Distance, but little difference in two Northwestern campuses

March 17, 2011

Though more than 7,000 miles separate Doha from Evanston, Northwestern University’s two main campuses moved a little closer to one another last week thanks to a visit from a group of students and faculty members from Illinois.

Five students and two faculty members from Evanston visited Northwestern University in Qatar to exchange ideas on how each university can engage their local community through the arts.

The students shared ideas on everything from how Northwestern’s famed fundraiser “Dance Marathon” might work in Doha to how students could collaborate on films.

The students were also able to learn a bit about two distinct, but not all together different, Northwestern cultures.

“There’s the same level of academia that we’re used to,” said Jacqueline Reyno, a senior in the School of Communication’s radio, TV and film program, who visited Qatar. “But it’s much smaller student population so it’s much tighter knit. It reminds me a lot of the film community back in Evanston because there’s so few people you tend to know everyone you’re going to class with. So in a lot of ways it’s similar.”

Students from Evanston found that students from both campuses shared a passion for Northwestern and that both campuses offered a broad range of classes.

“It really feels like it is our campus in Doha,” said Julie Sher, a senior in the School of Communication’s radio, television and film program. “Northwestern in Qatar is just an extension of the same community that we have in Evanston.”

Northwestern University in Qatar junior Motasem Kalaji had the chance to show the Evanston students that, even though the campuses share certain culture and sense of community, Qatar offers a few things that Evanston does not – namely shisha and evenings spent drinking karak on the Cornice.

“We spent the nights driving around and just doing what we’d normally do,” Kalaji said. “The Evanston students were awesome.”

Kalaji has applied for both an extra-curricular trip to Evanston this May and for a semester abroad at the Evanston campus next year. He hopes to maintain the friendships he’s made with his Evanston classmates, a feeling that is mutual.

“It’s been so wonderful how welcoming everyone’s been,” said Sher. “Not just the administrators, but also the students have really welcomed us in to their circles. It’s just been a great experience that we’re very grateful for and we’re looking forward to when they come to Evanston in May that we can show them the same hospitality.”