Practicing Diplomacy at SERMAL

Braggins 1I became an Honors Ambassador last fall to begin to give back some of the generosity bestowed upon me by the Honors Program, and the Honors Travel Grant I received this spring is the perfect display of this generosity. I was selected by the Northeastern International Relations Council to be a part of the delegation for the Southeast Regional Model Arab League Conference (SERMAL) held in Spartanburg, SC. The Honors Travel Grant sponsored my trip to Spartanburg and allowed me to represent Northeastern in the Joint Defense Council of the Model Arab League Conference.

SERMAL began with an opening ceremony. As other colleges arrived, the politicking began as delegates from other universities, community colleges and high schools identified members of their respective committees to discuss their desired agendas. It was a bit overwhelming, as it was my first model conference experience and I wanted to settle in and get comfortable, not negotiate with the other delegates on our first night. However, I soon found I was able to navigate around debating the dangerous topics outside of committee, where debate is moderated by a designated chair. Instead, I focused on getting to know the other delegates, where they came from, and if, like me, this was their first conference.

The first session began with setting the agenda and moved on to discussion about unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly known as drones. Border security and information sharing were hot topics, and my partner and I negotiated for resolutions that would best serve the country we were representing, Qatar. The next morning, we finished up the first topic and moved onto the next topic, cybersecurity. Midway through negotiations, our council was hit with a simulated crisis involving a Syrian intervention and the bombing of Palestine by Israel. After sorting through a possible joint military intervention, we were done for the day.

Finally done working the room and politicking all day, we got to spend time with the other delegates outside of committee on Saturday night. We got to know each other more and made light of some of the heavier topics addressed earlier in the day. By Sunday morning, we had almost a rhythm in committee and were able to finish up resolutions in time for the final meeting. My partner and I were awarded the Outstanding Delegation Award for the Joint Defense Council. I was able to improve as a delegate faster in three days than I had in three months, and became more confident in committee. Traveling with the Northeastern International Relations Council team showed me to see how strong and influential our delegates can be. The Honors Travel Grant allowed me to experience and grown as not only a Model Arab League delegate, but as a public speaker and negotiator.

Katherine Braggins, International Affairs