Global Studies Students Learn by Participating in Model Arab League Event

February 20, 2017

Seven Saint Leo University undergraduates enrolled in the Global Studies Program immersed themselves in Mideast issues over the past few months for serious role-playing assignments in the 2017 Florida Regional Model Arab League, held recently in Tampa.

The Model Arab League functions much like another well-known immersive academic program, the Model United Nations. The Model Arab League is a program of an educational nonprofit organization, the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations, which works to foster more understanding of the Arab world among rising generations of policymakers and diplomats.

In this program, student teams from participating high schools, colleges, and universities are given the responsibility of representing a particular nation or coalition in an international forum. Individual members of school teams sit on specific councils, such as joint defense or economic affairs, where they represent the interests of their country.

“The Model Arab League is a great opportunity for our global studies majors to gain some familiarity with international affairs, focusing on a region that is crucial to so many aspects of world issues: energy, terrorism, migration, human rights, climate change, and more,” said the team’s advisor, Dr. Patricia Campion, associate professor of global studies and sociology.

And the Saint Leo teams have drawn high-profile country assignments the last two years, Dr. Campion added.

“Our team represented the Syrian National Coalition last year, and Iraq this year. We have discussed the conflicts in Iraq and Syria and the rise of ISIS in some of the global studies classes, and several students are very interested in these conflicts. They met regularly last semester and up to the competition to prepare, researching their country and becoming proficient with meeting procedures. Both years, the students were energized by their experience. They loved interacting with students from other schools and participating in the debates. They feel very passionately about defending their country’s position and strive to stay in character throughout the procedures. The meeting this year was barely over and they were already planning for next year.”

One of the students who participated in both 2016 and 2017, senior Shelby Grosvenor (pictured), won an award for her representation of Iraq on the league’s Council on Environmental Affairs. The council was a new addition to the format this year.

Shelby -Grosvenor

Another Saint Leo senior who took on many responsibilities for the 2017 Model Arab League, Estefania Quintero (pictured on the right, with teammate Natalia Garcia at left), so impressed the team from the University of South Florida that she received an invitation from the USF team to work with them on an upcoming event. She accepted and, pending funding, will travel with the group to New York in April for a National Model United Nations conference.

Dr. Campion also noted that Saint Leo student team members benefit from getting to know one another and learning about one another’s career interests and personal travels, as global studies is such a versatile major. Estefania Quintero is from Venezuela, for instance, and at Saint Leo has combined a marketing minor with her global studies major. Shelby Grosvenor is from Florida, and while at Saint Leo has studied abroad in Barcelona, Spain, where she completed her internship with a local startup offering financial services. Her economics minor, combined with her major, helped her understand the issues she represented at the Model Arab League. Last year, she was recognized for her representation on the Economic Affairs Council.

Jeffery Sable Wilson is in the Florida Army National Guard and completed a summer internship in France last year. He is preparing to spend a semester in Morocco, to pursue a growing interest in refugees and migration from North Africa and the Middle East. Another returning student on the team, and president of the Global Studies Club, Grace Lederer, is from New Jersey and completing a double major in economics. She interned in Costa Rica at an agricultural research center in 2015, after participating in a study trip on sustainability in 2014. Both Jeffery Wilson and Grace Lederer were recognized as Distinguished Delegates at last year’s MAL conference.

Garcia -left _Estefania -Quintero -right

Rounding out the team were underclass majors LeAnn Winslow from Ohio, Mirna Candé from Haiti, and Natalia Garcia from Colombia. Dr. Campion said she hopes to have more students join these three on the team for 2018. “We are planning to recruit more broadly on University Campus next fall so that we can represent more than one country,” she said.