Model Arab League attends conference

Juniors Baylen Altizer (left) and Devon Allowitz (right) discuss the issues surrounding their country, Somalia. Alter and Allowitz, who were on the Environmental Affairs Council, proposed a resolution that was passed by the council.
Juniors Baylen Altizer (left) and Devon Allowitz (right) discuss the issues surrounding their country, Somalia. Alter and Allowitz, who were on the Environmental Affairs Council, proposed a resolution that was passed by the council.

On Jan. 21 and 22, 22 Decatur students traveled to the Marist School in Atlanta to participate in the annual Model Arab League conference. There, students represented the countries Somalia and Jordan to debate and discuss real international challenges facing the entire Arab region with other high school students.

According to their website, the Model Arab League is a program in which students develop leadership skills while “grappling with the international challenges of representing the needs, concerns, interests, and foreign policy objectives of a government other than their own.”

Each school is designated one to two countries to represent, and its students act as delegates from their respective countries at the conference. Pairs of delegates serve on various committees, such as the Joint Defense Council or Political Affairs Council. The delegates also debate the issues of the council, hoping to pass resolutions that plan for or solve such issues.

Senior Sam Carlson, who represented Jordan in the Joint Defense Council, thinks that Model Arab League is an exciting way to prepare for his future.

“I definitely want to be involved in politics and international affairs in college and beyond, so this was a great opportunity,” Carlson said. “The conversations were really stimulating, especially when we talked about hot-button topics, like terrorism.”

Each of the students who participated have studied Arabic culture through the IB World History class. Although the conference was not an official part of the class, junior Devon Allowitz, who represented Somalia in the Environmental Affairs Council, believes that the conference was easier because of what he’s learned.

“The two kind of went hand-in-hand,” Allowitz said. “I had a lot of prior knowledge going in, so I was able to actually talk about current events and history related to my country.”

The students from each school gathered in different classrooms for each council. Acting as delegates from each country, the students debated the various options for tackling issues such as terrorism and political affairs.
The students from each school gathered in different classrooms for each council. Acting as delegates from each country, the students debated the various options for tackling issues such as terrorism and political affairs.

Although the conference spanned both Thursday and Friday, the school cancelled the field trip on the second day due to inclement weather. Many students didn’t let this stop them, though. 11 students travelled independently – many carpooling after receiving permission from the administration – in order to make it to the event.

Carlson, one of the students who drove to the conference, said the experience was “definitely worth the risk of driving, even in the rain and sleet.”

“We worked really hard on our resolution and plan, so I was determined to go,” Carlson said. “After I heard it was going to be cancelled, I decided to just go rogue. Apparently, a lot of kids from other schools did it, too, so I was glad I did.”