Culture permeates everything we do, who we are, and how we view the world. So when I hear about someone purposely seeking to educate themselves about a culture different from their own I am excited to hear about their findings. I believe that getting out of our box can only help to create life-changing experiences, tweaking our perceptive and the perspectives of generations to come. It’s this type of self-reflection that lends itself to new educational opportunities and challenges us to connect with people who appear different from ourselves. It can be as simple as trying a new restaurant or as exciting as traveling to a new country. By getting out of our comfort zone we dare to uncover a new world of possibilities and make it okay for our kids to do the same.
My dear college friend, Johanna or Hanna as we call her, has certainly taken that challenge to heart. Hanna is nothing short of a vibrant, jovial Texan. A heart of gold and a passion for the nuances of the English language, Hanna is currently on leave from the University of Houston’s Language and Culture Center to teach English at The Community College of Qatar [CCQ]. That’s right, she’s living and working on the other side of the world where her ESL skills are put to the test, and she’s loving every minute of it! It’s the exact place where her love of culture and education sync up in perfect harmony.
Read how Hanna eloquently describes her new experiences, relishing in the history and diversity of the Qatar Souq Market and its parallels to her Qatari classroom:
I saunter through the souq , with its twists of alleys and exposed earthen walls and spices perfuming the air. The souq is modern construction of the ancient, a marketplace open to sun-soaked skies and all who shop its wares.
It is a meeting place, a converging of nations, brought together in the singular quest of pursuit. We souq-seekers are searching for something: Turkish lamps, so finely and intricately cut brasses and tins wreathed in light that your breath is lost in the viewing; spices and perfumes and ouds that bewitch; hummus and cheeses of halloumi, fresh grilled, with mint and Arabic coffee, that make the mouth melt with anticipation. A tambourine. Pearls of Qatar.
My smile of realization grows. The souq is not unlike my Qatari classroom. Our tile hallways turn and twist and lead to sun-lit classroom caves, our students’ heels clack-clicking like their chatter between classes. They know the secrets, our students do, of the highly guarded fragrances of the East, perfuming our campus and their papers and tests with their mystery and allure. We come together, our students and their teachers, and meet at CCQ. We are a souq of knowledge. We search for answers. We ask questions. We pursue. We educate. We are educated.
We are a convergence of nations. As we interact, we learn. We learn of each other, our cultures, our beauty, our languages, our shared experiences of life at the college. Our students are pearls, each one rare and beautiful and truly unique, and we teachers are challenged to refine and polish. To cultivate. We are a faculty diverse in discipline, united in professionalism, with strengths and abilities as unique and highly crafted as the finest of the souq’s luxuries. Together, we are pearls of Qatar. We are CCQ.
[Johanna Campbell is a second-year teacher of English as a Second Language at the Community College of Qatar. She holds a Masters in Applied English Linguistics from the University of Houston, where she is currently on leave of absence from the Language and Culture Center. She has been in the ESL field since 1999.]
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Christine Terry, B.A., J.D., is the Founder & Owner of Terry Tutors, a Private Tutoring, Family Coaching, and Education Advocacy service dedicated to supporting the whole student. She writes this blog as an effort to help Moms & Dads Navigate Generation Z, Honestly. Want to Know More? Head on over to TerryTutors.com