CMU works to keep its global community better connected

Despite being 7000 miles apart, the Pittsburgh and Qatar campuses are closer this week. Seven students from CMU?s first class of undergraduates at the Qatar campus are visiting us here in Pittsburgh, traveling around the globe to meet their Pennsylvania counterparts. This is the first trip students from the Qatar campus will have made to Pittsburgh.

During spring break, students, administrators, and trustees traveled from Pittsburgh to Doha for the inaugural celebration of the Qatar campus. This week, the Qatari students reciprocate. They will be touring the city ? a Mount Washington Incline ride, dinner in Shadyside, and time at the University are all on the itinerary. We know we speak on behalf of the campus when we say ?Welcome to Pittsburgh!?
While Carnegie Mellon has maintained a number of satellite branches over the years that each offer masters degrees, the new Qatar campus is entirely different. Receiving a Carnegie Mellon undergraduate education, these students are in every way our classmates. Their curriculum has been designed by Carnegie Mellon professors; their undergraduate experiences are being molded by Carnegie Mellon administrators and staff members. Furthermore, the number of Pittsburgh-based faculty that have moved to Qatar to teach there means that many of us have been taught by the same faculty.

Less than a year old, the Qatar campus is still developing and growing; these students are undoubtably hoping to learn more about how things work in Pittsburgh in order to improve things in Qatar. This curiosity runs in both directions, as there are plenty of Pittsburgh students who would love to learn more about what life is like for our Qatari classmates.

Trips like these are fantastic, but not exactly affordable for most students at either campus. Earlier in the year there was a videoconference for small group of students in Qatar and Pittsburgh. While videoconferences might allow for better communication in general, they are far from an ideal way to share information between the students of both campuses.

There are a number of ways to improve communication between the campuses. Students at both ends should have more opportunities to study abroad at the other. A standing scholarship to help pay transportation costs for any Pittsburgh students who want to spend a semester abroad in Qatar (or vice versa) would be a great step towards this goal. Also, we need to make sure that Pittsburgh students understand more about the Qatar Foundation and the Qatar campus. Regrettably, there is currently no exhibit or display on campus that explains the history and intention of the Qatar campus. More information would lead to a better understanding between the two campuses.

Perhaps the best way to improve communication between the two campuses is to let the Qatari students tell their own stories. We?d like to offer these seven students a chance to write about their experiences in a column to be published in next week?s Tartan.

More regular communication between students will be the best way for the two campuses to connect with each other; we look forward to hearing more from the Qatari students. Until then, we hope they enjoy their week in the ?Burgh.