Jeremy Craig, 404-413-1357
ATLANTA — At Model Arab League events, students learn more about the Arab world, politics, societies and more as students prepare to represent countries and non-governmental organizations in conferences simulating diplomacy.
|GSU's Model Arab League delegation in Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo, Egypt.|
For GSU’s Model Arab League delegation, there was nothing like being in the region to see the historic changes sweeping the Middle East this year.
In November, Georgia State sent a delegation of 16 students to Cairo’s American University, where the team brought home three of the four top awards for best delegation in three different English-language conferences.
Not only did they do well in their first conferences abroad, but they also met students who participated in the January 2011 events that would lead to the overthrow of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, learning from the Egyptian students’ first-hand experiences.
“It was absolutely amazing,” said Kimmia Salehi, a senior majoring in political science. “We have all been following all of the developments in the news and reading about it, and it was really exciting to witness it, following the Arab Spring.”
Raya Siddiqi, a junior in political science with a minor in Middle East studies, enjoyed talking with Egyptian students who had taken part in the January uprising.
“It was interesting to hear more about what people had to say, especially since we were working with students,” she said. “A lot of youth took part, so it was good to hear first-hand what their experiences were.”
“The Egyptian students had very intimate stories to tell about what they did and how it happened,” said Rashid Naim, director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Political Science and advisor for the students. “That was a really good learning experience for our students. Some of these same Egyptian students are back on the streets now.”
GSU students participated in four separate sessions, representing Tunisia in some committees, representing Turkey as a non-voting member in others, an Egyptian political party in a simulated Egyptian National Assembly, and representing Human Rights Watch – a non-governmental organization – in a forum where the topics were media freedom and the protection of minority rights.
“It forces students to look at the same issues from many different angles,” Naim said. “That’s what made the experience very unique, and we were very pleased with how we did.”
The GSU delegates garnered the best delegation awards for the Egyptian assembly, the media forum and in an economic forum. Beyond political science, students participating in the Model Arab League also gain other skills that can prove useful in other areas of their college careers – and thereafter.
“It was a great experience in terms of academics as well,” Salehi said. “The conferences are amazing because you both learn from the people there, and practice all the skills you’ve been learning for the past year – writing, speaking, negotiating, and being in a room with 40 to 50 other people and trying to write resolutions. It equips you with skills you can use everywhere.”
Earlier in 2011, the Georgia Senate passed a resolution commending both the Model United Nations and Model Arab League programs at Georgia State, as well as Naim for advising the programs.
For the GSU Model Arab League delegates, they will represent Yemen at the next national conference — another country going through enormous change.
Dec. 5, 2011