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High school students experience strength in unity

Teenagers from private and public schools learn negotiation skills and conflict resolution in the third Model EU session at LAU Byblos.

By Florence Massena

[photo]
LAU students from different majors contribute to the organization of the training sessions.

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Run by the Outreach and Civic Engagement unit (OCE) at LAU and inaugurated in late October with the Hariri Foundation for Sustainable Human Development and the Bringing Europeans Together Association, the Model European Union (MEU) is a simulation leadership program that aims to give Lebanese high school students the opportunity to explore the European Union and its strategic potential.

“The LAU MEU is a pioneering model implemented for the first time in the world for high school students in order to explain the complexity of the decision making process inside the EU, especially that pertaining to the European Parliament and Council of Ministers,” proudly declared Elie Samia, assistant vice president for Outreach and Civic Engagement at LAU.

The program consists of five training sessions through which students are first taught about the history, institutions and function of the European Union, followed by the rules of procedures, as well as negotiation and conflict resolution skills.

A final conference―scheduled for February 18 and 19―will draw the program to a close with a simulation of the European Parliament and Council of Ministers by the participants.

“We expect it to be the biggest simulation of the world with around 300 participants,” said Hassan Baalbaki, program coordinator.

Exploring the political, economic, social and cultural diversity of the EU is extremely important for Lebanese students, especially since the program highlights the intensity of the Euro-Mediterranean partnership.

LAU students from different majors contribute to organizing these sessions through their coordination role in five teams: school relations, logistics and operation, training, public information and public relations, which also help them develop skills and gain experience in their field.

For the high school students present at LAU Byblos last weekend―with some of them also involved in the Model United Nations (MUN) program―the European Union model is quite challenging, offering a different perspective to that of the United Nations. 

Mira Ghamrawi, 15, particularly appreciated the fact that “the European alliance brings another approach and one gains a lot of information and skills that make you feel you’re worth something.”

Meanwhile, Nour Zeineddine, also 15 and from the Saint Georges School in Beirut, feels that “understanding how the European Union works is really complex and instead of just countries, you have to deal with political parties.” On a personal level, this program also helps him to “meet new people and speak better in public.”

Indeed, for Baalbaki such an experience is very helpful for the students on both personal and professional levels: “It targets human beings at the perfect age to develop their leadership skills and their interest in citizenship politics,” he remarked.

LAU boasts no less than 12 years of a successful experience with the Model United Nations and six years with the Model Arab League. MEU and MAL are made available to students in Sidon through the Outreach and Leadrship Academy (OLA).

 


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