Over the last three years, the School of Foreign Service has prided itself on the growth of its satellite campus in Qatar’s Education City. This year, SFS-Q will graduate its first class, a milestone not lost on Doha’s students and faculty, who have worked together to build the Georgetown name and foster main campus traditions. However, awareness of this occasion and of the campus itself is absent from the minds of many students and faculty on main campus due to the minimal interaction between the students on both sides. Unfortunately, Georgetown has placed the burden of tying the two campuses together primarily on the students and should do more to facilitate campus-to-campus interaction.

From Aug. 16 to 22, I joined six fellow Hoyas in Professor Dale Murphy’s course, INAF-447: Social Entrepreneurship in the Middle East and U.S., for a trip to Doha. The purpose of the class is to develop social entrepreneurship ventures in the region and engage citizens in addressing social realities. We were introduced to our classmates in SFS-Q, experienced Qatari life, and learned about the society, government and potential challenges faced by the country.

I would best describe Doha as daunting. Beyond the intense heat and humidity, you witness the rise of skyscrapers from the desert, the bustling Toyota Land Cruisers along the pedestrian-free streets, the green serenity of Al Corniche, and the squalor of the industrial compounds. At times, I felt living here would be a struggle: a compromise between development and culture, all the while being isolated inside buildings throughout the hot summer. Yet, it could be a fascinating adventure, witnessing an evolution of a city and country prepared to place itself on the forefront of both cultural and socioeconomic development in what remains a fractious region of the world.

Out of 1.45 million residents, less than 400,000 are considered native Qatari. Qataris must own at least 51 percent of any business operating in the country, and the vast natural gas wealth has contributed to one of the highest per capita incomes in the world. However, Qatar’s leadership clearly recognizes the temporal limitations of their natural resources and is positioning Qatar as a leading cultural force in the region. This is where Education City and Georgetown come in.

Spearheaded by Her Highness Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser al Missned, Education City includes world-class research institutions and satellite campuses from various universities providing educational opportunities for students, state-of-the-art athletic facilities and a vibrant atmosphere for companies pursuing research and development. SFS-Q focuses on international culture and politics, offering a liberal arts education like that which we receive in Washington. The student body is a patchwork of 28 nationalities, all of whom are Hoyas, who bring diverse perspectives on issues ranging from Israel, Lebanon and the United Nations to more day-to-day topics.

At the end of the week, I couldn’t help but feel that these students, now my friends, are exactly like us in many ways. It is a crying shame that I did not meet any of them prior to this trip.

Georgetown and the SFS have a responsibility: They must build stronger bridges between the two campuses, harness the enthusiasm students have to meet and interact with each other, and truly make SFS-Q Georgetown. Whether this is by offering more joint classes via the video conferencing room, developing an SFS-Q section of THE HOYA, or simply facilitating campus-to-campus communication via e-mail, Facebook or Skype, Georgetown should introduce us to our classmates.

ake it part of New Student Orientation: Have some incoming and current students from both areas create videos of themselves and their friends and play them during the first weeks of school, thereby putting a face to a name. Students should also work on tying together the multiple organizations on both sides.

The SFS should create projects tying Doha and Washington together, similar to what INAF-447 is doing, using the respective strengths and knowledge of students in both areas. I was surprised to learn about the industrial region of Doha, but I was emboldened by realizing that SFS-Q students and faculty are studying these places and seeking ways to better social conditions therein to contribute to Qatar’s positive development. Perhaps by harnessing the practical knowledge those students have and using the administrative and institutional foundations within the United States, similar projects could be pursued.

Administrators on both sides are cognizant of the idea that SFS-D.C. and SFS-Q, while different, are mutually beneficial. Each side has ideas, inspirations, lessons and opinions the other can build on, but students lack the tools and information necessary to connect D.C. and Doha. Nonetheless, the joy my classmates had at seeing or meeting people they studied with or met while abroad was palpable.

There needs to be more of this. I’m thankful that Georgetown introduced me to the faces I will be seeing on the video screen every Wednesday morning, but more than seven of us should have that opportunity.

George Chipev is a senior in the School of Foreign Service.

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