As president of GU-Q’s Qatari student club, Dana Darwish organized various activities to engage international students with the local culture and heritage
As talks about inclusivity and diversity become all the more important in light of recent global events, Qatar Foundation graduate Dana Darwish looks back at her four years of undergraduate life and feels proud to have organized opportunities to bring together student groups from different backgrounds and ethnicities.
Darwish, a graduate of Qatar Foundation (QF) partner university Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q), served as the president of Al Liwan Qatari Student Club and used the position to foster greater connections and empathy among fellow students.
“My main target throughout the two years when I held the presidency of the club was to promote inclusion and engagement between the Qatari students and the non-Qatari students—both international students and residents of Qatar,” said Darwish.
I felt like there was a gap in the interaction between different communities, so we tried to use the club as a bridge between them
“I felt like there was a gap in the interaction between different communities, so we tried to use the club as a bridge between them, to promote inclusivity, empathy, and feelings of belonging, especially for international students.”
Darwish organized several activities at GU-Q as part of the club, including festivities for Qatar National Day, events showcasing traditional cuisines and cultures, and discussions with guest speakers on different relevant topics.
According to Darwish, organizing local cultural events in Education City, which hosts six American universities, is an important avenue to enhance student learning with a mix of local and international learning opportunities.
“When you are in Education City, you receive a Western education and exposure to Western culture similar to those in the main campuses in the US. So when you complement that experience with exposure to not only Qatari national culture but also ethnic cultures of other countries, it’s very enriching and yields greater conversations around inclusivity and coexistence,” Darwish added.
Darwish’s passion for her culture is also emphasized by her love for the Arabic language and culture. In addition to her major in Culture and Politics, she pursued a minor in Arabic and a certificate in Arab and Regional Studies. She was also a member of GU-Q’s Arabic Debate Club, as well as QatarDebate, a QF entity dedicated to open dialogue and discussion in English and Arabic.
During an experiential tour of the National Museum of Qatar as part of her Arabic classes, Darwish saw how her degree in Culture and Politics come into play at national and cultural institutes.
Whether they are in language and history or theology and philosophy, you can tie them to anything ranging from political and global issues to your inner growth and self-development
“What made the tour so memorable was that I was literally able to see a reflection of my studies in the experience around the museum,” Darwish added. “I think that is what’s special about Georgetown classes. Whether they are in language and history or theology and philosophy, you can tie them to anything ranging from political and global issues to your inner growth and self-development.”
It was this desire to connect her education to real-life scenarios that made Darwish organize “Diplomat for a Day,” a program in celebration of International Women’s Day that took female Qatari students from GU-Q to shadow female ambassadors at different embassies in Doha. Eleven students participated in the program, spending a day at the offices of various heads of missions as well as the Doha offices of UNESCO and the International Organization for Migration.
Darwish herself shadowed the Ambassador of Canada to the State of Qatar and attended meetings with her at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies, and the Institut Français du Qatar.
“We all had very different experiences, went on different tours, and had different discussions with our given ambassadors. We got to see what our majors entail and what it's like in real life. You keep hearing that people who study foreign service want to become ambassadors or politicians, but we got to experience what that really means.”
Looking ahead, Darwish hopes to be working in a job that allows her to combine her love for academic research in culture and politics with international diplomacy or foreign service. She hopes to use such opportunities to improve Qatar’s standing in the international arena.
Pursue your passion so you can get to work in a field that you really love and enjoy. Pursue a career where you want to do something for the rest of your life
Darwish is one of the more than 1,600 students graduating this year at the QF Convocation virtual ceremony dedicated to Class of 2020 and 2021. As a message to her fellow graduates, Darwish said that she hopes her peers will continue resolving challenges around the world with perseverance and resilience.
“Just continue being persistent and staying true to your colors, no matter how hard it gets. It might be a cliché but pursue your passion so you can get to work in a field that you really love and enjoy. Pursue a career where you want to do something for the rest of your life. Pursue something where you know you can make a change and then stick to it,” she said.