While their efforts may not have led to peace in the Middle East, UCSB students were recently recognized for playing out just such a scenario at the West Coast Model Arab League conference.
Fashioned after the United Nations, the Model Arab League simulates a U.S.-Arab relations policymaking meeting. This year, UCSB represented Iraq, one of the 22 countries included in this year's conference. Twelve UCSB students, led by history graduate student David Reeves and Middle East and global studies graduate student Eddie Saade, participated in the West Coast regionals at Mills College in Oakland April 13 to 15, taking home an honorable mention for Most Honorable Delegation.
The National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations (NCUSAR) started the conference in 1983 at Georgetown University with 20 schools.
Delegates from UCSB were chosen based on their performance in Professor Juan Campo's Middle East Studies 145 class. According to third-year political science and religious studies major Veronica Beebe, the lectures served as preparation for the actual event.
"We tried to meet once a week leading up to regionals," said Beebe, the UCSB head delegate. "Classes were three hours long on Wednesday nights, and we met as if we were actually in session at the Model Arab League."
This year, delegations were split into five separate councils, including the Joint Defense Council, the Council on Palestinian Affairs, the Council of Arab Social Affairs Ministers, the Council on Political Affairs and the Council of Arab Environmental Affairs Ministers. Two students from each delegation participated in each of the councils, presenting resolutions on issues in their separate areas of expertise.
Resolutions were passed in every council; the Council of Arab Social Affairs passes three. These resolutions receive the honor of passing to the NCUSAR for consideration in their official meetings.
According to fourth-year global studies and Middle East studies major Giselle Kasim, the league is multiethnic and not limited to students with Middle Eastern roots.
"People who are in the Model Arab League are not all of Arab descent," said Kasim. "So it's people from diverse backgrounds."
Beebe said interacting with students from different schools to discuss such pertinent issues was an enlightening experience. She said she was optimistic about UCSB's future chances at the conference.
"Next year we're going to Nationals," Beebe said.
Reeves said he enjoyed watching the students he has tutored excel at the meeting.
"The conference can be very stressful, and by its nature, political," Reeves said. "Watching the students do their thing at a high level, well, it makes me fell all warm and fuzzy inside."