Following its inception in 2015, the University of Nevada, Reno's Model Arab League team has claimed three straight championships.
The Model Arab League, a student team formed out of the College of Liberal Arts' political science department, is similar to Model United Nations. Both permit one student to represent a mock delegation for a selected country, but this league only includes 22 Arab countries. Team member Edwin Tran didn't know much about the project until his friends invited him to join last year.
"I knew about Model UN and was very familiar with it, but had only heard a little about the Model Arab League," Tran said. "My friends just kept pestering me for weeks about competing in it, and I'm interested in the topic, so I figured it might be fun to compete."
For Tran, his teams' most recent competition victory, won at the West Coast Regional MAL Conference in Santa Rosa, California last month, makes him a two-time champion. Some of the other team members can now boast two victories, also, but only one who can claim all three. He is University professor and Coach Eliot Assoudeh.
"In 2015, one student I taught in a 'Middle East in World Affairs' class approached me saying her four or five-person team had heard about a competition at UC Berkeley, but didn't have anyone to coach them on Middle Eastern affairs," Assoudeh said. "I coached them that year, and since then, have been appointed lead supervisor over the team."
With the team's recent success, the Model Arab League Club has now evolved into a special topics in comparative politics course.
"After we won for the third time this year, I talked to the department's political science chair, Eric Herzik, and asked why don't we turn the club into a course," Assoudeh said. "So, I designed a course and syllabus, which is provided through the political department but, remains open to all disciplines. We hope to turn the course into an autonomous curriculum next year."
Assoudeh hopes the course will be available next spring, and also notes the benefits to anyone thinking about joining.
"Since I've been helping them, a student's won the Saudi Arabia Exchange Fellowship/Malone Fellowship and another student received an internship through the National Center on U.S.-Arab Relations office in Washington D.C.," Assoudeh said. "I welcome anyone who wants to compete."
Last year, the team competed in nationals for their first time, but not amongst main countries. After winning their region, they registered late for nationals, but still attended as an observer.
Tran, Assoudeh and the rest of the team all look forward to getting another chance at competing amongst main countries at nationals next spring.