Dar Si Hmad for Development, Education and Culture is an independent nonprofit organization founded in 2010 promoting local culture and sustainable initiatives through education and the integration of scientific ingenuity in Southwest Morocco. We operate North Africa's largest fog harvesting project, providing villages with access to potable water. Our Water School and Girls' E-Learning Programs build capacity in the Anti-Atlas Mountains. Through our Ethnographic Field School, researchers and students engage with local communities in Agadir, Sidi Ifni, and the rural Aït Baamrane region for meaningful cross-cultural exchange.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

UIRMAL 2018: A Challenge That I Was Able To Overcome

Written by RISE Alumna & DSH grantee:
Imane Arjdal 
Imane at Model Arab League conference
Participating in an international conference has always been a goal for me. My involvement in Model Arab League (MAL) is a story of personal interest, institutional support, and faculty-advisor mentoring and training. Model Arab League is a multi-regional competition where students from across the world learn about and compete as representatives for member states of the Arab League. Through Dar Si Hmad, I was able to reach this goal.
My name is Imane Arjdal, and I’m 20 years old. I am in my second year at Ecole Supérieure de Technologie, majoring in business management. I am also a former RISER from Rise 2018, the contemporary issues, critical thinking, and creative expression program. 
Imane during the training led by Anna
When I first got the email from Dar Si Hmad informing me that they wanted to sponsor RISE alumni to attend this conference, I felt hesitant to apply because I thought I didn’t have any experience in politics or defending country policies, but after more thinking and encouragement from a friend, I finally decided to apply. The process of applying was difficult, but it was an opportunity for me to increase my knowledge about different subjects and to enhance my skills in public speaking and diplomacy. I wrote four different essays for the application related to my chosen council, which was Arab Social Affairs.
I got accepted to attend the MAL after a highly-competitive application and an intensive interview, so I considered this conference as a challenge that helped me step out of my comfort zone and learn more. Before attending the conference, Dar Si Hmad provided us with a training held by their intern Anna Cizek, who was also our instructor and Ibn Zohr University advisor. She taught us everything about the MAL, starting from what it is, to parliamentary procedures, and how to talk and debate in the council sessions. Since it was my first time doing Model Arab League, the sessions were extremely helpful. After two weeks of training, the time had come for us to travel to the International University of Rabat (UIR). My feelings were scattered, jumping from stress to excitement.
Imane and her faculty advisor Anna and colleagues Ayoub and Intissar
After a long night on the bus from Agadir to Rabat, we finally made it to the university, which became very fascinating to me. The participants came from a variety of universities from all over the world, including Georgia State University, NYU Abu Dhabi, AALIM center, Wilmington College, UIR, and Ibn Zohr University, which was represented by our team.
The first day of the conference was the most interesting because we got to visit the Moroccan parliament and network with the other participants for the first time. In the evening, we attended the UIRMAL opening ceremony and listened to a lecture about “challenges, transition, and promise for sustainable development in the Arab world “discussed by the UNIC Rabat director. Afterwards, many other professors gave speeches, one of which was a welcoming speech held by Dr. Aaron Ashby, the director of the UIRMAL conference.
A visit by some of the participants to the Moroccan Parliament 
Model Arab League had more than four sessions a day that were two hours each. Going through my first session was really hard due to me being unfamiliar with the procedures. In the sessions, we got to debate, discuss and come up with new policies for our council’s agenda points as representatives of Model Arab League countries.
I represented the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a challenging country that I had so much fun representing in the end. As the sessions advanced, I became more and more efficient at debating and discussing new policies about the issue in front of us. With the encouragement of my faculty advisor, Anna Cizek, and the chair of our council, Carissa, supporting me from afar during the sessions, my confidence increased.
Imane during the conference
Being a part of Model Arab League’s second edition was a life-changing experience. From applying to debating, discussing my ideas, and helping write position papers as a sponsor, everything felt like a challenge that I was able to overcome. Not only was this experience an opportunity for me to get out of my comfort zone, debate, and talk in front of people, but it was also an opportunity to learn and increase my knowledge on political developments throughout the Arab world, diplomacy, and parliamentary procedure.
I developed important skills like critical thinking and how to assume leadership in a group, not to mention that I met amazing people from different nationalities and I have got to learn more about their life, culture, language, and perspectives.
Model Arab League was an unforgettable experience. I returned to Agadir with both new experiences and new friends. I want to thank Dar Si Hmad for sponsoring me to attend this conference that I will be forever grateful for, and I hope to work with them again in the future.
Imane with fellow participants at the Social Affairs Council