Virginia Commonwealth University

Make it real.

With Camel, VCU Celebrates Qatar Day

March 1, 2011


Larisa Robinson
Capital News Service

Last October, VCU seniors Adele McClure and Amanda Schutt visited the Middle Eastern country of Qatar to see the university’s branch campus there and to discuss environmental initiatives.

While in Doha, McClure, president of the Student Government Association, and Schutt, founder of VCU Green Unity, got to see sand dunes, shop in foreign markets, enjoy exotic foods and ride camels.

On Tuesday, McClure, Schutt and others brought the sights and sounds of Qatar — and even a camel — to the Monroe Park campus for VCU Qatar Day. Hundreds of students, faculty and staff members, including some from VCU Qatar, attended the event on the Student Commons Plaza.

McClure said she was inspired by last fall’s visit to Qatar.

“We wanted to recreate our experiences here,” McClure said. “We wanted to allow people to interact with those who flew all the way over here … and to be aware of our international campus.”

Schutt admired the people she met in Doha.

“One thing that blew me away was the incredible hospitality rooted in what they do and how they treat their guests,” Schutt said.

To bring that hospitality to Richmond, Schutt and McClure invited 13 students, three staff and faculty members, and seven alumni from the Doha campus to interact and share their culture with Richmond students.

Participants at Tuesday’s event could get henna tattoos, have their names written in Arabic, have their photos taken while wearing Qatari garments, eat Qatari foods, see Qatari decorations and entertainment, and pet a live camel.

Sajan Moktan, a volunteer for the event, was impressed by the Qatari cuisine.

“The coffee is so delicious,” Moktan said. “The doughnut just melted into my mouth.”

The SGA senator was happy to have the experience. “I just love different cultures,” Moktan said.

Richmond and Qatar students appreciated the event. Farzana Hogue, SGA vice president in Doha, thought the event was a good way to bring students from all over closer together.

“I like how we get to meet everyone,” Hogue said. In a previous visit she made to Richmond, she didn’t talk to anyone outside of her group.

“I’m really happy to see that we all share a lot in common,” Hogue said.

She said she likes how the Richmond campus lets her walk around more.

“In Qatar, I want to move around and see the outside world more,” Hogue said.

During the celebration at the Commons, people experienced a taste of a world many didn’t know was connected to VCU. Dr. R. McKenna Brown, executive director of VCU’s Global Education Office, attended VCU Qatar Day in hopes of spreading international awareness.

“It’s a wonderful event,” Brown said. “We transformed the Commons Plaza for a day into a global experience.”

The Global Education Office coordinates VCU’s partnerships with universities around the world. Besides VCU Qatar, a branch of the School of the Arts, VCU has relationships with more than a dozen universities from China, Russia and England to India, Israel and Spain.

Brown said Global Education Office representatives have been meeting with VCU Qatar students on further collaborations. He also said Qatar is a good model for events with other international parts of VCU.

“We’re thinking of featuring each of the 15 international university partnerships on events like this,” Brown said.

Here is a slide show of photos taken by Larisa Robinson at VCU Qatar Day.