Thursday, May 15, 2008

Carnegie Mellon Qatar on PBS

Tomorrow PBS will feature a show on Education City, to be shown at 8:30pm (EDT) local time in Pittsburgh. (Check out PBS Website for local showtimes- Looks like the show will air on Channel 11 in Chicago on Sunday, May 18 at 12 noon CDT.)

The program entitled, "Should American universities be trying to win over young hearts and minds in the Middle East?"should feature a good amount of Carnegie Mellon Qatar and our students. However, I'm wary about what angle the show may take.

The title of the program alone makes me suspicious about their portrayal of our campus. However, a recent story Dean Thorpe told at Carnegie Mellon Qatar's first graduation also leads me to believe the story may not be entirely favorable.

As the graduation ceremony wrapped up, Dean Thorpe offered true story with a bit of random advice attached. He cautioned the students, whom we fully anticipate to be the leaders of tomorrow, that when they encounter media and the press, to be prepared for 'ambush journalism'. He said a camera crew from the States was in a few weeks ago and brought all their lights and cameras into his office and 'just wanted to ask a few questions'. So after the normal niceties and the usual questions, they sprung on him a question something along the lines of 'How would you respond to the accusation that you are taking away good educational resources from your home campus and/or America?'

Uh. Um.

He said he responded something about how this campus offers our students and faculty a chance to be exposed to different cultures, to become more active and engaged in world affairs, and be better global citizens when they rotate back into the Pittsburgh campus.

I understand he had to come up with that on the spot, in front of a rolling camera, and needed to address the issues related to the 'accusation'. However, as one not intending to 'roll' back into the Pittsburgh campus or for those faculty not from the Pittsburgh campus, this is a bit of a stretch. I'd would have to joke and say I'm here as an immigrant worker, seeking opportunities not available to me in the United States.

But getting back to the PBS show, I'm curious how they will present Education City. How they will bring up or address hostile comments towards our community and if they will embrace the idea that education is crucial ending the ignorance, hostility, and unrest that permeates this region. (Check out Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin's Three Cups of Tea for another take on the importance of education).

1 comment:

  1. Three Cups of Tea is one of my favorite books! I wish the world would read it.