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Brandeis International Relations Council displays early success

Brandeis International Relations Council displays early success

By Jacob Edelman

Section: Featured, Features

April 24, 2015

While Tanya Jajal ’17 enjoys discourse, upon entering Brandeis she found herself looking for something that was more policy-focused than what the university’s debate club offered. As a double major in politics and economics, she soon was motivated to build a new discourse club on campus—the Brandeis International Relations Council.

Similarly to model U.N. organizations, the BIRC offers discussions on the subject of international politics in U.N. format, model Arab League and model NATO. The BIRC was formed in December with help from other universities and prepared to hit the spring semester running. “We saw that Northeastern was successful along with Georgetown and a few other schools, so we decided to work in collaboration with Northeastern and create a club with their help. Their model U.N. is as successful as our debate club, so that’s how this whole thing started,” Jajal said.

“A lot of what BADASS does does not necessarily fall under the sphere of politics, while what we do specifically falls under policy and international relations,” Jajal went on, explaining that the format of the BIRC helps to train students to think diplomatically. “While I’m a debater at heart, I wanted to do something that focused on research and politics, so I decided to start my own thing,” she said, continuing, “In model U.N., rhetoric and quick responses matter, but they don’t mean anything without solid research and solid ideas behind them.”

There are conferences that are held all over the nation and beyond in places such as Washington D.C., New York and Montreal. This past weekend the club attended Northeastern for the Boston Model Arab League Conference.

The BIRC has started to demonstrate success similar to that of Northeastern’s club. Jajal sumed it up as the BIRC having “kill[ed] it” at the weekend’s conference.

Representing Morocco at the model Arab League, Brandeis went up against UMass Boston and several other schools. Given that it was their first conference, BIRC’s success came as a surprise to club members, who were working together as a team for the first time. Although a less formal conference in terms of format, all club members got dressed up and were thrown into crisis situations by the conference coordinators. Forced to negotiate with different countries and form quick alliances, the Brandeis Moroccans made out terrifically. “As Morocco, we’re not as relevant a state in the Middle East as Saudi Arabia, Iran or Iraq, but we still made it and created a sense of political dominance,” Jajal said.

Zach Kasdin ’18, a BIRC member who attended the conference at Northeastern said, “It was really exciting to be able to engage in hands-on diplomacy with other representatives of countries … I look forward to going to more conferences around the area next year.”

Thinking about how the BIRC could improve, Jajal noted that the club is working on greater recruitment efforts to get more of the student body involved. “We need to work on spreading the word,” she said.

In the future, Jajal would like to see Brandeis hosting its own conference. She also envisions the possibility of integrating the BIRC program into Brandeis’ current IR and politics programs to count as some form of credit, which is done at many other colleges and universities. “It’s competitive, but really educational,” she remarked.

Next year, BIRC plans to attend five conferences, including those in Boston and Washington, D.C. Jajal described her goal for the club to “get a solid team of people, train them and send them to these conferences to have a blast.”

Following Brandeis, Jajal hopes to attend law school and get into the field of international and political law. It seems that if she continues on her trajectory with the BIRC, things in this personal direction are certainly headed down a positive track.

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