Sunday, March 29, 2009

Recapping Qatar: Part Two

When I woke up to a White Christmas in March this morning, I wept bitterly into my pillow and thought about the fact that a week ago I spent Sunday morning at the Ritz-Carlton Doha pool, reading a book and working on a sun tan (burn) that is now nothing more than a peeling forehead and slightly bronzed arms. Chicago, why must you torment us so?

As I have previously detailed, the reason for my jaunt to Qatar was the opening of NU's new campus in Doha's dazzling educational metropolis known as Education City. The trip culminated in a glitzy opening ceremony at the Carnegie Mellon University building (where NU will hold classes next year, as the completion of their own building is still a few years away). As guests entered the building, they passed under a mock Northwestern Arch bathed in purple light.

Actually, all my memories of the evening are tinted purple in my mind, as the cavernous marble hall where the event took place was covered with purple banners, purple lights and another giant NU Arch over the stage. There was even a box of purple-trimmed NU chocolate at every seat, but I was busy filming and sadly forgot to grab mine before I left.

The ceremony featured speeches by various NU dignitaries, videos touting the work of Medill and the School of Communication in Evanston, video testimonials from current NU-Q freshmen and a performance of broadway musical numbers by Evanston theater students.

All in all, it was a pretty great night to be affiliated with Northwestern. As a proud alum, it was an honor to watch school history being made and to be responsible for documenting those moments (videos coming soon!).

From the students to the faculty to the staff, everyone at NU-Q seems really excited to be there and optimistic about the school's future growth. That excitement was definitely contagious. Applications for next year are way up, too.

Probably the most moving moments of the event were hearing from the NU-Q students themselves, who expressed a tremendous pride over having the opportunity to attend an institution like Northwestern, with one student declaring, "I am a Wildcat." I think that's something that is easily taken for granted, especially on the Evanston campus, when NU is not a student's top choice and they spend four years gnashing their teeth over being rejected by Harvard. I was always (and remain) just happy to be there.

Aside from being a good move for NU on the global education scene, NU-Q offers a positive opportunity for Western-style education to residents of Qatar and neighboring countries. In this way, NU truly is a "pioneer" (a word that was thrown around frequently throughout our stay in Doha) and I think all Wildcats can take some pride in that.

Now send me an NU-Q t-shirt!

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