University of Calgary

Postcard from Canada

July 2, 2009

When Afrah Moosa Saleh Ali arrived at Calgary International Airport, she was greeted by an Immigration Officer and a drug dog.  Canines are not Ali’s favourite creature; in fact, she is terrified of man’s best friend.  She was having second thoughts about entering Canada for the first time.  Presented with the alternative of making an immediate turnaround to her home in Doha, Qatar, Ali swallowed hard and decided she’d overlook her dog phobia and embrace her opportunity to visit the home of the University of Calgary.  She wouldn’t regret her decision.

Like many tourists before her, Ali's visit to Calgary included a trip to Banff.

Like many tourists before her, Afrah Moosa Saleh Ali's visit to Calgary included a trip to Banff.
Ali was selected from amongst nine of her peers to represent the University of Calgary – Qatar students at the Joint Oversight Board meeting, held in Calgary for the first time in May.  The privilege allowed Ali to see and touch snow for the first time, to visit the world renowned Rocky Mountains and to compare her height to that of a dinosaur skeleton during a visit to the Tyrell Museum in Drumheller, Alberta.

Attending the JOB meeting was an eye-opener for Ali.  “I felt very important because all the leaders on the board are working for us.  They want our student experience to be successful not only academically but socially and culturally,” says Ali.

The JOB discussed a variety of subjects including the first Qatar Convocation planned for next year and ensuring that the degree the Qatar students receive is accredited.

Snow isn't something Ali sees much of in Qatar.

Snow isn't something Afrah Moosa Saleh Ali sees much of in Qatar.
Ali gave a speech at the JOB meeting wherein she discussed how excited and honoured she was to be the ambassador of all Qatar students. “It is a wonderful opportunity to visit the Calgary campus and to talk with the students and faculty about life in Canada.” exclaimed Ali.  “I met so many interesting people and everyone was so gracious and hospitable,” she added. 

Ali was amazed at how friendly and supportive the students are at the Calgary campus despite its size, population and the large number of programs offered.  “I met an engineering student who was the recipient of a $50,000 scholarship.  She didn’t know me and yet she invited me to lunch and shared her student life stories with me.  Even though it’s a big campus, everyone is connected to each other,” stated Ali.

Ali also got to meet members of the Students’ Union, an organization that represents the student body and addresses all their needs and concerns in cooperation with the University’s Board of Directors.  Ali hopes that the information she gathered from the Calgary students will be beneficial in the Qatar student’s efforts to form their own association. 

Ali’s Canada trip also gave her a whole new appreciation of her home.  “I expected Canada to be years ahead of us in all aspects, and it is.  However, I believe Doha has also grown up.  We have world-class universities, like the University of Calgary.  Our education standards are improving steadily and Qatar students have a lot to look forward to.”

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