The Montana State University Model Arab League debate team scored multiple awards in its best showing ever at the group's annual national competition held April 11-14 at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. MSU competed against teams from 23 universities, ranging from West Point to Northeastern and Northwestern universities.
Team captain and head delegate Shannon Collaer, a sophomore from Idaho Falls, Idaho, majoring in history and religious studies, was selected as chairperson for the Palestine Committee on the national Secretariat for 2014, a coveted position.
MSU won awards for competition in the areas of social affairs, economic affairs, defense, Palestinian affairs, as well as a team honorary mention, or runner-up for its overall representation of Palestine.
"I joined MAL with two goals in mind: to learn more about the Middle East and become better at public speaking," said Devon Norden, a senior from Havre majoring in political science and international relations. Norden, who also competed with the MSU MAL team last year, served as a justice for the Arab Court of Justice. "Now, I am leaving the program with an extensive knowledge of Middle Eastern politics along with the ability to effectively debate at a national level. These skills are ones that I will take with me for the rest of my life and, because of that, MAL is an experience I will never forget."
The Model Arab League is a diplomatic simulation based on the real-world, 22-member Arab League based in Cairo. Similar in many respects to Model United Nations competitions held throughout the U.S., MAL delegates intensively study all aspects of their respective countries, and are then divided into a variety of core delegations.
"You will learn more about the culture, mannerisms, language, politics, and regional breakdown of the Middle East in this program than any other three to four classes combined," said Rob Ricketts, a junior in political science major from Polson.
Nicholas Vergara, a freshman from Chile with dual interests in paleontology and economics who served on the economics committee, was declared the new Palestinian Prime Minister-designate when the real-life Palestinian prime minister resigned and was replaced by the chief economics expert in the real-life Palestine.
While in Washington, the MSU delegation visited the embassy of the Palestine Authority to interview the ambassador about nuances of policy, received a briefing from Sen. Jon Tester's staff and visited the office of new U.S. Rep. Steve Daines.
Elin Suleymanov, the ambassador of the Republic of Azerbaijan, hosted a reception for MSU at the US-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce townhouse in Georgetown.
The MSU team of 15 students ranged from freshmen to seniors drawn from a number of departments, with the majority associated with the Department of Political Science, where the class is based. The team is advised by Thomas Goltz, who has taken the MSU team to the national competition for three years in a row.
"The competition was intense and the level of competence evinced by the other schools exceptionally high. President Waded Cruzado has every right to be exceptionally proud of her MSU team," Goltz said.
Thomas Goltz, firstname.lastname@example.org