For Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, diversity is not a buzzword. Dozens of countries are represented by the vibrant student community, and there are more than 76 international students from around the world on campus.
Each year the university builds on an environment where all members of the community recognize, respect and appreciate the rich diversity amongst them.
The Office of International Education works hard throughout the year to engage and assist students joining from other countries. This begins at the start of their journey into the Carnegie Mellon Qatar student experience, with immigration support prior to orientation. Support stretches to promoting dialogue, via dynamic group sessions on culture shock and adjusting to life in Qatar, which are aimed at helping students effectively transition to university life.
“The normal adjustments that any student must make when they start studying at a university are compounded for international students by the additional changes of living in a new country, being away from family, and having a roommate. This can be overwhelming for some students and we do our best to help provide support as needed to help students find their equilibrium,” said Melissa Deschamps, director of international education.
The culmination of the university’s commitment to recognizing diversity is International Day, an annual celebration that has been part of the Carnegie Mellon Qatar community since its inaugural year, bringing together students, staff, faculty and alumni
“International Day is about better connecting our diverse community. Participants develop an understanding and appreciation of cultural differences, express pride and confidence in their identity and engage in conversations that create more meaningful relationships,” Deschamps said.
This emphasis on cultural diversity is not a one off. Earlier in the week, the student-led Cultural Exchange Club organized the Global Bash – providing students with a platform to talk about where they are from and how they have adjusted to life in Qatar. Held outside on the university’s ‘green spine,’ the event invited students to sample foods from different countries and engage in games, henna design and cultural quizzes.
Dana Al-Ansari, a student in business administration, commented on her experience of the celebration: “It’s so nice to go to a university where we have students from all different backgrounds and this is a chance for our student community to become closer. It’s good that students can talk about their identity and show off their national dress.”
Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar’s continual international focus and emphasis on diversity has shrunken the geographic gap between students and built a sense of belonging among the community.