Two Mount Mary University students earned awards while attending the Upper Midwest Model Arab League this past November. Michelle Hawkins, no stranger to the Model Arab League, won the Outstanding Delegate Award and Amanda Fahrendorf, a newcomer, won the Distinguished Delegate Award.
Similar to the more commonly known Model United Nations program, the Upper Midwest Model Arab League is a leadership development program organized by the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations, that took place Nov. 4 to 6 at the University of North Dakota.
According to Hawkins, both awards are voted on by fellow council members. The Outstanding Delegate Award is equivalent to first place and the Distinguished Delegate Award is the second place prize.
“Amanda and I received our awards for really helping to create effective resolutions and working with our council members,” Hawkins said.
“I was very surprised when I received this honor as it was my first time participating in the Model Arab League, and I thought there were other students way more qualified than I was.” Fahrendorf said.
Both students represented Morocco, along with another student from Eau Claire, but worked on different councils. Hawkins worked on the political affairs council while Fahrendorf worked on the social affairs committee.
“Political affairs is really kind of all encompassing,” Hawkins said. “Some of the topics we worked on were responding to the Iran nuclear deal, diplomatically resolving the conflict in Syria and respecting the rights of religious minorities.”
Both students really enjoyed the experience.
“I enjoyed challenging myself in a continuous process by putting myself in the shoes of the country Morocco, coming up with new arguments against policies I disagreed with and strategizing how to make allies among the other Arab Nations,” Fahrendorf said.
“I really enjoy it because I enjoy learning about the Middle East, and I really want to work there in the future,” Hawkins said. “It’s a unique opportunity to learn about these country’s foreign policies, not from the standpoint of the U.S. foreign policy but from their own foreign policy. And looking at how they interact with their neighboring states. These programs really allow for an expanded knowledge of negotiation skills and collaboration and communication skills. It also gives a really good look at how foreign policy and diplomatic relations actually work.”