Qatar Foundation International (QFI), a US-based member of Qatar Foundation (QF), and Philadelphia-based Global Exploration for Educators Organization (GEEO), recently arranged a US educator cultural immersion trip to Qatar and Oman. The trip saw 16 K-12 educators from 12 different states spend 10 days exploring a range of historical and cultural sites in the two countries.
In-country guides led the cohort through visits to different regions in each country while Angela Williams, Associate Director of the Middle Eastern Studies Center at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, led nightly discussions about how to take the knowledge and experiences from the trip back to the classroom.
Beginning with Qatar, the group toured the world-renowned Museum of Islamic Art designed by I.M. Pei, kayaked in the Al Thakira mangroves to see flamingos, watched news reporting at Al Jazeera, and visited QF Headquarters and Education City. They learned about Qatari dress and watched horses being trained at Al Shaqab – also a member of QF.
Then, flying from Doha to Muscat, the participants got an in-depth introduction to Omani culture and history at the Bait Al Zubair Museum. They drove to the coast to the Bimmah Sinkhole through the red rock formations to the Wadi Bani Khalid region, and visited Jabrin Castle in Ibra. The group had meals around a fire under the stars, listened to traditional music, and visited the last remaining shipyards that still build Oman’s dhows.
Kerry Dunne, one of the participants and a high school history teacher at Massachusetts, said: “This was my first visit to the Middle East, and it has certainly widened my perspective on our fascinating world.”
The trip aimed to encourage educators to integrate cultural and historical insights into educational strategies and tools. They will use their newly gained understanding of the region and incorporate their experiences in creating lesson plans, curricular units, and classroom activities, which will be shared with their peers through QFI’s QFI Resource Portal platform of K-12 resources. The next trip is planned for April 2019.