Another year has passed here in Doha and I miss each of you every day.
I am so very fortunate to have a very fulfilling job while here. It is perhaps one of the best jobs I have ever had with all the professional growth opportunities I have been given. In Doha, we have branch campuses of some of the best universities in the Western world. Texas A&M, Carneige Mellon, Weill Cornell, Georgetown University, the Brookings Institute, University College London, Stenden University, Victoria Commonwealth University are just a few. Each one of these Universities has a mandate to reach out and connect with the larger community and because of this, I along with like-minded colleagues have been able to attend free lectures almost every week. Earlier this week, we had a talk from a University of Cambridge professor sponsored by UCL’s school of Archaeology (Everyday life in ancient Egypt). Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service offers free lectures that have expanded my understanding of the sectarian dynamics at play in the region. A recent lecture was ‘Five Bad Policy Options for Syria.’ People from all walks of life come to these free events – sometime because there is free food afterwards! – and we’ve connected with others in the community seeking intellectual challenges and growth.
Thursday was a good example. I attended an all day free seminar offered by the UK accredited School of Library and Information Science at UCL. At the seminar, librarians from all around the world (all living here in Doha), will be working together expanding our knowledge and improving our own instruction and assessment techniques. I have a driver from my college picking me up this morning and delivering me to the seminar, then picking me up at the end of the day. Lunch and coffee provided. No cost at all.
My employer has supported my research interests and routinely offers opportunities for employees to share best practices, enjoy success and better themselves.
Since arriving, I’ve been given professional growth opportunities here that I could only dream of at home.
We also have a very active group of Canadian Expatriates with monthly pub nights – that include the staff from our Embassy! As Canadians, we get together as much as we can socially. That is great comfort in having a common experience and background to share – even with new friends.
I’ve also been very fortunate with generous vacation time. Many of you know that I was in Mauritius in February, then twice in Turkey and in fall spent 10 days in Rhodes, Greece. Over Christmas time, I’ll be in Barcelona then heading out for a cruise to the Canary Islands, Tangier (Morocco) and visiting the Alhambra in southern Spin before returning back to Barcelona. There is a price to all this travel though. Christmas is not a holiday. It is just another day, as is New Years Day. So – it means taking vacation time to get the break that many of us just consider ‘normal.’ Every day I take as vacation in this part of the world means fewer days at home in Canada during the summer of 2016While my Christmas will be very different this year from yours (I’ll be on a cruise in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean between the Canary Islands and Spain), I will be thinking very much of you and wishing I too could share the season with you. Trying to have some of that Christmas feeling in my living space, I’ve got my own little ‘Charlie Brown’ Christmas tree. The poor little thing was bought second hand from a family leaving last year. The decorations are mostly hand-me-downs with some recent additions from IKEA Qatar (yes, there is ‘seasonal’ decorations there, but nothing representing Christianity!) I’ve attached a picture for your amusement.
I hope your Christmas and New Year is full of family and friends and the warmth that brings.
Merry Christmas and hopefully, if you’re in Calgary, I’ll see you this summer!