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DATE: March 7, 2003

Students stand out at Model Arab League meeting

DEARBORN---UM-Dearborn sent two five-person student delegations to Grand Rapids last month to participate in the three-day Model League of Arab States, a nation-wide program hosted by numerous universities, colleges, and high schools which allows students to develop their writing, editing, debating, critical thinking, public speaking, leadership and interpersonal skills.

Acting as representatives of member states, student delegates attempt to solve problems and achieve consensus on questions that diplomats wrestle with daily.

UM-Dearborn's student delegations represented Syria and Iraq.

The interactive nature of the role-playing involved stimulates creativity, deepens learning, and cultivates understanding in ways classroom study cannot, according to political science professor Ron Stockton, who advised the group.

The event was organized around five committees--national security, internal security, Palestine affairs, social affairs, and environmental affairs--with one student specializing in each committee area.

Students learned the politics and concerns of their country, researched the specialty area of their committee, learned parliamentary procedure, and prepared at least two resolutions that their country would want to see passed.

"The committee experience involved negotiating with other delegates to get those resolutions passed," Stockton said. "All activities had to be 'in character,' that is, faithful to the perspective of their government regardless of their own views."

The students attended five two-hour training sessions, organized supplementary meetings on their own and conducted an ongoing e-mail discussion group about their resolutions.

The UM-Dearborn students won three outstanding delegate awards, one outstanding delegate runner-up award, and one of two outstanding delegation awards (Syria). This is the second year in a row that the group won the outstanding delegation award.

The individual winners were Michael Robbins of Trenton, environmental affairs committee outstanding delegate; Wafa Sayed of Dearborn Heights, defense committee outstanding delegate runner-up; Mohammed Safi of Ann Arbor, Palestine affairs outstanding delegate; and Sara Gojanaj of Clinton Twp., internal security outstanding delegate.

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