Model Arab League tops off year with national competition

Thirteen U students represented the nation of Qatar at this year’s National University Model Arab League competition, which was held in Washington, D.C., last weekend.

The team, as a whole, finished in a four-way tie, just outside of award-winning rankings.

Although their hopes were high just a month after they earned the top honor of Outstanding Delegation at regionals in Denver, team members did not see the experience as a defeat by any means.

“I think they were ready for us,” said Debbie Dilley, president of the U’s Model Arab League. “Once you’re marked as a good school, everything immediately becomes much more difficult.”

The vice president of the U’s team and honorable mention award-winner, D.J. Price, said, “I knew what I was going up against, so there was more of a sense of accomplishment than last year. People told me they had prepared for us this time.”

Jack Lewis, a first-year student at the U, looked past the awards aspect of the competition despite being named honorable mention along with Price.

Lewis says he was lucky to get involved in the program early. “I have three more years left to get into Middle East politics and to gain experience with debate skills,” Lewis said. “I’ve learned a lot…and I look forward to being involved in the next three years.”

Price said he felt a certain degree of satisfaction with his award. However, he was more enthusiastic about his second honor of being selected as next year’s chairperson of Palestinian Affairs, which is one of six committees in the council.

“Historically, all the chairs of this committee have had a year of chair experience,” Price said.

He says he recognizes that the position comes with a lot of responsibility and requires an enormous amount of leadership, as a poor chairperson can ruin the entire council.

He cited a walkout at last year’s national competition to illustrate his point.

The U joins the company of Converse College and of Kennesaw State, Northeastern and Harvard Universities on the short list of schools that have produced Palestinian Committee chairpersons in the past 10 years.

The U may not be an Ivy League school, like Harvard, but with the continual accomplishments of the relentless Model Arab League, along with support from the Middle East Center and its Outreach Program, the U is being projected onto the national scene with some distinguished company.

In a limited sense, the U is similar to the small Arab nation of Qatar, which it represented at nationals.

Aside from a brief border clash with Saudi Arabia in 1992 and declaring its independence on Sept. 1, 1971, Qatar has generally lacked the worldwide recognition that other Middle Eastern nations often receive.

Just as schools like Harvard often overshadow the U on the national scene, events in Israel, Iran and Iraq have overshadowed Qatar on the world scene.

Although it may be somewhat of a stretch, one might say the Model Arab League has done for the U what al-Jazeera television has done for Qatar.

With the advent of the al Jazeera news network, Qatar’s popularity is on the rise and with the accomplishments of the Model Arab League, the U’s national admiration is climbing in a similar fashion.

“It’s cool to have this state university ranked with big private schools,” Price said.

The league is a nationwide program that has been helping students develop political debate skills through mock delegation processes for the past 22 years.

This year, the league engaged 200 students hailing from 23 different universities in an academic debate forum centered around issues relevant to the 22 Arab nations that make up the League of Arab States.

Competitions will resume during Fall Semester and the next regional competition will be held at the U.

The year has come to a close for the league in terms of competition, meaning the seniors will be graduating and leaving the club in need of new members.

To get involved, contact Debbie Dilley, Linda Adams or June Marvel at the Middle East Center.

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