One year after being unable to speak a single sentence in English, Maryam Al Obaidly was confident enough in this language to address the public at a major learning festival – because of Qatar Academy for Science and Technology.
When Maryam Al Obaidly joined Qatar Academy for Science and Technology, she had plenty of confidence in her science skills – but the only obstacle that stood in front of her was the English language.
At the time, she says she was unable to utter a single phrase in English, a crucial aspect of the science-focused curriculum at the school, part of Qatar Foundation’s Pre-University Education. Just a year later, she was delivering a speech on female empowerment in English in front of an audience at Doha Learning Days, Qatar’s first experiential learning festival.
The Grade 10 student at Qatar Academy for Science and Technology (QAST) – says the school motivated her to learn the language in such rapid time. And it is only part of Maryam's inspiring story of how a Qatar Foundation education has opened up new horizons for her.
Passion for science
Maryam's passion for science and engineering began when she was a little girl, using Lego cubes to build towers and designing houses, and when she started school, she excelled in math. It led her to QAST, a specialized school established by QF with the aim of nurturing a generation of innovators capable of solving major challenges in Qatar and beyond.
Her mother Muneera says: “When I watched Maryam make geometric shapes of cubes and disassemble and rebuild toys, I felt she had a special talent, and I realized how she had a love for science and an ability to absorb and quickly understand knowledge.”
Maryam's development in her academic studies was accompanied by strengthening her passion for robotics, computer science and programming, which prompted her independent school to nominate her to join QAST.
“In Grade 6, I began to discover my passion for building things – scattered parts that I would collect and make something new from,” she says.
People said I had a talent for robotics and programming, and I learned that there was a school dedicated to students like me.
“People said I had a talent for robotics and programming, and I learned that there was a school dedicated to students like me, which would provide the environment that I was looking for, and through which I could develop my skills and achieve what I aspire to achieve in the future.
"The moment I entered QAST, everything around me strengthened my passion for science, starting with the design of the academy, laboratories, and halls, and curricula specialized in the fields of engineering, computer science, biomedical sciences, training courses, and research projects. It gave me the feeling that this place was designed for me and that boosted my confidence."
Her one concern was her English language skills, but it was a challenge she was determined to overcome with the support of QAST. Her teachers focused on developing her language skills, and strengthening them through communication activities, support, and motivation. Her mother also enrolled her in several English language courses outside of school and in the summer, while she practiced English in her daily life by watching movies, listening to music, and reading books, all of which accelerated her progress.
"Maryam progressed quickly and became more confident and more able to integrate and communicate,” says her mother. ‘Through QAST, she transformed from a shy girl to one with great boldness."
I want to make a change, and make my community proud of me.
Confidence and change
During Doha Learning days, organized by the World Innovation Summit for Education – a global initiative of QF - last November, Maryam had an experience which has had a great impact on her life and personality. She participated in the festival as a speaker, where she delivered a speech on female empowerment in the fields of STEM and the importance of women in science.
"Before I gave the speech, I was nervous as I was going to present an important topic in English, but within a few moments, the tension faded and I felt strong and confident," she says.
"I managed to attract the attention of the audience, and that took me back to the stage when I was unable to say even one English sentence in my school. I realized how much I had changed”.
With this confidence and her extended range of skills, Maryam is now focusing on how scientists created inventions that made a difference to the world – a question that raises her curiosity and pushes her to achieve her ambitions.
"I want to make a change, and make my community proud of me,” she said.
“I am very fortunate to be a student at QAST and learning within QF reinforces my ambition to join one of its partner universities as the next stage in realizing my academic and professional dreams.