MAL Memories
Reflections on a decade of Model Arab League, 1991-2001


Welcome to the Model Arab League website of program alumnus Smokey Ardisson. On April 28, 2001, at the conclusion of the 5th National High School Model Arab League at Georgetown University, I retired from the program after a decade of participation and service.

For the past two years, this page has been the semi-official home page of the Berry Model Arab League. Shortly after my retirement, the faculty advisor and current members of the Berry MAL established an official home page on the Berry College webserver (it looks really slick, and I love the tagline!).

Because of these two events, I have redesigned this section of my website to focus on my "memories" from a decade of MAL experience. All of the content formerly found at the semi-official site can still be located here, in one form or another (including the "historic" Berry MAL home page); some of it, as well as recent news and much more content, can now be found at the official Berry Model Arab League website. Please visit the official website, but also feel free to sift through my memories here.

Over the past decade, I have been fortunate to meet a large number of wonderful people through the program, watch them learn and grow, become better speakers, and become more informed about the Middle East, the Arab world, and Islam. I have seen the program change people's lives.

And it has changed my life. The Model Arab League has been one of the most meaningful and informative experiences in my life. Because of the program, I have met wonderful people, twice travelled to the region "on scholarship" for summer study (Egypt and Syria), and finally ended up at Georgetown University pursiung a doctorate in Middle Eastern history.

As a freshman in high school, not knowing Iraq from Syria, I was selected to join my high school's delegation to the first MAL for high school students, the 1992 Atlanta High School Model Arab League. Since then, I have been fortunate to have been part of award-winning programs at both the high school and college levels; I have served as Secretary-General of the Atlanta and National High School Models, the Southeast Regional (university) Model, and the Assistant Secretary-General of the National (university) Model. I have lost track of the number of awards the Central Gwinnett HS and Berry College delegates and delegations have won since then.

At the 10th Atlanta High School Model (January 2001), Central Gwinnett was honored as one of only a handful of schools that have attended all ten models; there, as the only Secretary-General some delegates have known, I also passed on my gavel to Faith S McKinley, one of the most outstanding delegates I have known in my career, and reclaimed my title as "Secretary-General Emeritus."

At the 19th National Model Arab League (April 2001), I watched as the Berry Model Arab League—which I helped found in 1995—completed its rise to national dominance by winning, in only its third year of attendance, a National Model Outstanding Delegation award. The past six years had been "Berry years" for Model Arab League, as the delegation established its dominance of the Southeast and set its sights on National level. (A more detailed history of Berry's triumphs can be found here or on the official website.)

Finally, at the 5th National High School Model—a model for which I had also served as the first Secretary-General—I retired (for the second time, but this one will stick!) from active participation in Model Arab League and passed on my gavel to my able Assistant Secretary-General, Andrew Latimer. It was also a privilege to work with the best set of chairs I have ever known, Anita Butani, Michelle Grappo, Sofia Khilji, Alison Mansheim, and Alefiyah Shambhoora.

I suppose that's about as much reminiscing as I should do at the moment; stories of delegates such as Claire and Nora Todd, Heather Preston, Russ Allen, Stephen Fenton, Karinna Riddett, Drew Arrington, Elizabeth Thompson, Parker Bohn, Amy Tate, Christine White, and Melissa Matthews will have to wait for another time, or for the photo galleries.


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