A group of 15 University of Arkansas at Little Rock and Clinton School of Public Service students who attended the International Model Arab League in Morocco brought home several awards for their diplomatic efforts.
The Model Arab League is a student leadership development program created by the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations. It is a simulation of an international organization, the League of Arab States, which represents 22 countries. The conference was held Nov. 9-13 at the Université International de Rabat, where UALR students acted as representatives of Somalia, Iraq, and Qatar.
Among the award winners were Zach Glembin, distinguished delegate for the Environmental Committee; Nora Bouzihay, outstanding delegate for Social Affairs Committee, and Joseph Jones, outstanding delegate for the Joint Defense Council.
Several students also received honorable mentions for their work, including Brian Gregory, honorable mention for Social Affairs Committee; Miguel Lopez, honorable mention for Joint Defense Council; and Brittany Kirtley, honorable mention for Environmental Committee.
“The students discussed all kinds of important issues in their committees from refugees to water scarcity to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” said Dr. Rebecca Glazier, director of the UALR Model Arab League and associate professor of political science, who led the trip. “They proposed thoughtfully researched and sometimes creative solutions and passed resolutions that had the support of the majority of their committee.”
The students spent three days exploring Morocco, including riding camels and camping in the Sahara Desert.
Gregory, a political science major who has been involved in Model Arab League for seven years, called the trip a highlight of his life.
“Getting to interact with the students in Morocco, talking about how they live their lives, playing soccer and basketball with them, and then going to the desert and riding a camel and worrying if you will fall off the camel when it walks up a sand dune was a rush,” Gregory said.
Amelia Loken, a senior studying interpretation for the deaf, was glad to have the opportunity to study abroad. As a nontraditional student with five sons, Loken cannot participate in study abroad trips that take weeks or months. But she was thankful for the trip to Morocco that proved to be unforgettable.
“One of the things I treasure the most is when we went out in the desert,” Loken said. “The beauty of the desert was amazing. I went to the top of the dune to see the sunrise. Being able to see this wide expansive sky that was bigger than anything I had ever seen was a spiritual experience. This is an opportunity I never thought would come my way.”
Thanks to support from the UALRMiddle Eastern Studies program and the Université International de Rabat, each student only paid $700 for the trip, including flights, meals, accommodations, transportation, conference fees, and activities.