Participants in the Model Arab League program at Converse College just keep on winning and winning and winning. During the national competition, held April 3-6 in Washington, D.C., the Converse Palestine delegation garnered Outstanding Delegation honors, making the sixth consecutive year a Converse delegation has won the big prize. Students from colleges and universities across the nation participate in the competition each year, forming delegations representing Arabic nations and taking part in parliamentary style debates.
Of the 20 schools that participated, only Converse was willing to field delegations from more than one country. “The week before we left for Washington,” says Valerie Brock ’03, “we agreed to field a delegation for the Comoros Islands, meaning that with Palestine and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Converse students were responsible for representing three countries.”
Even more amazing is the fact that the Comoros Islands delegation was led by Converse freshmen. “Most of the freshmen were going to partner with committee members from the UAE delegation, but we (the freshmen) were fairly confident we could handle it,” said Lindsey Blunt ’05.
The trip to Washington included a personal audience with a representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), and a briefing at the Center of Policy Analysis on Palestine. “These meetings really gave us a flavor for the debates,” said Katie Landon ’02. “Our team spent a great deal of time in classrooms preparing for the competition, but meeting with the actual Palestinian representatives humanized the issues for us.”
In a break from competition tradition, committee chairs were appointed after an application and interview process rather than elected as in the past. Converse’s Melanie Brown ’03, Anna Millikan ’02, and Erin Poston ’04 were selected as chairs. Maria Perry ’03 served as Secretary General. In 2003, Valerie, Erin, Melanie, and Josie Fingerhut ’05 will serve as chairs, giving Converse four of the seven available chair positions.
“With the departure of our seniors, we are losing some of the strongest debaters this year,” said Maria Perry ’03. “But the returning group is very strong and have proven themselves in competition.”