Campus News

Model G20 gives students a taste of international relations

G20 simulates the G20 Summit and provides students with leadership and debate experience. | Courtesy of Ola Dafaalla

With the decision to dissolve the Office of Global Engagement and Special Programs, Model G20 has recently been adopted under the Speech and Debate Program at the Honors College. Such a transition has garnered interest in the organization’s inner workings and its goals and future plans for students at the University.

Model G20 is an innovative model debate program that is designed to simulate a G20 Leaders’ Summit. The Group of Twenty (G20) constitutes of the world’s largest economies like the US, Argentina, India, etc. 

Formed in 1999, its goal is to bring together the most important industrialized and developing economies to discuss international economic and financial stability. Topics typically include trade, sustainable development, health, agriculture, energy, environment, climate change and anti-corruption.

“In the simulation, teams of five to seven represent a country or international organization where they work with other delegations to come up with solutions to a variety of global issues and issue policy recommendations on behalf of the G20,” said Model G20 head delegate Ola Dafaalla.

Dafaalla explains that the program helps students build necessary skills related to multilateral negotiations, public speaking, team-building strategy, and diplomacy. 

Dafaalla joined Model G20 after attending the annual Honors Organization Fair during her freshman year. Now years later, she is in a leadership position. She is constantly organizing events, marketing the organization, communicating and being transparent with her members, and navigating the University’s bureaucracy. 

“Being in a leadership position has its challenges and rewards,” Dafaalla said. “It’s an incredible opportunity to get to work with other smart, motivated, and passionate students and to collaborate with them to build a team from the ground up and watch that team succeed.”

Furthermore, the organization typically participates in national conferences throughout the year. Last year, students attended the summit held at the American University in March 2023 and received top honors for their representation of Brazil and the World Health Organization.

“We are really excited to see who we will represent this year,” Dafaalla said.

Currently, their goals for the organization are to increase funding to attend the international summit and travel to DC for free. They also hope to recruit more members to grow the organization. 

Model G20 is open to all majors and does not require previous debating experience. It’s an organization that highly encourages learning and stepping out of your comfort zone, explained Dafaalla. Students gain valuable leadership skills while directly engaging in cross-cultural dialogue. In addition, it’s a great introduction to model debate because there is only one summit and there is no formal procedure that needs to be learned.

“Students should join because MG20 is a fun, unique way to explore global issues, and international diplomacy,” Dafaalla said. “Benefits to students include developing and improving public speaking, negotiation, research, diplomacy and problem solving skills in addition to getting to travel to DC.”

In addition, students can build valuable connections with peers, faculty, and professionals in international relations. Historically, this has enabled students to receive various scholarships, study abroad opportunities, and fellowships.

“We’ve won awards at every conference we’ve attended so we’ve got a pretty good team,” Dafaalla said.

With the new changes in leadership and sponsorship, Dafaalla is enthusiastic about what this could mean for the organization. 

“Being part of the Honors Speech and Debate Program has given us access to a professional debate coach, potentially more funding, and other resources we didn’t have before,” Dafaalla said. “With this extra support, I feel like model debate at UH has the potential to really develop into a bigger and better program and I’m looking forward to seeing us grow.”

Lastly, the friendships and travelling were some of the most memorable aspects for many members.

“My favorite part of MG20 is the actual conference,” Dafaalla said. “It’s interesting and fun navigating conference shenanigans with your teammates and it’s a great bonding experience.”

Students should reach out to [email protected] if they are interested in joining or come to a meeting.

[email protected]

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