This past weekend, the Colgate Model Arab League (CMAL) participated in the internationally-recognized National University Model Arab League Conference (NUMAL), located in Washington D.C., for the first time in the club’s history. At Sunday’s closing ceremonies, sophomores Jake Gomez, Leila Ismaio, Melissa Verbeek and first-year Michael McDowell received outstanding delegate awards; the highest award an individual delegation can receive at the conference.
The National University Conference is one of five inter- national conferences and one of 15 domestic conferences held by the National Council on U.S. Arab Relations as part of an international competition circuit known as the Model Arab League (MAL). At a standard MAL conference, every attending university simulates the role of one of the 22 nations that make up the political body known as the Arab League—similar to the format of Model United Nations.
Undergraduate and graduate students alike attend MAL conferences. At this year’s NUMAL tournament, Colgate University represented the delegation of Kuwait.
Students on a delegation are split among topic-specific councils that debate issues relevant to modern Arab states. Some of these councils include the Council of Palestinian Affairs, the Special Council of Women and Children, the Council on Political Affairs, the Council of Environmental Affairs and the Joint Defense Council. A maximum of two students from each university delegation may represent their assigned country on each council.
The Colgate Model Arab League sophomore team only launched in the Spring of 2018, but has received awards at every conference attended thus far.
Last fall, the Colgate delegation won the distinguished delegate awards at a regional conference at Northeastern University in Boston.
According to the National Council on U.S. and Arab Relations—an American non-profit, educational NGO that is dedicated to educating Americans regarding the Middle East and North Africa region—the Model Arab League seeks to “provide primarily American but also Arab and other international students opportunities to develop invaluable leadership skills,” and “to learn firsthand what it is like to put themselves in the shoes of real-life Arab diplomats and other foreign affairs practitioners.”
Verbeek said that though this is her first time participating in a competition of this sort, she grew from the experience.
“This is our first time going to nationals, and we performed really well. This is my first year ever doing a debate-esque activity, and I had so much fun and learned a lot,” she said.
Sophomore Kendya Kennedy, a Spanish and International Relations double concentrator, also enjoyed the conference despite not being involved in either the Arabic or MIST program.
“I definitely enjoyed the experience. People should not focus on how niche a club is. I do not speak Arabic, nor do I study the Middle East, but I saw one aspect—one of diplomacy—that I really was interested by. This was a great opportunity to develop my critical speaking and diplomatic skills,” she said. “You should try new clubs that are outside your comfort zone, especially if you see it as something that your friends are very passionate about.”