College kids are pretending to be Arab diplomats today through Saturday at an annual event in Orange City. Teams from Northwestern College and five other schools will stage the “Model Arab League,” taking on the role of spokespersons for countries in the Middle East. They must say what the diplomats would say, so they go find speeches from the countries involved, learn and present their stand on today’s issues. Professor emeritus Dr. Ray Weiss founded the Great Plains chapter of the Model Arab League, and says it can force a student out of their “comfort zone.”They must learn and express different ideas, and though students know they don’t have to change what they believe, they say it’s helped them understand. Dr. Weiss says many participants will go on to become diplomats themselves. He says it’s a tremendous learning experience to speak somebody else’s words. Each team member is assigned to speak as a representative of a country, and they’ll discuss that nation’s position on current issues like joint security programs, women’s and children’s issues, water rights, anti-terrorism strategies, and the return of Palestinians to Palestine. The school joining Northwestern College are Dordt College, University of Sioux Falls, Augustana College of Illinois, Illinois Central College, and Bemidji State University. Countries they represent include: Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Yemen and the United Arab Emirates.
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