Coming to Georgetown as a Qatari student, I thought GU-Q (and QF as a whole) would be the one place in Qatar where actual ethnic and racial representation is a must; I thought that GU-Q would finally be the one place where I could intermix with people from all around the world and different religious backgrounds. However, in my first week here, I realized the significance of the fountain’s placement in the atrium: a physical representation of the segregation between the Qatari students and the international students.
My awareness of this unconsciously set system of how students communicate and develop their ‘cliques’ made me confused and upset. Why would there be such a senseless and exclusive system in Georgetown? Is it intentional or strictly unconscious, making it far more threatening? Knowing how politically pretentious and well-educated the student body is, I presumed that there is no possible way that this upsetting societal structure could exist in Georgetown; that there is no chance segregation is an issue in a modern and acclaimed school.
Some may see the presence of the fountain as a mere architectural and aesthetically pleasing piece of the building, however, what is one both sides of the fountain holds a much greater concern seeing that it demonstrates the lack of national intermixing in the university, and the absence of cultural understanding outside of the classroom. I, being the annoying social butterfly that I am, tried my best to participate and be a part of the little cliques formed on the international side of the fountain.
At first, it was not easy dealing with the comments on ‘rich Qatari students,’ but sadly, that was always a comment that I received and have long felt the need to defend on behalf of my community. Nevertheless, one comment really struck me and I can never forget it. A student asked me where I am from, I thought it was obvious that I was Qatari since I fit the ‘requirements,’ looking the parts. When I asked why she thought I was not Qatari, she simply said “because you’re too nice.” If this does not put in perspective the nonexistent sense of actual community in Georgetown, I don’t know what does.
The importance of communion and social understanding in GU-Q is absolutely vital in acquiring the full promoted Georgetown experience. It is our duty as members of this community to seek social and political consciousness through having actual conversations and breaking the symbolic barrier of the fountain if we want change in the world around us. Learning is best achieved through experience, so why not experience outside of ourselves?