The 2022 FIFA World Cup served to be a very memorable experience for many around the world, whether they watched from the stadiums, fan zones, or simply the comfort of their homes. Likewise, many students at Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q) had the opportunity to not only enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime experience but also contribute to it through volunteering efforts. Below, Tayoung Chung ‘25 narrates her personal experience being a part of the 2022 WC.
FIFA: Riding the Metro from Downtown Tokyo to Doha
“Hi, where are you from?”
“I’m from Japan? How about you?”
“I’m ethnically Brazilian, but I’m based in the Netherlands. Do you want to become friends?”
“Sure! What’s your Whatsapp contact number?”
Initially riding the metro to Al Thumama Stadium from Lusail, I encountered one of my newfound friends on the way to the Qatar vs. Senegal match after an exhausting 7-hour shift from work. While I was initially surprised and touched by Paulo’s kindness from a short interaction on a train, I, from the taboo environment of talking to strangers on train rides in Tokyo, was socializing with a stranger in a new environment filled with joy and passion.
Albeit an irrelevant fact to many, as an East-Asian female, it is quite literally a big deal to break out of your shell and talk to a stranger on the train. While Tokyo can indeed be a vibrant city, I feel that I was at least a head taller than my Japanese counterparts as I walked through the hustling streets of places like Shibuya and Harajuku. My physique, however, wasn’t the only wall that often separated me from Japanese and Korean societies; my script when meeting new people always begins with an explanation of why my parents live in Japan, a clarification as to why I speak English despite being raised in a non-English speaking country, which is then justified by saying that I attended an American school in Tokyo.
In Doha (particularly during the FIFA period), these identity crises never mattered. Whether it was through volunteering at the FIFA pop-up stands at Lusail or in the stadiums, it felt as if Qatar had been a melting pot of different cultures and backgrounds from all over the world. For instance, when I rode the metro to Education City after a long day of work shifts, fans from all over the globe – Argentina, Brazil, Wales, South Korea, and Japan – celebrated their unexpected victories against other countries in different matches. Every so often at the most random times and places, I felt the immense energy of the stadiums and metro stations. Currently, I’ve come to see it as a collective feeling of everybody who lives, loves, and hustles in this city. To be quite frank, while it’s hard to describe in words, it felt extremely overwhelming and joyous.
While I was mostly occupied with volunteer and sales roles during the World Cup, I have seen the untapped possibilities that arise from working in a collaborative environment. Engaging with my fellow colleagues, as well as with diverse groups of people has shown me that sharing a goal with a group can bring passion, enthusiasm, and motivation. More importantly, I have seen how initiatives like these can encourage others to understand more about the Arab culture, lifting one another. I am happy to see where life would take Paulo and would be extremely grateful if I can talk to him in the Netherlands!
Ultimately, GU-Q students left their mark positively on the 2022 FIFA World Cup in a number of ways. Aday Shunushev ‘25 added, “I worked as a Liaison Assistant at Khalifa International Stadium during the FIFA World Cup 2022 as an intern for the FIFA TV Legacy Programme. I was able to meet wonderful people from all corners of the globe, gain knowledge in Sports and Broadcasting, help deliver the best World Cup in the 21st century, and just enjoy an amazing atmosphere. I am grateful for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that made my dream of being a part of a FIFA World Cup come true!”
Zahra Saboorzadeh of the Class of 2025 also remarked, “As someone who grew up in Doha waiting twelve years for this huge tournament to take place, I was one of the lucky few who had the chance to work alongside Host Broadcast Services (HBS) in broadcasting the matches for millions around the world to watch. My internship helped me gain a lot of knowledge about commentating and gave me insight into the behind-the-scenes of one of the biggest sporting events in the world. I don’t think any other experience could ever come close, since this truly was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I forever will be grateful for.”