Evening is now besetting Doha, the last prayer call just finished, and I am taking this opportunity to sit down and make my posting for the day. I say "a first" in the title, because right now is the very first amount of free time in our schedule that we've actually had so far this trip. We have this evening free, along with tomorrow morning until we leave at 2pm for our overnight desert safari. We've been going non-stop, and it will be nice to actually sit back and relax for a while. A group is heading out later on, but I might have an opportunity to meet up with an old classmate from WLC my freshman year who also just happens to be in Doha right now, so I think I will try to do that. We've really been going straight through for the past few days without a stop...one is needed.
Today we met with groups from Carnegie Mellon and Texas A&M. All of the universities here in Education City each offer their own cultural flavor to Qataris and other students, and I've come to realize that a cooperation like this is almost unheard of in any other place in the world. The fact that students are able to cross-register between the campuses to fulfill requirements, and participate in co-curricular groups and activities together is something not necessarily found in the United States. While each campus continues to offer its students the chance to be a part of their own cultural flavor, I believe they are still mindful of the many different cultural requirements that exist in this country. For example, most students have never had jobs, let alone work-study. They aren't familiar with personal responsibility, in the sense of having a work obligation or home job. There is a much more narrow range of life experiences (such as cleaning or even filling a car with gas) from which to relate to, and so the campuses offer students a chance to get practice in western cultural responsibility. I would love to come back to Doha in the future to see and experience how this type of learning environment has changed and evolved.
When I come back, I also want to visit their new student center, soon to be completed this year. It's an amazing facility which we were able to tour this afternoon, complete with bowling alley, basketball courts, food court, shopping areas, and even a daycare center. It will be amazing experience for students and staff alike.
I promised some more pictures, so here are a few (has it already been a week that I've been here?):
The "flower pot" to the left contains other edible vegetable flowers...a unique idea.
A nice shot of downtown Doha.
Waiting for some Lebanese cuisine.