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Students practice diplomacy in Model Arab League

Student Success Mar 11, 2024
Ben Waskom
IU Hamilton Lugar School student Ben Waskom represents Morocco in the Model Arab League Ohio Valley Regional Conference in February 2024

IU and Hamilton Lugar School students gained diplomatic experience representing Arab League countries through the 2024 Model Arab League Ohio Valley Regional Conference held at Indiana University, February 15-17. More than 60 students from eight regional colleges and universities represented 11 countries in the diplomatic simulation.

“Model Arab League was amazing!” said Hamilton Lugar student Mackenzie Durbin, who is majoring in International Law and Institutions and Middle Eastern Languages & Cultures. “It’s nice that even first-time delegates begin to understand and develop skills needed to participate in diplomacy all while making friends along the way.”

The conference began with opening remarks from His Excellency, Ambassador Maged Abdelaziz, Permanent Observer of the League of Arab States to the United Nations, and IU Professor Feisal Amin Rasoul al-Istrabadi, former Deputy Permanent Representative of Iraq to the United Nations. The ambassadors answered student questions and spoke about their own diplomatic experiences and time working together over the years.

“As a delegate for the Arab League, I can’t imagine how Abdelaziz is able to represent so many countries’ diverse points of views, even those who might have bitter disagreements,” said Hamilton Lugar School first year student Ben Waskom. “It was interesting to hear him speak so candidly and personally.”

17 Indiana University students participated in the conference, hosted by the Hamilton Lugar School’s Center for the Study of the Middle East:

Muhammad S.Abdo
Zainab Al-Robaee
Omar Albaze
Ahmad Alsarhan
Natalie Carlson
Zoe Catlin
Andrew Davis
Mackenzie Durbin
Ayman Elbarbary
Ahmed Elbasyouny
Hayleigh Keasling
Shraddha Krishnan
Patrick Lee
Laila Morris
Chaimaa Moukhtar
Benjamin Waskom
Eden Zaborowski

“Students who participate gain a significant amount of knowledge about current issues facing the Middle East and North Africa,” said Carl Pearson, associate director of the Center for the Study of the Middle East. “Councils are conducted using parliamentary procedure, so students learn to use formal diplomatic tools to work with other delegations to design resolutions and argue for their appeal across the Arab world. They also develop confidence in public speaking and significantly improve their understanding of how real-world diplomacy works.”

Model Arab League at IU 2024

Hamilton Lugar senior Patrick Lee represented the Kingdom of Morocco on the Council of Social Affairs.

“As a representative, we discussed a range of issues, including the implementation of AI and technology to improve accessibility in the healthcare sector within the MENA region, and promoting global Arabic Studies programs to encourage diplomacy,” he said.

Lee, who is majoring in International Law and studying Arabic, said that even with a background in these fields, he learned a lot.

“Model Arab League is a fascinating challenge because you are given a blank canvas to create a resolution on any subfield within the given topic but have to work within the constraints of parliamentary procedure and technical legal language, which at times are very inaccessible,” he said. “This dilemma does not go away in the real-world institutions which these programs are modeled from, and I felt this conference was an excellent opportunity to craft my approach to these issues.”

Lee said he was honored to receive a Distinguished Delegation award, which he credits to his knowledge of Arab League countries and international law.

Hamilton Lugar School senior Hayleigh Keasling served as the chair of the Arab Social Affairs Council, bringing her experience as Secretary-General of the Indiana Model United Nations.

“I was able to use my knowledge of parliamentary procedure acquired from Model United Nations in order to facilitate this committee,” said Keasling, who is double majoring in International Studies and Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures. “This is such an important activity for anyone interested in international affairs and Middle Eastern politics, as it allows the delegates to step into the shoes of Arab diplomats and consider perspectives and motivations they may never have considered.”

Waskom, who is majoring in International Law and Institutions, said that beyond Model Arab League, he has learned so much from Professor Istrabadi.

“It’s fun being able to actively participate in class, and hear Professor Istrabadi’s first-hand experiences dealing with international law and experiences within the United Nations,” said Waskom. “They’re really inspiring stories. Professor Istrabadi tries to avoid giving his personal opinion. He wants people to develop their own opinions. The only thing he cares about is, ‘How did you get to that opinion? What logic did you use, making sure that you were thinking rationally and reasonably?’”

Students emphasized that the conference allowed them to connect with many like-minded students.

“It was great getting to know students from other universities and learn more about them and their interests throughout the duration of the conference,” said Keasling. “I was very impressed with the passion of all delegates in attendance and their dedication to solving the issues under the committee’s purview. I’d like to congratulate the Center for the Study of the Middle East and the rest of the Ohio Valley Model Arab League team on a successful conference.”

IU students will participate in the National University Model Arab League conference in Washington, D.C. on March 21-24. They will represent Qatar at the national competition.

Students interested in representing IU in the 2025 Model Arab League Regional Conference can learn more by contacting the Center for the Study of the Middle East.


Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies

Sarah DeWeese

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