By SHAUNNA LEAVITT
Thirteen BYU students won the best delegation award and five high committee positions during the Model Arab League held in Denver March 6-8.
BYU was one of 11 universities represented during the mock communion, similar to the annual meeting of the League of Arab States held in Cairo, Egypt.
Like the Arab League, each group was divided into 5 committees: political, economic, security, social/cultural and Palestinian. Each university represented an Arab state; BYU represented Syria.
“This is an effort to allow students to act the part of Arab countries and to get a sense of the problems in the Middle East and beyond,” said Donna Lee Bowen, political science professor who has helped prepare students for the model for the past three years.
Not only did the BYU student group win the best overall delegation award for the second year in a row, but individuals were given high positions in almost every committee.
Brandon Richey, a junior from Bloomington, Ind., majoring in near eastern studies and head delegate of the BYU group, was appointed chairperson for the security committee; Natalie Jensen, a junior from West Valley, Utah was chairperson for the Palestinian committee; Christy Hall, a sophomore from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was the chairperson for the social/cultural committee; Shahram Paksima, a senior from San Diego, Calif., was the vice chair of the Political affairs committee; Camie Preston, a junior from Vacaville, Calif., was the repretrar of the political affairs committee.
Three best delegate awards were given to Wess Robertson, security affairs committee; Shahram Paksima, political affairs committee; and Grant Wahlquist, economic affairs committee.
The best delegation is given to the group with the most awards, most positions and determined by faculty observations.
Students took a one credit course to help them understand the Syrian government, politics, international relations, geography, parliamentary procedure and to think like Syrians before going to Denver.
“We needed to prepare them before they threw themselves into the role as Syrians for two and a half days,” said Bowen. “They needed to see things from the point of a particular country.”
Preparing for and participating in the model was a way for students to go beyond the books, according to Richey. “We learned a lot about parliamentary procedure,” he said.
The resolutions the group passed in their committees will be forwarded to the real Arab League for review and will possibly be passed.
The model, sponsored by the Council for U.S. Arab Organization based in Washington D.C., was created in hopes of promoting Arab-American relations and create an understanding of Arab issues.
“There are a lot of misconceptions about Arab-Americans,” Paksima said. “Things like the model can help people understand Arab-Americans a little better.”
The model held in Denver is one of 10 models held around the country for various regions. A national competition is held in Washington D.C at the end of April.
Other students who participated in the model include: Eduardo Guadarrama, Scott Hansen, Ralph Hinkson, Harunori Miyagi, Sara Ogden, Makaria Reynolds, Wess Robertson and Grant Wahlquist. Chad Emmett, professor of geography, went with the students when Bowen was unable to go.