Engaged in an opportunity to hone public speaking and diplomacy skills, OBU students competed in the annual Southwest Regional Model Arab League simulation at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock March 8-10.
The OBU team included Chad Ward, a senior from Cleveland, Okla.; Ethan Groff, a senior from Henryetta, Okla.; Kirsten Thompson, a junior from Grandbury, Texas; Brad Batchelor, a senior from Wichita Falls, Texas; Brodie Bolen, a junior from Burkburnett, Texas; and Amber Butler, a senior from Katy, Texas.
The OBU group represented Iraq in this year's competition. Ward participated in the economic council and received an Outstanding Delegate award. Groff received an honorable mention for chairing the joint defense council. Thompson also received an honorable mention for participating in the joint defense council. These students were among the top five delegates in their councils.
Bison Hill students have participated in the simulation for more than 20 years. The students competed against 15 other Model Arab League programs from other universities. To prepare for the simulation, students reviewed information about the region and drafted resolutions for the various committees.
Groff has participated in the simulation for three years, twice as a delegate and part of the OBU team, and this year as a council chair. His duties included moderating discussion and presiding over debates by enforcing the rules of parliamentary procedure.
"I enjoy Model Arab League because of its free-form collaborative atmosphere, serious but not somber tone, and its teaching power in the area of leadership," Groff explained. "For most students the substantive focus on the Middle East becomes secondary to the experience of learning practically how to work with people."
Dr. Glenn Sanders, OBU professor of history and chair of the Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences, serves as the faculty sponsor of OBU's Model Arab League.
"[The students] all represented the university very well," Sanders said. "They took their preparation and participation seriously and showed off the high quality of the OBU community."
The Model Arab League is a leadership program designed to help students learn to think quickly as they pose as Arab diplomats struggling through the world's problems and trying to reach a policy consensus. Students receive a drafted agenda which becomes the basis of their research for a two-page policy statement. The statements are discussed with their fellow committee members.
The simulation is part of the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations. According to the council's website, the council was founded in 1983 as "an American non-profit, non-governmental, educational organization dedicated to improving American knowledge and understanding of the Arab world."