Communication students share cross-cultural exchange in Middle East

April 11, 2011

Six School of Communication students had the spring break of a lifetime, visiting the NU-Q campus in Doha, Qatar along with Department of Radio/Television/Film faculty members Debra Tolchinsky and Rebecca Gilman. The goal of the trip was to speak with the Qatar students about civic engagement in the arts, specifically in the media of film and theatre.

School of Communication students and faculty took issues of civic engagement to the students at NU-Q, Northwestern’s communication and journalism program in Doha, Qatar. From left: Evan Troost, David DeJong, Shannon Oliver-O'Neil, Jacqueline Reyno, Rebecca Gilman, Julie Sher, Andrew Glor, Debra Tolchinsky
School of Communication students and faculty took issues of civic engagement to the students at NU-Q, Northwestern's communication and journalism program in Doha, Qatar. From left: Evan Troost, David DeJong, Shannon Oliver-O'Neil, Jacqueline Reyno, Rebecca Gilman, Julie Sher, Andrew Glor, Debra Tolchinsky

"Our week was jam-packed," assistant professor Debra Tolchinsky said. "NU-E students sat in on NU-Q classes, went to the Souq [market], took a guided tour of the Museum of Islamic Art, a fabulous building designed by renowned architect I.M. Pei, took a dhow [Arab sailing vessel] trip along the Doha coastline, visited the Museum of Modern Arab Art, toured Education City, strolled the Corniche [waterfront promenade] and ate lots of amazing Arabic food."

NU-E students also brought documentation of the civic engagement work they do on the Evanston campus to share with NU-Q students. They brainstormed with faculty, NU-Q dean James Schwoch, and School of Communication dean Barbara O'Keefe about what the translation of such extra-curricular activities might look like in Doha.

"What I enjoyed the most was the immediate sense of community I felt with students of NU-Q as soon as I met them," said senior RTVF major David DeJong. "Hanging out with people who have grown up with completely different life experiences and on the opposite side of the globe than me, and yet having so much to talk about, really highlighted the diversity of the Northwestern identity."

Senior RTVF major Andrew Glor also enjoyed his first trip to the Middle East.

"I learned that there are very real challenges in the way communication and media are perceived amongst the families in the Arab world that send their kids to a school like NU-Q," Glor said. "There isn't as much of a developed industry yet, so for many it is a challenge to sell the idea to their parents - and to figure out what they themselves are going to do once they graduate. In spite of this, they are pioneering media studies in the region and creating some very interesting work."

- Emily Hiser Lobdell (WCAS97, GJ01)