By Renata Russo
Chair for English & ESL
Community College of Qatar
The Department of English and ESL at CCQ serves more than 80% of our students. As we begin our third year, we continue to involve faculty in working together to maintain our high standards of an American Community College. Our Faculty committees align our curricula across levels to foster students’ success in completing their college level courses. Many of our English & ESL faculty members have had experience teaching overseas allowing them to not only connect with our Qatari students, but to also teach content that is culturally sensitive.
Renata Russo has over 20 years of ESL-EFL teaching experience. She holds a Master’s Degree in TESOL and a Master’s Degree in Internet Technologies. She is currently writing her dissertation on GED graduates and their postsecondary success.
By Patrick Nguyen
Department Chair of Counseling & Advising
It’s been 2 years and 2 months since my first 14-hour nonstop flight to Qatar. I’ve worked for Houston Community College since 1999, and in May of 2010, I remember my mentor, Lucky Salinas walking through the door of my office. He dropped a piece of paper on a young counselor’s desk and said, “you should do this.” It was an email looking for HCC employees to help the nation of Qatar open their first community college. It took me two days of intense research on this small peninsula country and a lot of conversations with family, co-workers and friends before I drafted, proofed, and then rewrote my letter of intent.
It’s been a fun and extremely gratifying choice from the beginning. We started work the day after we landed at the Supreme Education Building, Qatar’s equivalent of the Department of Education; our campus was not ready yet. I remember talking to a young man dressed in an iron-pressed white thobe and traditional head wear. It was surely different; all of my past students have always worn what American teenagers wear. He wanted to enroll in college. He had unsuccessfully been to a local college and wanted another chance. His options were to work or study outside the country. He didn’t have another place to go, but he wanted to attend the Community College of Qatar. He didn’t know what degrees we offered, or how hard it was. He didn’t know what to expect or knew anyone who has been to the college before.
This was CCQ’s first enrollment period for the first semester. At that moment, I realized that he was no different from the 1000s of other students I saw in Houston. The students at CCQ want a second chance. Some have scored low in high school, some want to improve their English, some are tired of getting passed on for a job, or some felt they weren’t good enough for university.
Despite all the growing pains of a new college and the transition to a new home, I’ve certainly have learned so much in such a familiar and yet different place.
By John A. Moretta, Ph.D.
When I look back on the three years I will have been spent on behalf of HCC in Qatar at CCQ, I can return to HCC confident and pleased that I, along with many of my colleagues, most of whom did not come from HCC, have accomplished with great success on so many levels, the purpose of this initiative: to bring to an important region of the world an opportunity for its young citizens to obtain a college education in an American institution.
Much to my surprise and delight, from my first day in the classroom, my Qatari students not only welcomed and embraced me personally, but more importantly, the learning opportunity HCC entrusted me to bring them. From day one, they were eager to learn about United States history, a nation, a culture, and a people that they respect and admire very much, warts and all. I was pleased and impressed by their intellectual curiosity; their willingness to eschew stereotypes about Americans and our history; and most rewarding, they wanted the “truth” from me about US history; no sugar-coated pap about American exceptionalism, righteousness, and might. They proved to be too clever, too demanding for the truth, to well-informed for such bally-hoo and obfuscation.
Perhaps most personally fulfilling has been to watch the evolution of their analytical and interpretive skills; essential learning components for success in college, which most of them had only the most rudimentary ability. Such thinking was not encouraged or fostered in their secondary education and thus one of my most important charges and challenges, and I am sure that of my colleagues as well who teach academic courses, was to inculcate such thought processes to ensure our students academic success after leaving CCQ. By the end of their first semester with me I can honestly say that I had succeeded in instilling in them not only a desire for knowledge and a passion for learning in general, but the ability as well to think critically, analytically, and extrapolatively.
I can also say with great pride and satisfaction that my colleagues and I achieved this most important learning dynamic, especially with our first graduating class of this past May, all of whom were accepted to university, either to the national university, QU, or more impressively, to the Tier One US universities in Education City such as Carnegie-Mellon, Georgetown, and Virginia Commonwealth University. Some of our male graduates were accepted to universities in the UK and the United States (the Univ. of Arizona and Arizona State) and we have several of our December 2012 graduates accepted at both Arizona schools as well as to the University of North Texas. The fact that we have so many of our students wanting to finish their education in the United States is testimony writ large to the success of CCQ in bringing to young Qataris an appreciation for the value of an American education; a desire that would not have been possible without HCC’s presence in this most crucial, developing Arabian country.
John A. Moretta, Ph.D.
Professor of History
Chair, Social Sciences and Humanities
Community College of Qatar
Dr. Moretta is a long-time employee of Houston Community College; he is the author of several books, has lectured widely, and holds a Ph.D. from Rice University.
By Johanna Campbell
I saunter through the souq , with its twists of alleys and exposed earthen walls and spices perfuming the air. The souq is modern construction of the ancient, a marketplace open to sun-soaked skies and all who shop its wares.
It is a meeting place, a converging of nations, brought together in the singular quest of pursuit. We souq-seekers are searching for something: Turkish lamps, so finely and intricately cut brasses and tins wreathed in light that your breath is lost in the viewing; spices and perfumes and ouds that bewitch; hummus and cheeses of halloumi, fresh grilled, with mint and Arabic coffee, that make the mouth melt with anticipation. A tambourine. Pearls of Qatar.
My smile of realization grows. The souq is not unlike my Qatari classroom. Our tile hallways turn and twist and lead to sun-lit classroom caves, our students’ heels clack-clicking like their chatter between classes. They know the secrets, our students do, of the highly guarded fragrances of the East, perfuming our campus and their papers and tests with their mystery and allure. We come together, our students and their teachers, and meet at CCQ. We are a souq of knowledge. We search for answers. We ask questions. We pursue. We educate. We are educated.
We are a convergence of nations. As we interact, we learn. We learn of each other, our cultures, our beauty, our languages, our shared experiences of life at the college. Our students are pearls, each one rare and beautiful and truly unique, and we teachers are challenged to refine and polish. To cultivate. We are a faculty diverse in discipline, united in professionalism, with strengths and abilities as unique and highly crafted as the finest of the souq’s luxuries. Together, we are pearls of Qatar. We are CCQ.
Johanna Campbell is a second-year teacher of English as a Second Language at the Community College of Qatar. She holds a Masters in Applied English Linguistics from the University of Houston, where she is currently on leave of absence from the Language and Culture Center. She has been in the ESL field since 1999.
By Alfreda Haggard
I thought that Houston, and its public facilities, businesses, schools and restaurants was a place of diversity when I first moved there from the Midwest in 1990. However, working, living and dining in Doha tops it by far. Not only am I being exposed to and learning various new languages. In addition, I’m learning the dialects within these nations which are enriched by their local environment, spiritual and ancestral history. If my ancestors could see and hear me now!
Alfreda Haggard, Lab Associate for the Science Department, joined Community College of atar in 2011.
By Abdu lnassir Al Tamimi
So what exactly does a Community College in Qatar have in common with a University in Canberra, Australia? In addition to general education, Community Colleges like Universities have the ability to develop customized programs aimed at the betterment of new or emerging employment programs. With the tide changing and more educational programs being tailored to specific areas of employment, CCQ’s new department of Workforce Education and Community Development has implemented an innovative program geared towards Qatari men and women interested in the Customs arena. Dr. Abdulnasser Al-Tamimi, who is now the Associate Dean of the Department of Workforce Education and Community Development, explains how:
“We were approached by the General Directorate of Customs to build a tailor made custom’s program that would be recognized around the world. A program that would not only serve the state of Qatar, but with future goals of serving customs authorities in the Gulf and around the world. We initially looked for institutions in the US that we could partner with but could not find any that offers a degree in Customs Management. Luckily, we found what can arguably be the most recognized institute for programs modified to customs and to customs management- the Center for Customs and Excise Studies at the University of Canberra in Australia. The Center’s CEO is one of the top officials for the World Customs Organization (WCO) and will not only help us build a strong and well recognized program, but will assist the college, as part of the partnership agreement, in getting the program accredited by the World Customs Organization.”
CCQ’s Custom’s program is in fact, the college’s first Associate of Applied Science Degree and will encompass 30 hours of general education courses, followed by courses specifically modified to teach students the fundamental essentials of customs management and border control. Next, in the perceived future, students would then be able to transfer on to a select university to complete another two years of education and graduate with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Applied Technology, should they decide to do so. Of the universities being looked at, the University of Houston in Houston, Texas is being considered a viable candidate.
Currently, 40 students are enrolled, who are sponsored employees of the General Directorate of Customs in Qatar. The agency has stated they are willing to hire interested CCQ students and will sponsor a limited number in exchange that the students agree to work for the Customs agency after graduation.
This is the first of many new AAS programs to be developed at CCQ in the coming years that would help meet the workforce needs of the State of Qatar. Dr. Al-Tamimi (Associate Dean) is currently collaborating with the Ministry of Interior to implement an Associate of Applied Science in Telecommunications Technology as well as an AAS in Early Childhood Education requested by the Supreme Education Council.
Abdulnassir Al Tamimi, Ph.D. is Associate Dean of Workforce, Community College of Qatar. He has worked for Houston Community College and Lone Star College and joined CCQ in 2010. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin.
Gregory Twidel has worked at CCQ since 2011. He has years of experience in Qatar, having attended Qatar University. He serves as the Tutor Coordinator for CCQ.
Houston Community College assisted Community College of Qatar to begin its third academic year of 2012-2013.
“We are proud of our accomplishments thus far at CCQ — more than 940 Qatari students enrolled for the fall semester of 2012, and more than 80 HCC seconded faculty and staff are currently working at CCQ.”– Gigi Do
HCC Office of International Initiatives Executive Director
HCC Program Director for Community College of Qatar
The General Administration of Qatar Customs and the Community College of Qatar have signed a
Memorandum of Understanding to set up a teaching program.
“HCC’s Office of International Initiatives proudly introduces the new workforce program established at CCQ,” said Gigi Do, executive director of HCC’s Office of International Initiatives.
Here’s the official announcement:
The General Administration of Qatar Customs and the Community College of Qatar, signed a
Memorandum of Understanding to set up a teaching programme for Customs staff of the General
Administration of Qatar Customs under the title of “Associate Diploma in Applied Science /
Majoring in Customs Sciences” in order to boost the scientific competence of the staff and to
provide exceptional Customs Services to the pool of clients. The first party was represented by
H.E. Mr. Ahmed bin Ali Al Mohannadi General Director of Qatar’s General Administration of
Customs, whereas the second party was represented by Prof. Dr. Ibrahim bin Saleh Al Nuaimi,
Acting Chairman of the Community College. More details.
Are you a teacher qualified to teach English as a second language or do you know someone who is? Would you be interested in teaching overseas for a year as part of a very special project? If so, consider CCQ, the Community College of Qatar. The college needs qualified teachers of ESL who are interested in teaching at CCQ, located in Doha, Qatar.
This college is a special project with Houston Community College. Doha is an amazing city of high-rise buildings, diverse food and a mix of the cultures of the world. The students, all Qatari nationals, are a focus of academic courses and they need ESL instruction to help them succeed. Along with the strong HCC professors who have been working in Doha for up to two years already, we may need additional qualified, motivated instructors of ESL who are interested in relocating to Doha for a year or more.
For information about the possibilities, please contact Dr. Robert Ford, Incoming Associate Dean for Instruction at Robert.email@example.com or 713.718.7441; Ms. Gigi Do, Executive Director, Office of International Initiatives and Program Director, Community College of Qatar at firstname.lastname@example.org or 713.718.5058; or Ms. Veronica Medina, International Initiatives Liaison at email@example.com or 713.718.7441.
For more information on CCQ, go to http://sites.hccs.edu/qatar or http://www.ccq.edu.qa. For more information about HCC international projects, please go to the site of the HCC Office of International Initiatives: hccs.edu/international.