By Julia Kassem, Staff Writer
On Feb. 12, nine students went forth to represent the University of Michigan-Dearborn at the Model Arab League Conference, held this year at Grand Valley State University.
“Either you come back with the sword or on it,” said Dr. Ronald Stockton as he prepared his 10 delegates, representing Jordan and Palestine at this year’s conference, for battle.
The 2015 delegates certainly heeded his commands, taking home an Outstanding Delegation award in their representation of Palestine and, additionally, several Outstanding Delegate and Honorable mention awards for both countries at this year’s Model Arab League conference.
Model Arab League is a multi-regional competition that involves different colleges from around the region representing different Arab states. Committees for each country are comprised of a committee for Political Affairs, Environmental Affairs, a Council on Palestinian Affairs, Social Affairs, and a Joint Defense Council. Students would convene into rooms with their committees to argue over issues pertinent to their committees, representing the leaders of their respective Arab states.
The issues are typically reflective of current events and crises. This year, topics from water crisis to the threat of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) were recurring themes reflected in the debates in all committees. One council created three new joint defense resolutions while another made a press release reporting a simulated emergency crisis involving an ISIS attack on a Mosul dam.
The delegates for UM-Dearborn this year were comprised of veterans Alex O’Connor, Bradley Pischea, and Michael Yates, as well as new members Zeinab Bazzi, Sarah El Helou, Zeinab Ezzedine, Julia Kassem, Magy Shenouda, and Ali Najaf.
Good leadership and instruction were at the crux of UM-Dearborn’s victory. While some teams had spent up to six months preparing for the conference, Dr. Ronald Stockton displayed both confidence and finesse in assembling and training this year’s delegation, even as late as mid-January.
“Honestly, I wasn’t confident about winning,” recounts Zeinab Ezzedine about the experience. “But in hindsight, Stockton’s three week training really paid off. He made it fun and informative.”
Overall, the students felt that their holistic knowledge of the Middle East as well as their genuine passion for the topic gave them an obvious advantage over other students incentivized into senselessly passing resolutions to fulfill a class or grade requirement.
“With our group,” said junior Ali Najaf. “I felt a sense of passion with no pressure other than actually wanting to be a part of this event.”
The delegates’ experiences show how a pursuit driven by passion, and not for points, makes for a worthy experience, corresponding to the university’s 14 year corollary of success.