At the student-centered conference, students represent a specific
country in the Arab League and play the role of diplomat, he said.
They will divide into committee groups to discuss topics – joint
defense, political and Palestinian issues and social issues – and work
to develop solutions to those agenda items.
"It gives them an activation of skills that they will utilize
for their life and for their work moving forward," Al-Mallah
said. "And it teaches them about the Arab world and the region in
a more complicated, more nuanced way, where they understand a region
that is frequently misunderstood."
Among the life skills students learn is the art of negotiation,
collaboration and diplomacy, critical thinking abilities and enhanced
public speaking capabilities, Al-Mallah said.
He said the conference attracts students from a wide range of majors.
Indeed, this year's secretary-general for the conference, Fin
Lindberg, fits that description as a biomedical sciences major.
Lindberg, who has been involved with the conference for three years
after starting as a delegate, said course work in the Middle East
Studies minor, particularly a sequence that delved beyond the
headlines, helped pique her interest in the event.
She agreed with Al-Mallah that the conference helps hone critical
skills that will be useful professionally.
"It’s a fantastic way to learn how to resolve problems and get
great leadership experience. It also helps you bolster your confidence
in public speaking," said Lindberg, who has plans to become a
physician and noted this experience will be important to her when
talking to patients and others.
Al-Mallah said Grand Valley's longtime commitment to this conference
is a point of pride as well as a good opportunity for high-impact learning.
"This is the very essence of experiential learning," he said.