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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Aggie Spirit abroad

Aggies lit candles and read the Roll Call for the Absent all over the world Tuesday night. In a time zone eight hours ahead of Central Standard Time, students at Texas A&M University at Qatar participated in Muster, many for the first time.
The ceremony focused more on the gathering and remembrance aspects of Muster rather than the Roll Call, according to the customs of the region. But the spirit of Muster was alive in this comparatively small student body.
“The first Muster held at Texas A&M at Qatar was in 2004,” said Emily Yates, a student development specialist at A&M Qatar. “Muster was a relatively small affair the first few years, with former students living in Doha making up most of the attendees. This year, our main focus was to promote Muster to our current students, particularly since Muster is one of the most important traditions to Texas A&M.”
Yates said student interest has increased because the students were involved in coordinating this year’s event. “Students have always been the drivers of Aggie traditions on the main campus, and that is something we continually strive for here,” Yates said.
Other Aggie traditions practiced at A&M Qatar include Aggie Rings; Run for the Ring; the Buck Weirus Spirit Award; Aggie Sports such as men’s and women’s basketball, men’s cricket and soccer; Student Engineers’ Council E-Day and Maroon Out. Unique to Qatar are the traditions of a Chili Cook-Off in the fall and traditional Iftar, or fast-breaking, meals hosted by the Student Body Government during Ramadan.
“We try to take the College Station model and apply it here when possible, and modify it if it is necessary,” Yates said. “We like to say that our department is like a miniature version of the Division of Student Affairs, offering the same programs and services.”
A&M Qatar is a branch of the main campus in College Station and is part of Qatar Foundation’s Education City campus, according to a summary statement from the A&M Qatar Office of Marketing and Communication. Undergraduate students can obtain degrees in chemical, electrical, mechanical and petroleum engineering, with the same curriculum and degree plan requirements as the College Station campus. The approach to education is modeled after the American system, and courses are taught in English and coeducational classrooms.
“While our educational model is an American one, we are a blend of Western and Arabic customs. Students learn about each culture, and are very respectful of the other culture,” said Robert Hensley, A&M-Qatar director of admissions and registrar.
The Foundation invited A&M to Education City because of its reputable engineering programs. Education City is comprised of six universities: Weill Cornell Medical College, Texas A&M University, Virginia Commonwealth University, Carnegie Mellon University, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and Northwestern University. Each of the universities provides departments for some of their most renowned programs.
The A&M engineering building, one of the largest and most advanced facilities for engineering education in the world, was opened in 2007. It has three lecture halls, 10 classrooms, 30 teaching laboratories and 32 research laboratories. Students attending A&M-Qatar hail from 32 countries. Qataris comprise half of the student body and students from Egypt, India, Lebanon and Iraq represent approximately 19 percent of the student body. Almost all of these students speak two or three languages, one of which is English, said Brady Creel, A&M-Qatar communications manager.
“One would think that there would be tension between those students from Western cultures and Arabic cultures, but the reality is one of a high degree of tolerance and interaction,” Hensley said. “The climate on our campus is one of cultural understanding coupled with a desire to learn about another culture for which one is not familiar.”
During spring break, a group of students from College Station participated in the Student Leadership Exchange program, in which they traveled to Qatar to interact with fellow Aggies and experience their culture. Most of these students were engineers, but some were students from other majors, including sophomore general studies major Doug Klembara.
“It’s a leadership exchange in the sense that we come back over here and share with people how amazing the Qatar Aggies are. Through my experiences, I found they were all incredibly friendly and amazing, and I’m trying portray that,” Klembara said. “That’s what the exchange is all about. It’s a mix of ideas where we can both come together and talk about different experiences and the way we live.”
thebatt.comWatch the Qatar photo slideshow and video online.

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