Students at one of the 'Qatari Student Network's' events
Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar commemorates Qatar National Day by raising awareness on the country’s traditions and cultural heritage through its various outreach programs, technology and research projects and community work.
Ilker Baybars, dean of Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, reflects on the opportunities of participating in the country’s emergence on the global stage as a hub for world-class education and innovation.
“It is an exciting time to be in Qatar and a member of Qatar Foundation,” said Dean Baybars. “The country’s leadership has recognized the importance of educating young minds today to be innovative thinkers that develop solutions for sustainability tomorrow. There is an amazing wealth of intellectual traffic that comes through Qatar Foundation and its university partners that our students have access to, providing them a unique educational experience they would not experience elsewhere. We are proud to be a part of this exciting initiative.”
Most recently, Carnegie Mellon used its annual information systems outreach program, Ibtikar, as a platform to promote Qatari tradition and culture. Ibtikar is a program aimed at encouraging high-school students to design innovative and creative solutions to address challenges faced by society using an information technology based approach.
High school students from 20 different schools across the country were asked to develop an application that would connect FIFA 2022 World Cup visitors with Qatar’s history and cultural heritage through the use of the ‘Nirvana’ smart phone.
“The inspiration behind this innovation is that the university wants to give back to the local community, through fostering local talent, creativity and skills. This project will help students give a token of gratitude to Qatar; it is something that is relevant to the country especially that it is contributing to a major event (FIFA 2022 World Cup) that Qatar will proudly host,” said Selma Limam Mansar, associate teaching professor of information systems at Carnegie Mellon Qatar.
The university’s commitment to spreading awareness on the Qatari culture and traditions does not stop here. Students at Carnegie Mellon Qatar have established the “Qatari Student Network” club in 2009, to familiarize non-Qataris with the Qatari culture and traditions.
“As Qataris, we have a national obligation to spread awareness about our culture and traditions, to help bridge the communication gap between students, who come from different nationalities and backgrounds,” said Saleh Al Raisi, president of the Qatari club at Carnegie Mellon Qatar.
“The club hosted a variety of events, such as the ‘Qatari Majlis’, where we actually held the traditional Qatari wedding ceremony, including the traditional dowry given to the bride before marriage, as well as presented and showcased Qatari traditional food, clothes, arts and crafts,” he added.
Community service is one of the important virtues encouraged at Carnegie Mellon Qatar. From volunteer activities donating care packages to workers in the community to raising money for cancer research and education at the Qatar National Cancer Society, Carnegie Mellon’s student groups have taken an active interest in getting involved in meaningful ways, helping those in need.
“We try to integrate social and community work with our academic programs, as much as possible. For example, we introduce the concept of community service and its importance to our new students during the university’s orientation program,” said Paul Henderson, director of student activities and first year programs at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar.
“It is central to our mission that the students appreciate the value of giving back to our communities in a meaningful and active way,” he added.