Collegiate Competition Deepens Understanding
By Sandra Seitz
Fifteen student members of UMass Lowell’s International Relations Club (IRC) renewed a tradition of competing in the Model Arab League event, after several years of not fielding a team. IRC faculty adviser Ardeth Thawnghmung, associate professor of political science, helped prepare the team.
Having steeped themselves in the history, culture, policy positions and conflicts of Sudan, their assigned nation, the students met with teams from colleges and universities across the Northeast United States for three days of intense debate. The event was held in conjunction with the National Council on U.S.ߝArab Relations.
UMass Lowell team members brought home four individual awards: Honorable Mention to Manasa Kamineni, senior in economics; Tinuviel Lathrop, junior in political science; and Braden Boundy, junior in history. Boundy also won Best Advocate in the Arab Court.
“I am extremely proud of the delegation that went to represent UMass Lowell at the conference,” says IRC President Kamineni. “It was attended by some top-notch schools and it was a proud moment for all of us when we were recognized for our hard work and dedication.”
UMass Lowell began competing in the Model United Nations and Model Arab League programs in 1984, when the international relations program was established by Prof. emeritus Dean Bergeron. The international relations program offers a course ― Reading Seminar and Simulation Experience in International Relations ― to prepare students for the model competitions.
UMass Lowell students have been to model United Nations sessions held all over the world, from England to Italy to Egypt. Over the past 20 years, the students have represented more than 100 countries and brought back 100 individual outstanding performance awards. The club has won the Best Delegation Award twice in the past two years from the North American Model United Nations in Toronto.
The IRC has extended the model league experience to secondary students by hosting the annual High School Model League conference since 2005. The club received overwhelmingly positive responses from high-school faculty members and participants, most of whom commented on the program’s professionalism and well-run plan. The number of students participating has grown to 200.
The IRC also reached out to middle-school students with a program on Peace One Day, the International Day of Peace, which was established by the United Nations in 1981 to commemorate and strengthen the ideal of peace. Staff and student participants were from the BRIDGE (Beginnings, Respect, Independence, Diversity, Guidance, Education) program, an alternative middle school in Lowell.
Brian Twomey, a BRIDGE program teacher, who is a UMass Lowell and IRC alum, said, “Our students really look up college students, so having access to one for the presentation was brilliant. Our students were motivated and actively listening.”