gu-q-human-treeGeorgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q) launched of a new initiative on campus to bring Georgetown’s foundational Jesuit values of ‘community in diversity’ to the forefront of student services.

Cura Personalis, which is Latin for ‘caring for the whole person’, is the Georgetown motto that is at the heart of this initiative,’ said Dr Mahnaz Nowrozi Mousavi, Director of the Student Wellness and Counseling Center at GU-Q, the department that is responsible for student counseling as well as for fostering a positive campus environment for the entire school community. The Center operates under the student development department, which is also responsible for new admissions and student affairs.

The challenges faced by students coming together from different backgrounds are many, and often, unforeseen. Dr Mousavi said:

Sometimes offense is caused to others without intention, out of a misunderstanding that stems from having different backgrounds…so what we want to do here at the Wellness Center is to facilitate respectful dialogue and exchange, in order to be able to care for each other without losing our own unique identities.’

To date, GU-Q already has several diversity-minded programmes that cater to a student body that represents over 40 different countries. The student-run women’s center provides female students with a safe space to interact and network for socialisation, as well as career development opportunities.

GU-Q, also known as the School of Foreign Service in Qatar (SFS-Q), opened in Qatar in 2005 as a member of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development. The university is a branch campus of the Georgetown University Edmund A Walsh School of Foreign Service. Currently, GU-Q offers a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service degree with the ability to major in one of three fields: International Politics, Culture and Politics, and International Economics.

Two programmes, the Zones of Conflict, Zones of Peace and the Community Engagement, take groups of student volunteers out of the comfort zone of their school life to very different parts of the world for eye-opening experiences. Film screenings, book readings, and a rich calendar of speaking engagements with visiting artists, writers, and political leaders, all of which are also open to the public, also contribute to GU-Q’s diversity efforts.

A Student Development Officer at GU-Q, Saaliha Khan, said:

Our broad range of diversity initiatives are based on our student needs assessments, which help us identify the relevant issues and concerns…we need to build a respectful environment where we not only respect each other, but where we can also allow these differences to become our strengths.’

GU-Q has reorganidsed their diversity campaign to drive this idea home, with the introduction of The Humanity Tree, a visual representation of Georgetown’s entire diversity philosophy and a brand name suggested by one of their students, Badr Eddin Rahimah. According to GU-Q:

This diagram is rooted in our diversity-so the roots of the tree represent our different backgrounds, such as culture, nationality, and language. And the branches represent our different aspects of mind, body, spirit and aspiration. A diversity task force was also created to insure school-wide involvement, including faculty and staff.’

The newly envisioned diversity construct will be placed on the school’s library website, where all related resources will be placed relevant to each tree component. All related programming will stem, in a manner of speaking, from the Humanity Tree. The upcoming semester of new students launched this campaign with their contribution of a personally designed Cafe Ceramique tile reflecting the uniqueness of each student, a student orientation activity GU-Q has done for many years, by adding it to a humanity tree display. This new twist to an old tradition will continue with all future incoming freshmen.