A 14-student delegation represented Hollins University at the three-day National University Model Arab League (NUMAL) Conference in Washington, D.C., including the winner of the event’s highest award.
The National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations (NCUSAR) welcomed 22 colleges and universities to the 2022 conference, which was held March 24-27. The goal of the NUMAL Conference is to simulate the diplomacy and decision making of the Arab League, an alliance of more than 20 Arab countries formed in 1945 to promote economic, political, cultural, and scientific cooperation as well as independence and sovereignty among its member nations.
Bianca Vallebrignoni ’23, president of the Model UN/Model Arab League club at Hollins, coordinated the delegation’s trip to the conference with the support and attendance of Assistant Professor of Political Science Courtney Chenette and John P. Wheeler Professor of Political Science Edward Lynch, the club’s faculty advisors. All students who participated in the conference successfully applied for grants from the Warren W. Hobbie Ethics and Service Endowment, whose purpose is to facilitate experiential or service learning opportunities that require students to confront values or ethical issues.
Mollie Davis ’22 was named the conference’s Outstanding Delegate, the top honor bestowed by NCUSAR. Davis was recognized for her representation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on the Joint Defense Council. The senior called her four years on the Hollins Model UN/Model Arab League team “the biggest opportunity I’ve had to push back against what society expects of people who stutter, and I’m grateful for that.” Motivated to make space for all advocates, Davis further reflected that her success “had an impact on more than just myself.”
“Model conferences deepen students’ understanding of diversity within the Arab world through research,” noted Chenette, “but also strengthen and amplify the voices of diverse leaders through debate.”
Hollins delegates served in critical roles at every level of conference planning and execution, The Secretariate student leadership included Susanna Helms ’24, who was chief justice in the Arab Court of Justice simulation and adjudicated cases designed and prepared over the last year by Salima Driss ’23. NCUSAR’s student program coordinator, Katie Grandelli ’20, continued her Model Arab League leadership legacy in her professional capacity, “extending the Hollins dynamic of collaboration, cooperation, and celebration to all participants,” said Chenette.
Held annually, NUMAL celebrated its 39th year in 2022. Started as an informal demonstration simulation at Georgetown University in 1983, NUMAL has grown to host over 400 students from approximately 25 colleges and universities annually. Delegates train year-round through mock simulations, course-structured research, and participation in regional Model Arab League conferences to prepare for this highly competitive international simulation. The 2022 conference was hosted by the Ronald Reagan Building & International Trade Center in Washington.