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Thursday 23 auGusT 2012


campus life
sidra alam

I cant wait to go back to the burgh

Qatars Al Anabi Racing Top Fuel Team team in action

us exchange students see Qatar drag racing team thanks to QFI

tHREE HIgH scHOOl students from the United States of America, among a group of 19 who traveled to Qatar last autumn on a cultural exchange with Qatar Foundation International (QFI), recently visited a top American drag race to meet a Qatari-owned team. This latest opportunity, also organized by QFI, saw the students visit the OReilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals as guests of Qatars Al Anabi Racing Top Fuel Team. Brian Collier, Jade Moore, and Joshua Short, who are all students of the Lindblom Math and Science Academy in Chicago, got to meet the twotime defending NHRA Full Throttle Top Fuel World Championship team, which is backed by His Excellency Sheikh Khalid Bin Hamad Al Thani. We had huge amounts of fun at the drag race, Short said. I also learned that the world of sports is changing, not only in the US, but in other countries, including Qatar.The sports I love are becoming more integrated and shared among other countries. Sport

visit Chicago group meet Al Anabi Racing Top Fuel outfit

is crossing boundaries. The students were invited to attend the race after taking part in a cultural exchange visit to Qatar. Short also visited Al Wakra Independent School for Boys. During my exchange, I collaborated with the students to clean beaches, learn about water and its scarcity, as well as treatment mechanisms within Qatar, he said. We discussed topics such as ocean acidification and worked on films and projects to present at the end of our 10-day visit. My groups film documented the issues, concerns, and solutions of

Student Joshua Short

water management and preservation. The films were screened at DC Environmental Film Festival, Washington DC, USA, in front of renowned environmentalist and film-maker Alexandra Cousteau, who also discussed the students work. I will use the experiences I have gained through QFI to help others understand how vital it is that we act on world issues quickly, Short said. The way I live and how I carry myself has also changed as a result. I have discovered that cultural differences and language doesnt have to impede the way we find solutions. Its up to us as individuals to collaborate and learn from one another. QFI identified Chicagos Lindblom Math and Science Academy as a leader in both Arabic and science studies, making it a perfect candidate for a cultural exchange with Qatari schools. With about 200 students studying Arabic, it has the largest Arabic program in Chicago and among all US public schools.

tAmuQ students help ugandan community

cOmmuNItY DEVElOPmENt. Students from Texas A&M University at Qatar (TAMUQ) and the universitys main campus in College Station, Texas, helped villagers to protect their fishing farms and taught children at local schools during a service trip to Bujagali Falls, Uganda. The team, which included 15 students fromTAMUQ and three from the Texas campus, worked throughout the trip with the SOUL (Supporting Opportunities for Ugandans to

Learn) Foundation, an organization fostering sustainable and vibrant Ugandan communities through improving education, womens empowerment, food security, and health. The students raised QR 7,300 prior to their trip and donated the funds to the Ugandan village and the SOUL Foundations work. Upon arrival in Uganda, the students were told of a water dam near the village that was disrupting fishing and tourism. They worked with

the SOUL Foundation to establish a fishing shelter so that local fisherman could protect their fish farms. Nabil Ahmed, an electrical engineering student, said the trip was a unique opportunity to experience Africa and, more importantly, to give something back to the community. Rachel White, the Prog ram Co-ordinator for Student Engagement, said this was the first joint service trip between the two university campuses.

WHEN I was accepted into Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar (CMU-Q), I had no intention of going abroad to study but just last semester I was on the main campus in Pittsburgh. When I joined CMU-Q I was satisfied with my opportunities. However, my desire to pursue a minor in robotics required me to study in Pittsburgh, too. The thought of going to the main campus made me feel very intimidated. But now, after just over four months in Pittsburgh, Im back in Qatar reminiscing on what I would call the most productive portion of my life. Apart from the excitement of visiting Pittsburgh, my experience within campus was also worthwhile and shared some similarities with the Qatar campus. I found the students were just like us on QF campus and there was nothing that they had that we didnt have. The courses run were similar in terms of the workload and grading scheme. The differences came in the mechanism in which the courses were operated. For instance, the number of teaching assistants was usually more than at CMU-Q, and they were generally PhD students. In contrast, at CMU-Q teaching assistants are typically still pursuing their bachelors degree, but in a higher year. This is not a significant difference because it is eclipsed by the fact that the professors on main campus are almost unreachable. Its impossible to access them without a prior appointment. At CMU-Q, we students usually enjoy the privilege of stopping by a professors office at any time of the day. We can interact with them face-toface about anything from

academic issues to any casual problem. Also, with the small student numbers at CMU-Q, we have the opportunity to be assessed by the professor on an individual basis. One aspect of Pittsburgh that I miss is the work ethic - to work hard and be productive throughout the day. It was an inspiration to see people working in any and every place. We stayed in a studentfriendly zone with two major universities, CMU and University of Pittsburgh, in the neighborhood. The place was filled with students. We used to walk to a caf or diner to experience a change in environment that would motivate us to study. The beautiful weather and breathtaking sakura trees [cherry blossoms] made this experience all the more rejuvenating.

At CMU-Q, we usually enjoy the privilege of stopping by a professors office at any time of the day
Weekend plans were exciting with snow tubing, ice-skating, a trip to see the Niagara Falls, the National Aviary, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, and Kennywood amusement park, to name a few. I learnt a great deal from my experiences in a new environment with foreign people from different walks of life. I have returned as a changed person with a life-changing boost in my confidence and I am hopeful of visiting the burgh again.

Sidra Alam is a rising senior in computer science at Carnegie Mellon university in Qatar.