Marhaba from Doha!

24 hours later, we made it to Doha. I’m represeting the US with another girl from Los Angeles here in Doha at Mercy Corps’ International Youth Gathering with what was supposed to be 19 other leaders from 10 different countries, Indonesia, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Haiti, the US, the UK, Iraq, and Pakistan. Last minute, the Haitian government decided that it wouldn’t allow the Haitian particpants to come, and the Gazans are still trapped at the border–They tried leaving on Thursday. It’s nearing Sunday evening now
in Doha. We’re hoping they can make it tomorrow, and we’re confident in the program leader, Reem Omran, who will make sure they break the siege to come to this international youth gathering.

The International gathering is comprised of leaders around the world in their communities, to learn how to “think global and act local”. Throughout the week we’ll be participating in leadership workshops, panels of speakers, “issue groups” and cultural learning, take back what we learn to our communities and make a difference. Mercy Corps is working with Reach Out to Asia, and the Qatar Foundation. Much of the program has been sponsored by people, businesses, and organizations that strongly believe that a better future can be built by the youth, and believe we’re worth investing in.

The program has kicked off on a great start. We learned about the communities in different countries where these students came from–The child labor that ravages Iraq, Pakistan, and Indonesia, the interfaith coexistence that is more prevalent than we’ve been told by the news, the overarching theme of poverty that plagues all countries, and inequality in education. A few students had stories to tell us that most of us would, and most likely will not experience in our lives–war, and the effect it has on their communities.

Qatar is the next big thing. Doha looks as if it’s just being built; every corner you look, there’s construction, but behind it is an amazing sky scraper with a blue lighting on one side that stretches diagonally, or shapes that makes you wonder how it stands, and Arabian buildings that look like they’ve been remodeled to resemble something like 2040 will look like. Education City is patterned with these building, and they’re where students from around the world go to college. Qatar is increasingly becoming one of the world’s wealthiest countries, and it’s investing it in two things: Infrastructure, and education. Both, will of course, only contribute to its growing prosperity.

I’m going to learn more. And when I do, I’ll continue writing it in this blog because the stories you learn from people are different from that of the media or books. It’s more real, and it’s something you can count on is the truth. Nonetheless, it makes these issues personal. Seeing Qatar is encouraging; it’s proof that in some places we are progressing, and these places will be the role models for the super powers in the world that will need to catch up. Watch out for FIFA 2014; Doha’s coming your way.

Sunday night, and the Palestinians haven’t made it yet. Inshallah, they’ll be here tomorrow. Reem will find a way.

Until tomorrow,

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