Eight students to spend spring break at NU-Q

As finals week melts into spring break, eight lucky Medill students will escape winter in Chicago and head for a warmer and drier destination – the Northwestern campus in Qatar.

The Medill students, along with Assistant Director of Student Life Kristen Reid Salomon, leave Friday along with eight students and one staff member from the School of Communication. They will meet with students and faculty at NU-Qatar and will experience the sights and sounds of Doha, Qatar’s capital and largest city.

The eight Medill students were selected through a competitive application process in which more than 70 students applied for the fully-funded travel experience.

Qatar, a sovereign Arab emirate, is a peninsula surrounded by the Persian Gulf and its only border is with Saudi Arabia. Northwestern established a branch campus in 2008 at Education City, a community of educational and research institutions on the outskirts of Doha. NU-Q offers undergraduate degrees in communication and journalism.

The travel program is part of Medill's emphasis on preparing students to work in an international environment.

"We are committed to developing opportunities for Medill students to travel around the world, and our programs in Qatar and Israel this year allow many students to visit the Middle East for the first time," said Medill Dean Brad Hamm. "It's important for our students, an especially future journalists, to learn more about the world."

The visit to the Middle East will be an eye-opening experience, Salomon said.

“Just about all of them have never been to this part of the world and they'll probably be on the edge of their comfort zone,” Salomon said.

Getting out of her comfort zone is what most excites Kalina Silverman (BSJ16), who aspires to an international career in broadcast journalism.

Silverman, who founded and leads a group called the Mixed Race Student Coalition at Northwestern, said she’s excited to meet the NU-Q students and make connections with them.

“I'm always interested in finding out ways to bridge gaps and ways to dialogue between cultures,” she said.

Aric DiLalla (BSJ16), who will also travel with the group, said he’s eager for a new set of experiences. He has traveled to Europe before, but not the Middle East.

“I’m excited to see the varied cultures over the there and to learn more,” DiLalla said. “I'm just excited to kind of soak it all in.”

DiLalla’s second concentration is political science, and he has spent the past year and a half taking classes on topics such as international relations, transitions to democracy and globalization, he said. Those courses, along with his Medill courses where faculty often relate even local stories to international issues, and the specific preparation for the trip,provide a good foundation of knowledge to get the most out of the trip.

“This experience will be unlike any experience I've ever had before,” he said.