Last year, with the help of a faculty member from the political science department, I had the opportunity to plan and implement my university’s inaugural Model Arab League conference. This experience taught me a lot about how much work it takes to plan and execute a regional conference, as well as the challenges and rewards that come with it.
What is the Model Arab League?
According the National Council website,”Established in 1983, Model Arab League (MAL) is the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations’ flagship student leadership development program. The Models are similar in organization and format to the older and more widely recognized Model United Nations (MUN), with its 193 member states.” Students have the opportunity to hone their public speaking and leadership skills by serving as delegates or chairs of committees. If you are interested, click here to learn more about the program. Best Delegate also explains it well here.
Interested in having your own conference at your institution? Here are steps to make it a reality:
1. Find a faculty member to serve as a local coordinator.
As mentioned, I worked closely with a political science professor throughout the whole process. First, approach any professors or faculty members that you think would be interested in serving as a local coordinator for the conference. Serving as a local coordinator is a lot of work. The coordinator will be the point person for a NCUSAR representative and will assist in the planning process. Then, once you find a local coordinator, you can begin planning the conference!
2. Generate interest through recruitment and promotion efforts (and do it EARLY!).
Our conference took place in late October, and we began generating interest for it in August and September. The professor mentioned in it classes, had a table at the fall study abroad fair, and spread the word throughout departments and offices on campuses. He was especially vocal with the departments helping financially with the conference. Good advertisement and word of mouth will generate interest in the conference. If you generate interest early enough, you will get a higher amount of participation. If you are doing a regional conference (like ours was), contact other universities that would be interested in taking part and sending their students to your conference.
3. Find funding for your conference and budget accordingly.
A number of organizations on different campuses—including Student Government, the Political Science department, the English department, and the Center for Human Rights and Genocide Studies—funded our conference. Most of our funding came from those in the liberal arts part of the university. Also, you can contact the multicultural office, international office, and the student affairs division to get more sponsorship and funding. We also had a registration fee (that came from students) to help us cover costs. Lastly, make sure to budget accordingly. We had to budget for the guest speaker we flew in. We also needed to consider the other little things involved to make sure we had the amount required to run the conference successfully. Each conference is unique, so each budget will be unique.
4. Hold info sessions.
We held two information sessions about the conference to let people know what to expect, to inform people of deadlines for registration, and to recruit additional participants. Don’t forget to have a training session on parliamentary procedure.
5. Enjoy the conference!