in Houston; and the national meeting in Washington, D.C.
For further information, contact Assistant Professor in Anthropology and Cross-Cultural Studies Maria Curtis at email@example.com; Associate Professor of Geography Jeff Lash at firstname.lastname@example.org; or Associate Professor of Sociology Mike McMullen at email@example.com.
University of Houston-Clear Lake offers more than 80 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, including a doctoral program, from its four schools, which include the School of Business, School of Education, School of Human Sciences and Humanities, and School of Science and Computer Engineering. For more information about the university, visit http://www.uhcl.edu.