Hamad bin Khalifa University (HBKU), a member of Qatar Foundation (QF) for Education, Science and Community Development hosted 25 faculty, staff, and graduate students from Colorado State University from January 4th through 16th as part of HBKU’s Qatar Study Tour (QST) and Young Professionals Institute (YPI) programs. These programs, which are based on a partnership with graduate institutions in the United States and which are delivered by HBKU Student Affairs’ staff, serve to showcase how student affairs ideas transform education in Qatar.
Since their inception in 2010, the QST and YPI programs have enabled participants to broaden and exchange their knowledge, while extending their professional network and enhancing intercultural competence. QST participants gain insight into higher education and student affairs in Qatar by engaging with senior administrators from HBKU, its partner universities in Education City, and Qatar University. Participants are also invited to explore Education City as well as visiting many of the cultural sites in Doha during their stay.
The YPI program, an intensive 4-day learning experience, encourages graduate students from the collaborating institution in the United States to engage with an equal number of stakeholders from institutions in Qatar. Working in teams, participants research, discuss and tackle a wide range of student affairs issues; presenting their findings to directly contribute to more effective practices. Issues discussed this year included “Student Affairs Profession: A Job or a Career,” “Culturally Appropriate Student Activism,” “Challenges of Working in Start-Ups,” “Student Affairs Practices and Local Laws” and the “Internationalization of Higher Education and Student Affairs in the Arabian Gulf.”
Reflecting on the value of both initiatives, Dr. Khalid Al-Khanji, Vice President of Student Affairs at HBKU, emphasized: “Increasing the breadth of international understanding among student affairs professionals has the potential to open a new frontier and future for the field. The 2015 Qatar Study Tour and Young Professionals Institute was an innovative shared learning experience where educators from the United States and Qatar came together to understand student affairs and leadership at a deeper level.”
Blanche Hughes, Vice President of Student Affairs at Colorado State University, spoke about his experience with the initiative: “Colorado State University values our partnership and relationships with staff members at HBKU and the branch campuses. Our graduate students, staff, and faculty have thoroughly enjoyed the numerous cultural immersion activities, educational sessions, and engaging shadowing discussions during the QST and YPI to more effectively work with students in a global context.”