By Dr. Joe P. Dunn
Chair of the Converse History and Politics Department
Charles A. Dana Professor of History and Politics
When Hoor Hawamdeh, a teacher at the Modern Montessori High School in Amman, Jordan, read about the Model Arab League on the Internet, she decided to start one at her school. Having participated in Model United Nations, her students had some experience in this type of activity. She contacted the sponsoring organization, the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations, for assistance, particularly in developing student leaders to run the model. Program director Scott McIntosh referred her to Dr. Joe Dunn at Converse College. For almost a decade Converse has fielded the premier Model League program in the nation, and as Scott explained, “The school annually produces the best chairs in the entire program.”
Hoor offered Converse two expense-paid trips to demonstrate how to run a Model and to train potential Model Leaguers. Casey Addis ’04 and Josie Fingerhut ’05 traveled to Amman in late May to fulfill the request. Two better-qualified individuals would have been difficult to find. Casey, who graduated just days before the trip, was the 2004 Converse head delegate and recipient of the Converse Model League Award. One of the best debaters in the country, she received Outstanding Delegate Awards in virtually every competition during her four years. Josie, the 2005 head delegate, is an award-winning chair and the Secretary-General designate for the 2005 National Model. Casey had abundant experience in the region. She had studied Arabic for two summers in Morocco and was a participant on the inaugural Arab League Exchange visit to Cairo in 2003. Josie had never been out of the country, but she has been selected for the Kuwait Studies travel/study program in Fall 2004.
Casey and Josie found the experience exceptional. The students from the International Baccalaureate program at the English-language Montessori school were incredibly bright and eager. The two Converse trainers provided extensive briefings on the rules and procedures of a Model and demonstrated how to conduct research and effectively debate, question, and caucus. Josie focused on the mechanics of chairing a committee. The group then simulated a session of the Social Affairs Committee. The Converse students were extremely pleased with the results.
During their week in Jordan, Casey and Josie spent time with the students in classes at the Montessori School and the Christian Montessori Middle School where Hoor also teaches. They were guests at numerous social events, including dinners at the home of Hoor’s family. Hoor’s father, Mahmud Taha, is a world-class ceramist whose creations are displayed in five-star hotels in Jordan and throughout the Arab world. King Hussein presented one of Taha’s pieces to President Jimmy Carter and it hung in the White House. Taha’s personal collection of art in the home was phenomenal and his own work is stunning. Hoor also took the two students for a day-long outing at the Dead Sea.
Having met Queen Noor in Spartanburg in March, Casey and Josie contacted the Queen Noor Foundation to inquire further about its work. The director invited them to visit a number of the foundation’s projects for women in northern Jordan. Casey reported that this was the best day of the trip. Everywhere he introduced them as guests of t