Students tune diplomacy skills in Model Arab League

01 10 12 Arab League
January 03, 2012

For a team of McDaniel students competing in the Regional Model Arab League, simulated competition provided a rare opportunity to learn diplomacy outside the classroom.

“I had to be able to work with people who wanted different things and who came from different backgrounds,” said junior Emily Schaefer, a double major in Political Science and International Studies and Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies, a new major which is pending Maryland Higher Education Commission approval.

“Because I was in the role of another country, I had to argue for things that I didn’t personally believe in, but they were things the country I represented would have supported,” she said.

From left to right: Mike Marks, a Saudi Prince, Emily Schaefer, Dasa Vilimkova, Olivia Gardner, and Joao Salviano Carmo.

The team represented Morocco in the competition in November at Georgetown University and received an honorable mention for Outstanding Overall Delegation, along with a number of individual awards. Each team chose a country and specific committees drafted resolutions, which were then voted upon during a summit.

The participating students were Schaefer of Hampstead, Md., juniors Joao Salviano Carmo of Budapest, Hungary; Dasha Vilimkova of Annapolis, Md.; Israel de la Cruz of Boston, Mass.; Mike Marks of Ellicott City, Md., and sophomore Olivia Gardner of Little Rock, Ark.

“This type of experience allows the students to learn about real life scenarios and how important it is to compromise and understand the limits other nations face in order to reach agreements,” said Salviano Carmo, a Political Science major, who joined out of curiosity about the politics of the Middle East and to help guide his future career in the field at a non-governmental organization or international institution in Europe, most likely Brussels.

Salviano Carmo won Oustanding Delegation in the Council of Arab Environmental Affairs Ministers, Vilimkova won honorable mention for Outstanding Delegation in the Council on Political Affairs, Schaefer won honorable mention for Outstanding Delegation in the Council of Arab Social Affairs Ministers, and Gardner won honorable mention for Outstanding Delegation in the Council on Palestinian Affairs.

Gardner will use her experience in the simulation during her summer internship in D.C. After graduation, she would like to pursue a graduate degree and Ph.D. in gender studies.

“I think this experience provides students with a way to see how different countries react in a political manner,” she said. “I learned that the Arab countries are not monolithic, they're complex and they all have a different outlook on politics.”

Held annually and sponsored by the National Council on US-Arab Relations for the past 28 years, the Model Arab League program teaches students about the politics and history of the Arab world, and the arts of diplomacy and public speech. Its intent is to prepare students to be knowledgeable, well-trained, and effective citizens as well as civic and public affairs leaders.

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