NU ‘planting the seeds’ with Qatar students’ visit

Nathalie Tadena

About 10 students from Northwestern’s Qatar Campus will visit the Evanston Campus in two weeks to experience student life 7,000 miles away from Education City.

“The significance is certainly to give these students a chance to see Evanston and also a chance to meet the students there and feel more connected,” said Rebecca Donaldson, Communication ’08 and student affairs specialist at NU-Q.

The students will arrive on campus May 22 and leave May 31, staying in a hotel in Evanston.

The group includes students from both the communication and journalism programs at NU-Q. There was an application process to select the students, including an evaluation based on grades and essays, Donaldson said. The delegation will be accompanied by members of the student affairs staff and associate deans.

The Qatar Foundation will fund the trip. Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser al Missned, chairwoman of the foundation, toured NU’s Evanston and Chicago campuses last May.

NU opened its first foreign degree-granting campus in Doha in August with a freshman class of 38 students enrolled in the school’s journalism and media studies programs. NU is one of five American universities that have satellite campuses in Doha, as part of the nonprofit Education City initiative funded by the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development. A group of 80 administrators, faculty members and students traveled to the Middle East in March to celebrate the campus’s official inauguration.

“We’re very much looking forward to the visit,” said NU’s Vice President for University Relations Al Cubbage. “Those of us who were fortunate enough to go to Doha in March were really impressed by the students there.”

Donaldson said she hopes the NU-Q students will get to know Evanston students during their visit just as the 14 Evanston students who attended the Doha campus’s official opening over Spring Break were able to socialize with the NU-Q community.

The students’ itinerary includes a leadership dinner, the opportunity to attend undergraduate classes and a May 24 picnic on the Lakefill that all NU students will be invited to attend. Students will also visit Chicago, said Donaldson, who has organized a shopping trip on Michigan Avenue and tickets to a play at the Lookingglass Theatre, directed by NU theater Prof. Mary Zimmerman.

The students will also have the chance to meet with student groups, including the Executive Board of the Associated Student Government.

“One of my goals this year is establish a relationship with these students and build on that year after year,” said ASG President and Communication junior Mike McGee. “I’m hoping through that relationship I can give them advice and provide any resources that I can.”

Former ASG President Neal Sales-Griffin visited NU-Q in March. He said it is easy to keep in touch with many of the students he met there through e-mail and Facebook.

“It was a phenomenal experience for us to be immersed at the satellite, so this will be our turn to show them our piece of NU and see what we share,” the SESP senior said.

Cross-campus collaboration is often difficult, given the distance and time difference between the two campuses. Meeting in person is the best way to build relationships, Donaldson said.

“This is the first introduction for NU-Q students to Evanston and the first introduction for Evanston students to Qatar students,” she said. “We’re planting the seeds.”

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