Model Arab League to represent WKU in upcoming national competition

Sarah Yaacoub

Next weekend, seven WKU students will be going to the national competition of Model Arab League, a program sponsored by the National Council on US-Arab Relations that teaches students about international diplomacy, specifically in Arabic-speaking countries.

Model Arab League operates similarly to a Model United Nations conference, with nations assigned to each participating school for representation. The conference is made up of councils, and each council consists of representatives from each nation that advocate in the interests of their assigned nation following intensive research. The WKU team has been preparing for the national competition through regular meetings as well as independent research on council topics and how they pertain to the university’s nation.

This year, WKU was assigned to represent the United Arab Emirates. Past years’ assignments include Saudi Arabia and Jordan. Each team is scored on its ability to pass resolutions, work together with other members of the council and accurately play the role of its own state, and judging is conducted by members of the delegations in conjunction with faculty advisors, most of whom are professors at the participating universities.   

Councils include a diversity of fields, from humanitarianism to defense, economy to the environment, and the topics discussed in each council vary widely. Each team studies up on its nation’s stance on each of the issues and arrives to the competition prepared to debate and defend its policy.

Noah Stevens, an Elizabethtown junior, has been studying Arabic at WKU since his freshman year and is majoring in Arabic and international affairs. He has also been a member of Model Arab League, which WKU first participated in during the spring of 2015, throughout his time here, moving up the ranks to his current position as team president and national chair and now overseeing and facilitating a council at the national conference.   

Participation in Model Arab League is open to all students, regardless of major, and since none of the discussion is conducted in Arabic, knowledge of the language is not necessary to joining. Majors of current team members include economics, business and political science and language proficiency levels range from none to 300- and 400-level Arabic students.

“It’s great for students looking for ways to get involved and talk about issues affecting the world,” Stevens said. “While the primary goal is to learn about issues facing the Arab world, we also compete, learn debate skills and pass resolutions we think would benefit our state.”

Brenna Mathews, a Frankfort freshman and first-year member of Model Arab League at WKU, agreed that the skills taught by the organization extend well beyond foreign relations.  

“It’s a really great opportunity to help solve problems and think through things a lot more thoroughly,” Mathews said.

Mathews said she is new to both Arabic and policy, but she hopes to continue her involvement with Model Arab League after this year.

Stevens said he appreciates the opportunity to compete and represent WKU.

“[We] appreciate the ability to compete, win awards and represent WKU at the national and international levels as a result of institutional support from the Department of Modern Languages and the Potter College Dean’s Office,” Stevens said.

Features reporter Sarah Yaacoub can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @sarahyaacoub1.