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Monday, February 1, 2010

The Final Five from Qatar

Pardon the lateness of the final part of this list, as I was on the road in Boston and Rhode Island this past weekend (future recap to come). Here's the final five from Qatar!

5. The food - Easily one of the highlights from the trip. I've had a lot of fun being able to experience so many different kinds of food in the many places I've visited, and Doha was no different. Lebanese, Moroccan, Italian, Qatari...so many different varieties and ways to prepare things. Even though I was not able to sample the 'camel' fare, the wide varieties of 'chicken' and lamb dishes were well prepared and fun to eat. I can't wait until I'm able to do a sample again.

4. The Souqs - Souq Waqef was probably our most visited, but it sure is an experience to go down the streets, talk with vendors, and do some haggling. Anything you can think of you can probably find, including bikes, suitcases, food, spices, shoes, and I could go on with the list. And, the best part is...it's all negotiable! I think most of us learned that starting to walk away might actually get you that sale at the price that you want, even if they won't budge too much.

3. Dubai and the Burj - The Tallest Building in the world. Wonder how long that's going to last. I think as a group we were very lucky to be able to ascend the tower and spend time up there, given how sold out the board looked when we first got there. No doubt it will hold for at least the next 10 years or so (bold prediction), but I'm curious how much taller you can actually go. Our afternoon hired cab experience was also fun, and we were able to visit the Jumeirah Beach Park, the Al Arab, the Gold Souq, and the Pearl. All in one day. It was a whirlwind tour, and we had a blast. How many times will we ever get to Dubai, right?

2. Teaming up with our friends from Maryland - I think many of us were curious about how all of our integrated work with the team from Maryland would work out, but in the end I think all of us gained a new group of friends and colleagues that we will keep active for many years. I certainly appreciated the shared knowledge and experiences they brought to every discussion, and I have to admit that many of the conversations we had both in large and small group I'm still reflecting on. Here's hoping we manage to keep in touch!

1. Interacting with new friends and colleagues in Education City, the YPI, and Campus Immersions - This is easily my #1. The one component of our work that we as a group from USD kept talking about before we departed was an experience and knowledge gap, since we did not hear the perspective on our topics from our Qatari friends. I'm happy to write that this goal was fulfilled. It was invaluable to have discussions, work through our various topic areas, and reflect on both the Qatari and Western approaches to education and student affairs with our new friends. I know that without Abdullah, Abdulla, and Nada, my YPI group would not have been able to complete our discussions and work. I'm proud of our work, and happy to have so many new friends. I hope sometime in the near future we're able to get together again!

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