Qatar on Campus: Resnik's New Room

Qatar, pictured above, will be represented in Resnik House. (credit: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons) Qatar, pictured above, will be represented in Resnik House. (credit: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons) Credit: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons Credit: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Every year during spring break, students accepted into the Initiating Meaningful Pittsburgh and Qatar Ties (IMPAQT) program travel to Carnegie Mellon’s Qatar campus to interact with local students while socially and culturally experiencing the country. Through an initiative of Housing and Dining Services, however, all students will now have a unique chance to learn about Carnegie Mellon’s partner campus without even leaving Pittsburgh. Premiering in March, the Qatar Room will be centrally located in a dining space in Resnik House known as the “pod.” The room will offer glimpses of student life in Doha, Qatar and feature programs and activities between the two campuses. The room will also enable open communication through the use of programming and video conferencing.

The idea first originated when Kim Abel, director of Housing and Dining Services, listened to a talk by Renee Camerlengo, associate dean of Student Affairs, about the IMPAQT program between Carnegie Mellon and Qatar. Students who apply and are accepted into the program begin an 18-month long commitment culminating in a spring break trip to Qatar, as well as assisting in selecting the next group of students. Inspired, Abel spoke to both Camerlengo and Dean Tucker of Carnegie Mellon Qatar (CMU-Q) about the possibility of a dedicated space within the Pittsburgh campus where students could interact both visually and physically with students from Doha.

“It is our hope that when you walk in the space you will feel in some way that you have walked onto the Doha campus. We hope the furnishings, fixtures, and exhibits reflect the culture, programs, and people of CMU-Q. Renee Camerlengo and the IMPAQT students will provide ongoing assistance with creating ongoing and ever-changing displays,” Abel said. “It is also our hope that the students who visit the Pittsburgh campus from Doha will feel welcomed and enjoy seeing a part of CMU-Q in Pittsburgh.”

Turning this interaction into a reality has involved the commitment of Housing and Dining Services, students and staff from both campuses, and Media Technology Services to prepare the programming and video conferencing equipment. As part of the partner program, Tucker has also presented the idea of a partner “Pittsburgh” room to be located in Qatar. “There are hopes that this will become a joint programming space and a venue for students who are involved with IMPAQT to engage with students in Pittsburgh about life in Qatar. It should also be a comfortable reminder of home for students from the Qatar campus when they are visiting Pittsburgh,” said Bryan Koval, the housefellow for Resnik.

Mridula Nadamuni, a sophomore in biological sciences, had such a chance to meet several Qatari students on campus during the Odyssey Program for sophomores the first week of January.

“I think it’s a great idea because it will be one more step toward bridging the gap between the two campuses. It would be wonderful for students to have a similar experience in meeting Qatari students on campus,” Nadamuni said.

Tarik Raed, an alumnus of the IMPAQT program and a senior in business administration, agreed and commented that “through dialogue and exposure, the Qatar Room will help to bridge the gap between the two campuses and allow students to understand that the CMU community stretches across the globe. The room will give students, both in Pittsburgh and in Qatar, the opportunity to hear about each others’ experiences and connect in ways that they previously could not.”