Proving that the number 13 does not necessarily translate into bad fortune, the Converse College team earned its 13th straight Outstanding Delegation award at the National Model Arab League conference held last weekend (March 28-30) in Washington, D.C. Additionally, two Converse seniors were interviewed by the al-Jazeera television network.
Regarding the team’s 13th straight victory, faculty advisor Dr. Joe P. Dunn said “We don’t believe in luck. We believe in challenge, preparation, skill and determination.”
Runners up for the top spot were the U.S. Military Academy, Northeastern University, Kennesaw State and the University of California at Santa Barbara. Other prominent participating institutions included the University of California at Berkeley, University of Utah, University of Arkansas, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, George Mason University, U.S. Air Force Academy and the American University of Cairo.
During the conference, student delegations represent Arab League member countries, and win awards in their respective committees based upon their knowledge of their country’s positions and their argumentation, negotiation and consensus-building talents. In preparing for each event, students commit to extensive hours researching the various issues and writing draft resolutions.
Among the significant victories at the national conference was Spartanburg, South Carolina sophomore Katelyn Ridenour and Chelsey Boggs, a junior from Blythewood, South Carolina, defeating the U.S. Military Academy as opponents in their case before the Arab Court of Justice. Ridenour and Boggs won an award as Outstanding Advocates for representing al-Jazeera suing Iraq over closing the Baghdad office in 2004.
Converse chaired three of the seven committees, and former Converse Model Programs participant Holly Jordan (Class of 2006), a former Chief Justice and now a graduate student at the University of Georgia, was the National Council of U.S.-Relations consultant and judge for the Arab Court of Justice. Sarah Walters, a senior from Midlothian, Virginia, was selected as the Honorable Mention Outstanding Chair for her work in the Political Committee. Converse seniors Megan Madison of Chester, Virginia (Special Summit of Arab Heads of State) and Mahal Woldetsadik of Ethiopia (Palestinian Affairs) received exceptional commendations from the faculty for their work. The three Converse chairs finished two, three and four in the voting for Outstanding Chair and split votes among themselves that prevented any one of them from earning the award outright.
Walters and fellow senior Nora Nassri of Orangeburg, South Carolina were also selected as two of the three participants (the other from the American University of Cairo) to give lengthy interviews to al-Jazeera for the television network’s “min America” (“From America”) program due to air April 7th at 3 p.m. Eastern Time. Nassri’s interview was conducted entirely in Arabic.
Sophomore Anna Owens of Sumter, South Carolina was selected to serve as Assistant Secretary-General for the 2009 National Model. Chelsey Boggs was named the Chief Justice of the Arab Court of Justice.
After the conference, Dunn reflected upon a sense of frustration seemingly felt by the delegations of other colleges at seeing Converse continue such a lengthy winning streak. “Every year this event is more exhausting. If you think that the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill feels pressure in the NCAA basketball tournament, try sitting in the room when the awards are announced and knowing, actually feeling the pulse, that the whole room is waiting to explode in cheers if Converse is not named the Outstanding Delegation