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.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

UIRMAL 2018: A Gateway For Other Interesting Opportunities

                    Written by RISE Alumnus & DSH grantee: Ayoub Nachat

Ayoub in the last day of the conference
Before I talk about my experience with Model Arab League, a short self-introduction would be helpful. My name is Ayoub Nachat, I am 24 years old, and I am a master's student majoring in Applied Linguistics and Language Studies at Ibn Zohr University.  I am an alumnus of the RISE program 2017/2018 edition. The Rise program was very rich and interesting in terms of knowledge and the different opportunities it brought me and other alumni. 
I found the application form for the conference on Dar Si Hmad's Rise Alumni group. It was a five-page application form where I had to introduce myself, my background, my previous experiences with Model United Nations (MUN) and write four essays on different topics. I already had previous experiences with MUNs before as a delegate and a chair as well, but Model Arab League (MAL) was an opportunity for me to go through an interesting new experience. As I expected, this opportunity caused me to notice many differences between MAL and MUN. 
Ayoub during the training
After filling out the application form online, I passed the first round and I was contacted by Dar Si Hmad's staff to sit for an interview. The interview was smooth and to the point. I was asked by the interviewer, many questions along the lines of: “introduce yourself, why do you think we should select you to be part of the conference?”, and “talk about your previous experiences in MUNs?” She has also explained to me everything that has to do with logistics and what is expected from me as a delegate at the conference. 
Days later, I received an acceptance email that said I was selected to be the head delegate of the delegation sponsored by Dar Si Hmad and Fulbrighter Anna to represent Ibn Zohr University in UIRIMAL in Rabat. One week later, we started the training sessions regarding MAL's procedures and topics. The trainings were rich, inclusive, and to the point as well, but it would have been better if our university had signed us to participate to have a longer period of training since the other delegations from other countries had started training months before. However, I am still thankful to Dar Si Hmad and Anna who signed us, sponsored us and trained us in a very limited time period.
Ayoub during his visit to the parliament
On November 1st, the delegation that consisted of 4 people, University Advisor Anna Cizek, Imane Arjdal, Intissar Blila, and I, left for Rabat. After we arrived the next day, we checked into the Université International de Rabat (UIR) dorms. Later, we went to meet the other delegates in order to go to the Moroccan parliament for a cultural visit. That was a very interesting experience for both Moroccan and other delegates from different countries since we all had the chance to learn many things about the political system of Morocco and how parliament works. 
I also had the chance to serve as a translator for the guide in the parliament who was explaining everything about the parliament institution, and that was very special and meant a lot to me. Later in the evening, the opening ceremony of the UIRMAL conference started, and different speeches were delivered by the organizers of the event. 
From left to right: Intissar, Anna and Ayoub
The next morning, we started the committee debates and discussions, and I was very eager to participate as much as possible and defend the stand of the country I was representing, which was Saudi Arabia. I always try to seize such opportunities to develop both my personal and professional skills. I also made many friendships and met new people, and I would like to advise the readers to grow their networks as much as possible in such events. You will meet new people who can really inspire you and make you see the world from another perspective. 
This conference was different from other MUN experiences I’ve had before. The procedures made me feel a little bit disconnected, but I worked hard to overcome that challenge by getting into debates and lobbying with other delegates. Additionally, I had to prepare for many different and complicated topics in a short amount of time and, luckily, I managed to do that in the free time during the conference. 
Ayoub with other participants at the conference
Besides the difficulties I faced, I really loved being a delegate in UIRIMAL. First, I had the chance to meet new young, ambitious, and very nice people. Since I arrived to the university, I never felt alone. In fact, at this moment while I am writing this blog, a young guy I met at this event just sent me a message.  Another advantage of this conference that I enjoyed was the academic training. It was not easy to participate in all the debates and discussions through speaking in public, working with others, and negotiating ideas, but I had to really challenge myself to do that and improve both my personal and professional skills.
Participating in Model Arab league was a pleasure and a great experience that has taught me a lot and I am willing to make this experience a gateway for other interesting opportunities, both for me and students in my community.

Ayoub in the MAL conference

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