WKU Model Arab League to receive honors at conference

Members of the Model Arab League (from left to right) sophomore Alexandria Knipp, freshman Noah Stevens, senior Chris McKenna, senior Hatim Alamri and junior Ella Shipp were all honored at the regional conference for the Model Arab League at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. “Essentially it’s like a Model U.N. conference but the focus is on Arab nations,” Knipp explained. Jennifer King/HERALD

Madihah Abri

Over the past weekend, five WKU students were honored at the regional conference for the Model Arab League at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

The Model Arab League allows participants to learn the statesmanship involved in international affairs among independent states in the actual Arab League but on a smaller scale. Universities from across the region compete, debate and resolve issues currently happening within the Middle Eastern and North African regions of the world.

“We simulate doing what the actual Arab League does. It mirrors exactly the actual Arab League, so we have the same councils and so forth,” said David DiMeo, assistant professor of modern languages and the Arabic program and coordinator of the Model Arab League.

The Model Arab League chapter for WKU is only in its second year, but the students have already managed to make their mark at the mock debates. The delegates from WKU representing the nation of Jordan were Noah Stevens, Alexandria Knipp, Chris McKenna, Ella Shipp and Hatim Alamri.

“Our students were phenomenal representatives of the university … and we actually brought our red towels to the assembly,” Dimeo said. “They were tremendous representatives — not only in my opinion, but that was also remarked by a lot of faculty, and even the director wrote to me and said she was very impressed.”

Dimeo said students participating in the Model Arab League can gain more than understanding from attending conferences.

“This is a gateway to real world career opportunities,” Dimeo said. “The National Council on U.S.-Arab [Relations] have a lot of internships and programs, and so they are actively recruiting people to go on these internships and recruiting programs, and this is one of the many places they recruit from.”

Alexandria Knipp, Olive Hill sophomore, uses the mock debates to further her career. Knipp will be attending the United States Foreign Service Internship Program that works with the Department of State in Washington, D.C.

Knipp is one of the original founders, along with Chris McKenna, of WKU’s chapter of the Model Arab League and has attended both years.

This year, Knipp received the opportunity to be chairwoman of the Environmental Affairs Council.

“I think my biggest challenge was having limited time to discuss very wicked problems. They were extensive in nature, and the delegates have to have time to debate and write the policies,” Knipp said.

Knipp received the prestigious award for outstanding chair in the entire conference.

Although the league provides a chance to work in government and politics, some students attend the conference for other reasons.

“I decided to do it out of passion and desire to experience and agenda setting,” Alamri said.

Alamri, a senior originally from Saudi Arabia, brought both an American perspective and the perspective of a Saudi lifestyle to the council.

“Coming from a different perspective, of course I have to uphold my country’s views and beliefs, but I was still encouraged to keep an open mind, which became beneficial to applying those perspectives to the Model Arab League,” Alamri said.

Alamri represented WKU on the Social and Economic Council along with his partner Shipp.

“I loved working with some of the brightest minds and watching issues that are already implemented, but are not widespread, grow under those minds,” Alamri said.

Along with Knipp, Louisville senior McKenna won the distinguished delegate award for the Palestinian Affairs Commitee.

Stevens, an Elizabethtown freshman, also received an award as outstanding delegate for his leadership skills on the Joint Defense Council.

Stevens proposed a resolution to combat the threat of the Islamic State group within the Jordanian region. Steven’s proposal established a framework that reorganized how the U.N. Arab force could take immediate action in defeating the Islamic State group.

“I had to take a leadership role in getting all the other schools to agree because they represented some countries that are not as cooperative in the Arab world,” Stevens said.

Stevens found the challenge and environment refreshing and enjoyed being around other people as passionate as he is about international affairs and the Middle East.

“I think the Model Arab League is a good example of how people our age have good policy ideas and can represent good ideas for … the future,” Stevens said.

Stevens and Knipp plan to continue their participation in the Model Arab League. The chapter hopes to gain enough participating members to go to the national conference eventually.

“We have the quality and know we can train our students to do well. Now we just need the quantity,” Dimeo said.