By Gerard Flanagan, news writer/photographer/social media, Office of University Communications
CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. – Delegates from several Middle Eastern and Northern Africa countries came together recently to hash out decisions on political affairs, poverty, unemployment and a host of other pressing issues Feb. 18-19 at Shawnee State University in Portsmouth, Ohio.
No, it wasn’t real life, but the Model Arab League—a simulation of the real-life Arab League—provided four Campbellsville University students insight into the nature of international diplomacy.
The Arab League is a regional organization of Arab states in the Middle East and parts of Africa that was formed in 1945.
Landon Cambron, a sophomore from Lebanon, Ky.; Carley O’Neill, a senior from Mt. Washington, Ky.; Milan Bailey, a senior from Louisville, Ky; and Alyssa Wathen, a senior from Springfield, Ky., represented the university at the Ohio Valley Model Arab League Conference.
All four students are majoring in political science.
“Students from different schools meet to represent different countries from the North Africa/Middle East region,” Dr. Josiah Marineau, associate professor of political science, said.
At the conference, Campbellsville University’s students represented Saudi Arabia. In total, 43 students from eight universities participated.
Students participating in the conference served on councils. Those councils at the Ohio Valley Model Arab League were the Joint Defense Council, Political Affairs Council and the Special Council on Poverty and Unemployment.
“The students prepared for the conference by studying the country we represented (Saudi Arabia), researching its policy positions on the various issues that each council was addressing, and then practicing parliamentary procedures that the conference uses,” Marineau said.
The goal of the conference is to pass resolutions that address regional problems, he said.
“The trick is that different countries might have difference preferences on how to resolve those problems, and therefore students try to pass resolutions that reflect their country’s priorities,” Marineau said.
Bailey, who served as chair of the Joint Defense Council, received an Outstanding Chair Award at the conference.
“Being able to serve as a council chair this year helped me to sharpen my leadership skills as well as simulate diplomatic relations with other people,” Bailey said. “The Model Arab League enhanced my perspective on world issues and global politics by helping me to understand the challenges of global governance.”
Cambron, who served on the Joint Defense Council, and Wathen, who served on the Special Council on Poverty and Unemployment, received Most Honorable Delegate Awards. The entire Campbellsville University delegation received a Most Outstanding Delegation Award.
“Participating in the Model Arab League and the research before allowed me and other students to learn more about the difficulty of global governance and how ineffective international organizations can be at enacting and enforcing substantive policy,” Cambron said.
“Overall, I would say that participation in the Model Arab League was a great way to learn more about world issues and global politics, with a special focus on how these two things are handled in the Middle East.”
Wathen said the issues facing the Model Arab League were complex and intertwined.
“The challenges faced in international politics are deeply intersectional, and solutions to one problem can exacerbate or even create new problems,” she said.
“The participation in Model Arab League exemplified how these problems and conflicts of interest play out in the political sphere and made me realize, in a way I don’t think I would have understood without the experience, how difficult and nuanced these issues can be to address.”
O’Neill said her participation in the Model Arab League showed her how difficult making decisions on the international level can be.
“As easy as it is for us to think ‘well why don’t we just do this,’ it is difficult having to work with other nations with different interests in order to be able to take actions,” she said. “Overall, it was eye-opening to see how worldwide decision-making works, and how difficult it may be for different countries to take action.”
Bailey, Cambron and O’Neill will represent Campbellsville University in the National Model Arab League Conference March 24-27 in Washington, D.C.
Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university that has enrolled up to 12,000 students yearly. The university offers over 100 programs of study including doctoral, masters, bachelors, associate and certification programs. The website for complete information is www.campbellsville.edu.