GV hosts Michigan Model Arab League


GVL / Meghan Landgren

Jamie Wilson, Staff Writer

This year the Michigan Model Arab League took place at the Eberhard Center on Grand Valley State University’s Pew campus in Grand Rapids. 

It was GVSU’s 25th anniversary hosting the conference, which took place from Feb. 17-19.

Organized by Majd Al-Mallah, GVSU professor and coordinator for GVSU’s Arabic and Middle East studies programs, the Michigan Model Arab League is a regional conference that draws students from across the state.

The conference typically consists of GVSU, Aquinas College, the University of Michigan Dearborn, Grand Rapids Community College and other schools throughout the Midwest. 

“The Arab League is a very old organization,” Al-Mallah said. “It was actually established before the United Nations. It’s an organization that started by fostering collaboration among Arab countries and grew into the big international organization that operates today.” 

During the conference, students each represent a specific country from the actual Arab League and are tasked with playing the role of diplomats. The students discuss topics such as joint defense, political and Palestinian issues and social issues within group committees. They work to create solutions for these issues. 

The agenda is written before the conference, giving students time to prepare. When students arrive at the conference, they can petition to add topics they feel should be discussed. Topics include security, education and public health. 

“The goal is to offer an educational opportunity for students to learn about the Arab world by having them generate their own topics and issues currently happening in the Arab world,” Al-Mallah said. 

Kyla Ozinga, a GVSU student who was the Head Delegate for Jordan at the conference, won the Outstanding Delegate Award for the Joint Defense Council and the Overall Outstanding Delegation for Jordan in conjunction with another student.

Ozinga said her favorite part of the conference was the passionate debate.

“The atmosphere and immersion in the event was something that I thrived off of as someone who loves politics,” Ozinga said. “The fact that everyone else there had relatively the same attitude and dedication to the Model made it a wonderful experience.”

Al-Mallah said this blend of collaboration and quick thinking is what makes the conference so special. 

“The League is the essence of active learning and experiential learning because students can’t just memorize a bunch of information, they have to learn and understand the topics and then collaborate with others to find a solution,” Al-Mallah said. 

The conference was open to students of all majors, as Al-Mallah said it could benefit any student interested and willing to put in the necessary effort to succeed. 

“Some students are interested in diplomatic work, but the class is not only for those interested in these fields,” Al-Mallah said. “The life skills students develop in this course far exceeds any particular career path. Anyone can do the Model, learn a lot, benefit from it and thrive as a result. This is in addition to learning about the Middle East which is very important in itself.”

Al-Mallah said there’s also a national Model League that will take place in Washington D.C. and that a delegation of students will be representing GVSU this year.