For those of you who don’t know, IMPAQT was the main reason behind my study abroad experience in Doha this semester. It is a year+ commitment to a team of 10 students and includes a Spring Break trip to our CMU campus is Qatar. At our CMU-Qatar campus, another group of students accomplishes the same mission- Initiating Meaningful Pittsburgh and Qatar Ties (IMPAQT). The goals of these trips are create a sustainable relationship between our campuses and expose students to another culture. Both groups act as hosts for one another’s 7000 mile journey. I’ve been fortunate enough to have been involved since my freshmen year, and I went on the trip last year. Throughout these few years, I’ve met many new faces from both Pittsburgh and Qatar. It’s been an integral aspect of my college experience and I’ve learned so much about the Middle East along the way.
This year, I was able to experience IMPAQT in a different way. I helped host some events in Qatar and I was able to participate in others. Being a Pittsburgh student living in Qatar, it was a unique experience that gave me a new view on the process. One highlight for me was that my roommate, Ahmad, was selected for the trip this year! I got to see him in Doha, while also meeting plenty more Pittsburgh students.
The Qatar students spent their Spring Break in Pittsburgh exploring the neighborhoods and meeting Pittsburgh students. They received tours of tech companies (Gooooogle) and our robotics lab, and they saw a CMU basketball game. They participated in campus events and got to try plenty of local cuisine. Of course they also made a trip up the Duquesne Incline and attended a Penguins game! I can’t speak for their experiences, but may of them loved their time in Pittsburgh and hope to return for a semester in the States.
After returning to Doha from my Spring Break, I was here for the final few days of the Pittsburgh->Doha trip. The Pittsburgh students were introduced to Education City and given tours around the surrounding campuses. They were invited to a student’s home to experience a majlis setting which is special to the culture here, but has some Western parallels. They participated in campus events here, and the entire Qatar campus was incredibly welcoming. They also toured Al Jazeera thanks to my friend Joe Hill, who is here on study abroad to intern with one of Al Jazeera’s documentary departments. I was able to join the group for their Desert trip and dune bashing, where we came pretty close to the Saudi and UAE borders. Their last night included a Dhow tour of the Corniche and skyline. It was a chance to say goodbye after an exhausting 2 weeks of events. The IMPAQT members loved their time in Doha, and were thankful for everyone who made it possible. I was happy to be there for part of their trip and see them make connections with people halfway around the world. Words cannot do justice for the experience of the trip. I hope it drives more people to become involved with our Qatar campus and they then consider visiting the Middle East.
I look forward to staying involved in the IMPAQT community, keeping in touch with all my Doha friends, and returning to Doha at some point in the future! This program has created something special, and the effort both campuses put in is what keeps it going year after year.