Every year, students at Georgetown University in Qatar’s School of Foreign Service travel to post-conflict society such as Israel, Palestine, Rwanda and East Timor. Why? To broaden the students’ perspectives on what they have been learning and experience first-hand encounter with survivors, politicians and journalist who were there during the struggle.
Last academic year, around 15-25 students had the opportunity to visit post-holocaust countries of Germany and Poland, as well as studying Cambodian society after the Khmer Rouge society.
Sheena Martinez, the program’s director, explained how the program has been extremely successful. Martinez are looking for exemplary students who can represent Georgetown abroad, as well as passionate students who will participate in discussions with important members of government.
Mohammed Harb, a Culture & Politics Senior at Georgetown, recalls the overwhelming experience of meeting Lydia – a Holocaust survivor. Lydia was five when the Nazi regime confiscated her parents’ property in her native Belarus. What Harb found most touching was not only her story, but also how she has became so desensitized about her heartbreaking past.
Students also get to witness things they wouldn’t have the opportunity to in the classroom. For example, on the trip to Germany, students found it odd that the German Parliamentary building is the only building in Berlin with the German flag erected later; they found from the locals that Germans are still struggling with the question of identity. They don’t want to remember of their tragic past and are discourage from raising their flags.
Future trips for Zones of Conflict, Zones of Peace will look into Northern Ireland and South Africa. The latter, Martinez noted, would be interesting to study, as the students will be looking how sports are used in reconstructing South Africa’s post-apartheid society.
By: Afif Haitsam