A group of 18 students from the Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in Qatar, representing 12 nationalities will undertake a 12-day tour of Vietnam starting tomorrow. “The primary purpose of our trip is for doing community service in that country while at the same time learning about the life of the Vietnamese people and also to share our diverse experiences and cultural elements with them,” CMU’s Director of Student Activities and First Year Programmes David Stanfield said. The university official said there were misconceptions about the Middle East in some parts of the world and he hoped the tour would help clear some of them. He said another batch from the CMU-Q visited the northern region of Thailand in a similar mission last year.
In an interaction with the students at the Vietnamese embassy, Ambassador Phung The Long hoped the tour would give each of them a “memorable and wonderful” experience of a country they had only heard until now. “You would be able to gather how different people are and about their lives,” said the envoy. The ambassador also used the interactive session to clear some doubts that students had about his country. Long said their visit coincides with the 1,000th anniversary celebrations of the establishment of Hanoi city. “According to available records, our country has a history of about 4,000 years and you would probably come across some monuments built several centuries ago during the trip,” he told the students. “The country is also currently celebrating the 120th birth anniversary of the founding president of our country Ho Chi Minh,” he said. Vietnam is also celebrating the 35th anniversary of its reunification. Long said Vietnam currently holds the chairmanship of the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean), a powerful bloc representing the 10 nations of the region.
At the meeting, the ambassador also cleared several doubts the students had about Vietnam.
Long said Vietnam has opened missions in Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. “We established diplomatic ties with Qatar in 1993 and in 2008 we opened our embassy in Doha. Qatar set up its mission in Hanoi last year,” he said. “The two countries enjoy very good relations and Qatar is among our priority countries; last year’s volume of trade was $135mn – more than double of the previous year. Long also recalled the visits of HH the Prime Minister HE Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor al-Thani to Vietnam in 2008 and about the visit made by his country’s Prime Minister Nguyan Tan Dung to Qatar in December last year.
Besides the capital Hanoi and the historic Ho Chi Minh, the two main cities of Vietnam, the CMU-Q students would also tour Sa Pa and Lao Cai. They would carry out community project work in Sa Pa, where they would impart craft training to local women and children. “We will establish a crafts centre as part of our work and will also help them sell the products made at the centre,” said Student Development co-ordinator Darbi Roberts. Asked why the university chose Vietnam, Stanfield said he firmly believed the country was as safe as any other and he hoped the visit would help students get a really different and revealing experience.
The students touring Vietnam are Abdallah Darwish, Amal Osman, Ayah Abujarbou, El Houssain El Marabti, Fahad Islam, Hamsa al-Massri, Hussain Hejji, Maha al-Moghany, Mohamed al-Haddad, Shereen Sarieddine, Sumya Khandaker, Walied El Hag Ali, Benazir Anis, Layal Hasan, Omnia Shehabuddin, Shahneela Shaukat and Shashank Jariwala.
Besides Stanfield and Roberts, another teacher Yezenia Cadena-Malek is also accompanying the students
By Ramesh Mathew (Gulf Times, May 3, 2010)