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Canadian University Dubai Collaborates with Harvard University to Inspire Young Leaders

by Eddie Rayner

The Canadian University Dubai (CUD) Department of Communication and Media has collaborated with Ivy League institution, Harvard University, to stage a regional youth congress tasked with tackling some of the biggest global challenges. The Harvard Model Congress Middle East (HMCME) convened at CUD and assembled over 100 high school students with teams representing eight institutions across the GCC.

During the three-day event, students took on the roles of US Representatives, US Senators, and UN delegates to bring forward solutions to some of the world’s most pressing concerns, including international health policy, peace and security, and climate action. Through public speaking, negotiation, and compromise, the high school pupils worked alongside Harvard students to delve into the complex global issues and develop appropriate bills and resolutions, while navigating the nuances of the legislative process.

GCC high school students join model congress to develop solutions to global challenges

Among the participants was 17-year-old Joshua Oommen from The Council Leadership Academy – Kuwait, who won the award for best delegate in the World Bank committee. Speaking about his motivation to take part, Joshua said: “The Congress is an opportunity to collaborate with people representing different perspectives, to come up with resolutions that could help solve real-world issues, in the case of this committee, debt relief. The simulation allows you to take on a different persona and has certainly developed my communication skills and given me a better understanding of the wider world.”

Winning the award for the best large delegation was the team from The Council Leadership Academy – Lebanon, whose mentor, Takla Rahbani, said: “These intensive simulations enable students to learn a lot about a specific challenge that impacts beyond their familiar homeland environment. The format helps them to develop skills in negotiation and problem-solving and to cooperate with others, which are the critical competencies they will need to take a lead in tackling the challenges of the future.”

During the three-day event, students took on the roles of US Representatives, US Senators, and UN delegates

HMCME was established in 2012 and has become renowned as the premier international relations simulation for high school students in the Middle East. Through a lively forum of debate, the Congress aims to help develop students’ leadership and public speaking skills, build their understanding of intergovernmental organisations, and acquire the ability to find common ground among disparate views. The event also offers the opportunity to interact socially, learn from current university students, and experience cultural performances, which this year were organised by the CUD Student Council.

HMCME President for 2023, Samuel Lowry, said: “We are grateful to CUD for collaborating with us to stage this immersive learning opportunity for students in the region. Participating in the Congress is an excellent resumé builder as it teaches participants critical leadership skills, including how to work with a diverse group of people, to communicate across ideological boundaries, and to disagree respectfully, while developing impactful solutions. It also motivates civic participation, which students can take forward to make a difference in their own communities.”

Head of CUD’s Department of Communication and Media, Dr Ghada Abaido, added: “Across the three days we have seen high school students from around the region develop a greater understanding of the world and the principal social, economic, and environmental challenges. They have also been able to spend time in Dubai and discover the educational opportunities and rich cultural experiences the city has to offer. We look forward to welcoming them back in the future as they begin to explore their own higher education ambitions.”

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