QLC 16′ – Andrew Newman

Andrew Newman Interview – Worth a thousand words
by Ralf Yap

Photographs are snapshots of moments in time. This makes it all the more fascinating that pictures themselves are timeless in nature. Technology has enabled anyone to be a photographer. Our smartphones make it so simple and easy to take photos, and the prevalence of the internet makes it a catalyst for sharing them. The power of a photograph can sometimes be overlooked because of the advent of consumer technology and social media. I wanted to find out more about the impacts of photography and film, and who better to learn from than Andrew Newman.

Newman is a Fine Arts teacher and MUN director at John Burroughs School, and I asked him a few questions about himself and the way he feels about photography.


You’ve been to a number of QLCs. How have you seen the event change over the years?

If I had to summarize it in a nutshell I’d say the participants have become more invested in being the change they want to see in the world. The wonderful thing about the QLC is that it brings together amazingly talented presenters and participants, who, in an increasingly complicated world, are more aware of how their lives matter and desperately want to share and/or learn ideas and initiatives that can affect change in the world. Over the years more students at the QLC walk away with new skills and resources, which when combined with their own energy, curiosity and desire, is a recipe for success. We’ve seen tremendous success in outreach programs that grew their roots in the rooms of the QNCC, such as the Afghan Initiative which planted seeds for HELA, and PiMUN which to this day has donated over 40 used laptops to MUN students in LDCs.

You’ve travelled a long way from the USA to be here in Qatar. Is it worth it?
I do wrestle with the notion that I have a large carbon footprint coming all the way from Missouri, but I have sat in on Skype conference calls in large auditoriums and there is nothing like being physically present in a room full of energy where ideas are bouncing around and people are interacting with each other. I have made many wonderful connections and lasting relationships because after we meet in the QLCC our conversations continue at meals, in hotel lobbies, on Dhow boat cruises and on dune safaris. I can’t personally say that a Skype call has led to any lasting relationships. The shared memories of being a part of the QLC lasts a lifetime and is definitely worth the 15,000 miles and jet lag.

For students interested in photography, how would you link leadership and the creative arts? How can photography empower students? 

I have great respect for filmmakers who create documentaries, but I esteem photographers who often get just one frame to tell a story. There is tremendous power in the mind’s eye to communicate so much in so little space and affect so many people. I would argue that war photographers (Nick Ut and Larry Burrows) helped bring an end to the Vietnam war with a camera, not a gun. I would argue that a landscape photographer (Ansel Adams) helped preserve a natural resource and helped create the national park system as we see it today in the United States. Time will tell how the recent picture of Omran Daqneesh sitting in an ambulance chair in Aleppo will help put an end to the horrors in Syria.

I send my students off to even the simplest of assignments with the notion that, with camera in hand, they are empowered with the oath of photojournalists to give a truthful and faithful representation of images to the public. There is great leadership potential in following that code of ethics. It’s also really powerful to have a visual voice and equally exciting to try to be in the right place at the right time to capture a great image.

What makes QLC an important professional development experience for students?
I believe the conference is a unique and powerful opportunity for students to come together and share ideas. It’s a think tank in many ways where you can listen and gain new knowledge about topics you are curious about or where you can bounce your own ideas off other people. Working and trying to solve our global challenges will come from educating our youth and the QLC is an extraordinary venue for that to happen. Programs like QLC develop skills in our future leaders, instill ideas in their minds, and sets them on a path to helping make the world a better place for all of us.

Besides MUN and the QLC, what do you love most about Doha?

I LOVE the Islamic Art Museum and staring at I.M. Pei’s design and the light that falls on the building. I love walking in the Souq and interacting with people. I love being with my students who are in Doha and the Middle East for the first time and taking everything in with wide-eyed wonder. I actually love getting less than 4 hours of sleep a night during QLC because I’d hate to miss out on any opportunity of reconnecting with friends and colleagues who I’ve met through the THIMUN/Qatar Foundations.

Andrew Newman Interview – Worth a thousand words
by Ralf Yap