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Published May 10, 2023
Members of the University of Wyoming’s new Model Arab League Club, a student organization that partners with the Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies Program, recently participated in activities and won awards at the regional and national levels.
Model Arab League works to bring students from all walks of life together while promoting a region of the world that is far removed from so many UW students.
“Model Arab League presents a unique experience to engage dynamically with a historically underrepresented region. In this diplomatic simulation, students get the opportunity to think critically about some of the foremost challenges facing the Middle East and North Africa and debate potential solutions to these matters,” says Morgan Miller, vice president of the UW Model Arab League Club. “For me, Model Arab League has been crucial in furthering my public speaking and negotiation skills, and running the regional conference this February as a co-secretary-general challenged my leadership capabilities. These skills will be crucial to a future career in international relations.”
Organized by the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations, Model Arab League’s mission is to promote teamwork, leadership skills and on-the-fly decision-making, with the ultimate goal of aiding students in learning about the government and politics of the Middle East and North Africa region. Similar to other model simulations, Model Arab League is based on the actual Arab League or League of Arab States, a regional intergovernmental organization.
The program started at UW in 2016 as a class taught by Eric Nigh, a UW assistant lecturer and director of the Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies Program. Since 2016, the program has grown significantly and, as the program grew, the need for a student-led component became apparent. To aid the growth of the program, the UW Model Arab League Club was formed in fall 2022.
In February, UW’s Model Arab League hosted the regional Rocky Mountain Model Arab League conference. High school and college students from UW and the Rocky Mountain region competed in four councils, where they developed leadership skills and negotiation tactics, and learned to work in a team.
A total of five schools attended the event: three from Wyoming, one from Utah and one from Idaho. Students from these schools spent one weekend intensively diving into the political, social and defense issues that face the Arab League. Four of the five schools in attendance won awards for representing their countries, and students from all schools got a taste of what it looks like to be a UW student.
“Rocky Mountain Model Arab League was incredibly successful this year,” says Taelor Nielsen, high school and community outreach coordinator for the Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies Program. “Our team was able to create opportunities to discuss a region of the world that is not typically a part of students’ everyday lives.”
Students from UW also applied for the national team and travel to Washington, D.C., for the National University Model Arab League conference. There, students visit the embassies of the country they represent in the conference; meet with various governmental and nongovernmental organizations focusing on international work; and visit various historical sites during their free time, in addition to competing at the conference.
During the 2023 National University Model Arab League hosted at the end of March, students met with representatives of the International Monetary Fund; an ambassador at the U.S. Institute of Peace; staffers in U.S. Sen. John Barrasso’s office; and a Department of State representative to the United Arab Emirates. Additionally, students traveled all around Washington, D.C., visiting the National Mall to see the cherry blossoms in full bloom, various museums and some of the most symbolic structures in America.
“While many universities competing in the National Model simply participate in the conference, the UW team always makes the most of our time in Washington, D.C. In my experience, UW places a heavy significance on experiential learning,” Miller says. “This year, the Model Arab League Club president and I did our best to exemplify this UW value by making sure that the team was consistently exposed to meaningful extracurricular experiences. In addition to the formal visits we planned, many of us also had the opportunity to eat dinner with a representative from the International Monetary Fund, tour the National Gallery, get coffee with a recruiter from the Peace Corps and more.”
In the past, the club has seen great success in its competitions, winning a number of awards both on an individual level and on a team level. In 2021, UW’s Model Arab League team was invited to join the National University Model Arab League competition, in addition to competing at the regional Rocky Mountain Model Arab League competition. In its first appearance at nationals, the UW team won five awards. Overall, the team placed third out of 26 schools.
In 2022, the UW team traveled to Washington, D.C., for its first in-person national conference. There, the team won 10 awards total for its representation of the Syrian National Coalition in all nine councils and again placed third out of 22 schools.
This year, the UW team once again traveled to Washington, D.C. While representing the United Arab Emirates, the team won seven awards total across all nine councils to place third out of 21 schools.
“We are very proud of the Model Arab League student organization, their leadership and our team’s excellent performance at the National University Model Arab League,” Nigh says. “Once again, Wyoming has outperformed top schools from around the United States with high-ranking Middle East and North African studies programs. We really believe that what we have at UW and our connection with the Middle East are something special.”
As a UW student organization, UW’s Model Arab League Club looks to accomplish the missions of the university in addition to benefiting UW students and the greater Wyoming community. By encouraging education about the Middle East and North Africa region, it prepares students to live in a complex and interdependent world that requires mutual respect and understanding of all perspectives. The structure of Model Arab League also serves as a platform for collaborative work among students, faculty and other national organizations, and the mission of Model Arab League includes encouraging leadership development.
In accomplishing these missions of the university, UW Model Arab League has helped graduate students with important skills. Some previous participants of Model Arab League at UW have gone on to work for the U.S. Foreign Service, the Department of State and various nongovernmental organizations.
Members of UW’s Model Arab League Club, listed by hometown, are:
Agadir, Morocco -- Ayoub Nachat.
Amman, Jordan -- Aseel Abu Tarboush.
Casper -- Presley Bloom, Bryant Crouse, Joshua Gaither, Thayne Macy, Rhiannon McLean, Cameron Moore, Gage Raicevich and Jessica Yang.
Cheyenne -- Andrew Bishop, Maeve Knepper and Israel Rosales.
Cody -- Daniel Deming and Kaitlyn Polley.
Diamond Point, N.Y. -- Morgan Miller.
Douglas -- Liam Trimnal.
Fukuoka, Japan -- Kimika Hinoshita.
Gaza Strip, Palestine -- Abdalrahim Abuwarda.
Gillette -- Fiza Khan.
Kirkland, Wash. -- Reese Davies.
Sheridan -- Patrick Hamilton.
Wilmington, Mass. -- Michael Bettencourt.