Three years ago when Arnaud Lukombo came to California State University, Dominguez Hills as a student of the university’s American Language and Culture Program, his command of English was limited.
Now an undergraduate in the political science department, the Frenchman is winning awards due in large part to his ability to speak and write well in English.
Lukombo was recognized with an Honorable Mention award at the Harvard National Model United Nations—held in Boston Feb. 14-17—for his contribution as a member of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation delegation representing Palestine on talks concerning the Palestinian–Israeli conflict.
“I was quite shocked that my name was called,” Lukombo said, adding that the shock was not because he didn’t feel worthy, but rather because of where he had been three years before in his language acquisition. “It’s thanks to the language program, and to Professor [Hamoud] Salhi [associate professor of political science], that I was there.”
It was Lukombo’s second time at the Harvard National MUN; he was among the CSU Dominguez Hills delegation during its first trip to the conference last year. HNMUN is the oldest and is considered the most prestigious of Model UN conferences. This year’s 59th session drew more than 3,000 delegates from American and international universities.
Lukombo, who plans to complete his undergraduate degree at CSU Dominguez Hills, said he was proud to represent the university in this way.
“It’s recognition that no matter what university you attend, if you work hard and you study hard that you can actually compete with some of the best universities in the United States and internationally,” he said.
Lukombo was among eight students from CSU Dominguez Hills who participated in the Harvard National MUN, debating and negotiating resolutions on topics ranging from targeted killings to the aging populations of the Third World. The CSUDH delegation included Brigett Garibay (senior, political science), Iran Guzman (senior, political science), Regina Hernandez (senior, political science), Ana Lopez (senior, political science), Jennifer Lopez (junior, criminal justice), and Julia Pak (senior, political science), all representing Central African Republic; and Lukombo and Raffi Norberg (junior, political science), representing Palestine. The students participated in five committees: Commission on the Status of Women, Disarmament and International Security, Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Third World Assembly on Aging, and World Health Organization.
MUN (POL 339) is a class taught by Salhi through the Department of Political Science each spring semester. The class is designed to train students in the art of diplomacy, including public speaking, debate, negotiation, and consensus building.
Up next for the class will be the Western Collegiate Model UN conference in Santa Barbara March 28-30. Lukombo will be there, hoping to bring back another award for the university.