Thursday, March 31, 2011

Teach your children well

I am in Doha, drinking more tea (pretty soon this blog will become “Bulldogs who Drink Tea in places other than Iowa.)
Doha is simply wonderful. Everything Muscat lacks Doha has. (To be fair Doha has 150,000 Qataris, with 850,000 Expats who do things to serve them such as house work, construction, and education.)
Doha believes in education so much that it started something called Education City. We went there yesterday for lectures. I cannot convey how impressed I was. The notion of taking a bunch of your wealth, targeting specific universities for their specialties, and then saying “come, and we will build you a massive state-of-the-art world-renown campus. For Free. Bring some of your teachers and the classes they teach. We will send our kids, and anyone else who wants to go. Oh yea, and if your students stay in Qatar for 5 years working after they graduate, the whole education is free. Carneigie Melon does business, Northwestern journalism, Georgetown has their School for the Foreign Service, and someone else has medical and and humanities. Imagine how that Board of Trustees meeting went: So Qatar wants us to set up another branch campus. How much do you think it will cost to do that? 18 billion? Cool, here is the blank check they gave us, we just have to send some professors over there. All of this is paid for by the Qatar Foundation-the brain child of the Emir’s (countries leadership) second wife. The amount of spending here puts American grandiosity to shame. I was impressed. Really impressed. I was so impressed that I am kicking myself for not having known about this when I applying. (Technically I did found out about it at Orientation weekend, from a gentleman who I met up with again yesterday. He was the Dean of Georgetown Doha, dropping his son off at Drake. That shows you how good Drake is.) My father pointed out once when I was contemplating an international education (American University Cairo or Beirut) that so many students are trying to come to the US for education, I might as well get in my home country. He was right and I am glad I did. It was still marvelous to see and gave me thoughts of what our school system would look like if we (had and) put that kind of money towards education.
My other Drake highlight of the evening: after all the fun of being out at Education City listening to lectures on American policy and Arab revolutions, one gets tired. Therefore I found myself unwrapping one of the Cuban cigars (thank you Duty and Embargo-free Muscat Airport) and wandering down to the smoking area of our hotel (bar.) We were given strict orders not to drink by our AD, so I smiled at Jack, Morgan, and Johnny Walker and proceeded to ask the man sitting at the bar if he had a light. He tossed me a box of matches, and asked what I was drinking. I said a coke, he sent one my way and we got to talking. He was Scottish and had served time in the RAF in Oman, as well as Northern Ireland. We talked about the Troubles for a good half hour. A big thank you to Prof Kelly Shaw for teaching us a whole unit on the issues of Northern Ireland. I survived and had a wonderful conversation with the Scotsman. I was eventually joined by my other colleagues (one was another Bulldog) and we talked the night away. It was marvelous. Rarely do I find a practical use for what I was taught in high school. However, the things I am taught in this line of education at Drake are almost always put to use. Being able to have an enjoyable conversation and not sound like an idiot made my day. Pharmacists and actuaries have their work stations. Ours can be embassies, war rooms, or hotel bars. Diplomacy comes down to practicing something really simple: engaging people. Hearts and minds over Cubans and Coca-cola ? Perhaps. Thanks Drake!

1 comment:

Jane said...

Hi Ian, I have anxiously been waiting for more emails from you. Thanks for the last two emails. Food for thought. As with most things, easier said then done. How would you like to have 30+ years of stuff? It is called a gargage sale/tag in America. Ha Ha I will be having one this summer, follow the signs. Ha Ha Drake is well and the grass is turning green, finally. Students are out playing frisbies and laying on blankets in the sun. Our campus has been very busy with campus visits, over 40ty today. Lady Gaga is alive and well on our campus as there was a sighting of her by me walking by our building. I guess there was an assignment and then she just decided to keep on dressing like her. I guess she has a blog. Check it out if you want. Everyone is, over 88,000 people, are watching the bald eagle from Decorah, Iowa hatch three baby chicks. They have a web cam and any moment they will hatch. The babies have poked holes in their shells and so we are all watching anxiously for the results. As a mother, I hope all of them are healthy. Better go. Take care, be safe and happy. Later Jane

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