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DC-Doha Dialogues: Building Bridges Through Athletic Excellence

The DC-Doha Dialogues program was first introduced to me in the latter days of September as an initiative by Georgetown University to improve cross-campus communication between its two campuses, in the United States of America and in Qatar. Highlighting community engagement through sports, the official theme of the program was Sports, Culture, and Politics. Being a student-athlete myself, representing the Track and Field Club at Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q), the program felt like an incredible opportunity to learn more about how sports bring our communities together to hopefully implement some of it within our own Track and Field Club. In this pursuit, I tried to make my application video as creative as possible by referencing the YouTuber Casey Neistat’s videos as inspiration. My efforts bore fruit and I was selected to be a part of the group going to Washington, DC, in mid-November, visiting the main campus and learning as much as possible about sports and their role in student life.

From left to right: Dr. John Wright, Abdul Hannan, Shokhrukhbek Nurmatov, Rahema Velmi, Fuaad Ansaruddin, Abdullah Hussein, Yousuf Salem, Jibin Koshy

Accompanied by Dr. John Wright and Jibin Koshy who serve as the Director of Student Life and Educational Enrichment Manager at GU-Q respectively, we made sure to make the most of our week in DC by planning as many activities as possible within the limited timeframe. Our mornings would start at promptly 8 a.m. and we would head back to our hotel by 9 p.m., having spent the entire day out and about. We took part in a variety of activities that offered us the opportunity to speak to some of the most brilliant minds at Georgetown University and the greater DC area about sports and society. We learned how sports are structured and operated at Georgetown’s main campus through Lee Reed, the Director of Intercollegiate Athletics at Georgetown, and witnessed his work in action by attending the women’s volleyball, men’s basketball, and men’s soccer matches. Having observed the sports culture at Georgetown’s main campus, I have gained valuable insight into how to organize and plan sports and how to facilitate fostering a community around sports at our campus in Qatar.

Contributing to this point, Koshy added, “At GU-Q, we need to continue working towards fitness, commitment, and skill-building as the cornerstones of a successful sporting team. In a conversation with Lee Reed, he discussed how athletes are groomed through well-oiled machinery which allows many student-athletes to flourish, consequently enabling them to compete at the highest levels in the country. He also stated that most athletes are great students and perform at the highest levels both in academics and sports during season than during off-season. This is an interesting observation as it speaks volumes about the organizational and time management skills required to excel as a student-athlete. The DC-Doha Dialogue team is collectively looking into our areas of expertise and areas of growth to build a sustainable and foundational sporting culture within GUQ.”

Visiting Georgetown’s main campus was a whirlwind of emotions. There were moments of awe, fascination, and appreciation. While on the campus tour with the Special Assistant to Provost John Q. Pierce, who shared his comprehensive knowledge of the university’s history and landmarks, we learned about the deep-rooted history of the campus and its legacy. Throughout this tour, I had moments of internal reflection comparing what I observed on main campus to our campus in Qatar to appreciate it even more or to identify aspects of weakness. But as a whole, it made me carry a greater sense of pride to be a Hoya.

Trying to encapsulate our collective experience as a group of student-athletes from Doha, and my individual experience of being in the States for the first time into one article is nearly impossible. Coming back to Doha as a student of International Politics in Foreign Service and as an athlete representing the Track and Field Club, the insight I gained, the people I met, and the conversations I had will go on to help me beyond just my journey at Georgetown Qatar. As a student, the trip offered me an opportunity to practice diplomacy in my interactions with high-profile individuals and as a representative of Georgetown’s offshore campus in Doha, Qatar. As an athlete, the trip gave me a boost of motivation to work on myself even more by observing the skill level and dedication of the athletes at the main campus. I feel incredibly grateful for having had this opportunity and excited to share my experiences with my fellow colleagues through this article and through my personal conversations.

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