Sunday, January 3, 2010

Training and a Visit to the Souk

Today I met the entire LeaderShape Faculty. If today's interactions are an indication of what the week will be like -- I know it will be a success!

Even though the Institute is being held in Qatar there are still many similarities to those held in the US. For instance, we still had to find a way to get marker ink off the tables! (If this happens to you, use hand sanitizer to remove those unwanted stains!) See the movie below and picture above -- you should be a good laugh!

Another similarity is the LeaderShape snack grazing table! It arrived in Doha just as the training started and was full of the usual chips, apples, candy, drinks, and the like. Albeit some of the writing on the cans and bags was in was the same!

Also, I really believe I am going to love working with Dave. He is very easy going and has an incredible passion about leadership and a globalized society! I have enclosed some pictures of him showing off the student affairs suite in the Carnegie Mellon University Building.

One of the things I have been struck with since I have been here is the amount of building that is taking place and the unique and ornate structures that are being erected. It is not unusual to see neon lights, slanted architecture in the skylines, multi-colored glass, and metal work on the buildings. This is not just limited to the city, Education City in Doha is also very beautiful. We hosted the LeaderShape training in the Carnegie Mellon building today and the best way I can describe the facility is AMAZING! It is built with beautiful water features in the building as well as wood, stained glass, traverstine tiles, and is absolutely huge. There are incredible places for programming, state-of-the art classrooms with incredible technology access, and beautiful offices and general spaces. I have enclosed some pictures and only wish we had a portion of the money to build such facilities. The Texas A & M Building is in this area as well. I only got to see the outside of this building but will get a full tour after LeaderShape of this building and the others in the Education City.
After training and the tour Lindsay took me to the Souka for some shopping and dinner. It is a old open market that sells everything from clothing to shoes to material, food, and trinkets. It is amazing and comprised of a series of narrow alleyways that wind around through the entire area. It also has a number of restaurants and other local flavor. Tonight we watched them lift an inflated magic carpet type thing (It was huge and was lifted by a crane) for what we can only assume was a promotion for the Men's Qatar Open. (We are going to attend the last day of the finals and closing ceremony after LeaderShape.). We also saw a falcon market where the birds were tied to little artifical turf perches with little "hats" over their eyes. Apparently owning a falcon in this country is considered a status symbol. I also attached a picture of the Al Famar Mosque. It is located right outside the Souka.
Tomorrow morning we leave for the LeaderShape location -- about 40 minutes outside of Doha. The site is supposed to be magnificant. You can view it online at I have not seen it in person yet but I look forward to it. The learning community and cluster rooms are supposed to be amazing!
As I close the blog today I thought I would share with you a few things I have learned so far about Qatar.
1. Driving -- it is a sport here! People do not make left hand turns but instead they use roundabouts to turn around and head the opposite direction. Also, if you are in a 3 lane roundabout on the INSIDE lane and put your right turn signal on you have the right away to make a right hand turn through 3 lanes of traffic! YIKES!
2. Cars -- there are many different kinds here. (Rolls to Mercedes to Toyotas to Chevys). Many people have SUV-type vehicles too. I learned that leaving plastic on your car seats symbolizes the newness and is also a status symbol. I cannot imagine sitting on plastic in the summer!?
3. Mail -- Mail is not delivered to homes but is sent to PO Boxes. This is largely due to the fact that street signs did not exist until recently. In the past locations were give by directing people to turn at buildings or other structures.
4. Money -- The Qatar Riyal (QR) is the official currency. There are bills and coins but it is rare to receive coins as change. If you are owed change you typically receive a pack of gum instead of a coin. Also one QR is worth 3.64 US dollars.
5. Integrity -- If you find that you have forgotten your wallet or do not have enough money to pay for something it is not unusual to hear the shopkeeper tell you to come back later and pay. Imagine doing that in the US!?
6. Service Charge -- Local restaurants charge a service charge but it does not go to the wait staff, it goes to the owners. You are often reminded this so you do not forget to tip the waitstaff!
7. Toliets -- Everywhere you go you have to learn how the toliet works...Qatar was no exception. After searching for awhile, I realized you had to push the large silver box over the toliet to get it to flush! (see the picture above) Who knew!?
This is probably a good place to stop for tonight! Hope you are all doing well.

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