To many of us, university is a unique time in our lives. It is where desires of success, the craving for independence, the opportunity to experience life as per one’s wishes and the chance to meet people from diverse backgrounds all becomes a reality. The excitement is beyond any description.
Yet, to some of us (or most possibly a few) a university is much more than studies and obtaining a degree. Academia, in itself, is a world highly charged by international affairs and events that shape our reality. Various researches analyze a wide range of dynamics that have an impact on our communities and our world in a million ways. To simply state, a university is where one embarks on a journey of ideas, experiences a whole new world and a realm of opportunities that were never thought of.
The inaugural of the New Georgetown University (School of Foreign Service [SFS] Qatar) in Education City on 13 February 2011 turned out to be a major memorable event. Known for producing world-class leaders, the University opened its doors to students in Qatar seeking higher education in the field of international and regional affairs. The occasion was special for HE Sheikh Mohammed Bin Hamad Al-Thani, 2009 graduate of SFS Qatar and the Chairman of Qatar 2022 Bid Committee, was present along with Chairperson Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, HE Sheikha Moza Bint Nasser, Dr. John J. DeGioia – President Georgetown University and other dignitaries.
Yet, it was the spirit of the event that set it apart from the rest. The event became special for me as it provided an insight of a university that not only conducts high-end researches on critical international affairs, but also, is a tight-knit family where each member plays an important role in various ways.
The Building Opening Program
The building opening program began in the morning by a welcome note from Dr. Mehran Kamrava – Georgetown University SFS Qatar Interim Dean. I had, previously attended, one of the Distinguished Lecture Series organized by Georgetown University – Centre for International and Regional Studies (CIRS) where Robert Fisk was the guest and was the subject of an article here on my blog. Little did I knew, that in future, I would get the chance to be in the University and would be swept off by a variety of highly charged discussions.
For the first time, I witnessed a ritual that I always thought could only take place in books and films. Rev. Philip Boroughs and Imam Yahya Hendi conducted the blessing of the new building. This fascinated me for post 9-11, the world has changed dramatically, especially for the Muslims. Yet, here it was both a priest and imam standing together, blessing and praying for the building. Despite much real world challenges, I was made to realize that religions can co-exist and that inter-faith dialogue can foster a peaceful co-existence.
The blessing was followed by a panel discussions titled “The World in 2050: Global Issues and Their Impact on diplomacy and Education”. The distinguished speakers included Interim Dean Dr. Mehran Kamrava, Mr. Salman Shaikh – Director of Brooking Center Qatar, Dr Robert Wirsing – Visiting Professor SFS Qatar, the Honourable Chuck Hagel US Senator 1997-2009 and Distinguished Professor Georgetown University and Rev J. Bryan Hehir. The panel – divided in two parts – discussed the importance of America in the world politics and regional affairs, especially the Middle East, the energy, food and climate change challenges that the world faces and how changes in foreign policies especially of USA will set the new world order. The panel discussions set off my mind in a million directions. Links, articles, economic theory and research paper all came like a film running before my own very eyes.
My interest in researching issues from both social and economic perspective – the main reason of my writing – was fueled further by the panel discourse. Before I realized, various ideas regarding economic development and social issues became hot topics for research and articles. The fire had been re-kindled. After graduating from University of Glasgow, the atmosphere whereby I could discuss ideas, my perspectives on global issues and challenges arrived in a such a manner that even words cannot capture.
The Inauguration Ceremony
The inauguration ceremony of a new building could mean either nothing special or very special. For me, it was very special for it gave me the courage to follow my dreams. Visions can become reality and despite all challenges, it is determination, humbleness and strong belief that paves the way for achieving that vision and creating new relationships along the way.
Qatar Foundation is the vision of HE Sheikha Moza Bint Nasser. Realizing education as critical in creating future leaders and in bridging the gaps, Qatar Foundation has brought world-class universities such as Georgetown University SFS, Carnegie Mellon, Texas A&M, VCUQ and Weill Cornell to Qatar to pave the way for higher education in the fields of international affairs, medical sciences, engineering, business administration and arts. There must have been many challenges in the way, and yet, the determination and the will to develop and foster an educated community triumphed in the end. The vision today is a reality as students enroll and graduate from the universities and pursue careers in various fields. The students enrolled in such universities are fortunate for they have access to world-class education that one could only dream about.
Tonight is unforgettable for I have learned a lot more than ever.
It’s not a crime to have a vision. If you have a vision, pursue it no matter the obstacles in the path. Dream for they set the wheel of life in motion. Without dreams, the purpose of life is lost.Believe and live your dreams and be ready to work for it. Hard work always pays off. Be humble for arrogance never helped anyone. Be open to ideas for it is an experience of a lifetime not to bee missed at any costs.
In Georgetown University, I don’t feel like a stranger, an experience that I felt only in University of Glasgow. The smiling faces, the encouragement, the desire to excel and contribute, the space whereby to deliver your perspectives and to become a part of the world whereby one can contribute productively to the society can only be felt by those who perhaps see themselves in the world of academia.
It might be difficult for people to understand my experience of the ceremony. But, perhaps, some might not find it strange especially those who are working what they have always have been passionate about.
I have returned home :).
Most importantly, Georgetown University has made me dream again. I have dared again to dream. Only this time, I am ready to give it all.