Northwestern Qatar Experience

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Local Stories, Global Experience

An interview with Mary Jessy Milena Uwikuzo Kaligirwa, an undergraduate research fellow studying the mental health of international students

You’re a research fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in the Global South (#IAS_NUQ), Northwestern’s new research center. What project are you pursuing?

“I’m studying the mental health of international students, focusing on students who—like me—were born in Rwanda and attend university in another country. I’m asking: What impact do different countries have on their mental health? Do they get the help and support they deserve? How can we best assist them? I’m exploring a range of issues: culture change, discrimination, financial inequality, racism, and genocide background. In its final form, the project will give a platform for international students to share their stories.”

What impact do you hope your work will have?

“I can imagine a global and a local—to me!—impact. Globally, if we can understand mental health through the eyes of international students, then parents and academic institutions can better help them thrive. In Rwanda, I’d like to contribute to the conversation about mental health in young people, which is fresh and relevant.”

How does #IAS_NUQ support you?

“The faculty and staff at #IAS_NUQ were there from the start—and they’re still helping me refine my work. The center provides financial and material support as well as the guidance, skills, and knowledge required to successfully complete this research. To me, this is what Northwestern Qatar does so well: gives students access to real-world experiences that help us succeed.”



with fellowships at the Institute for Advanced Study in the Global South in 2022.



throughout Northwestern Qatar.



at Northwestern University.


New Directions

A student-led festival generates creative approaches to timeless themes

The challenge: During a 48-hour period, students work with peers and mentors to produce creative works that address a single theme (Borders and Boundaries, Legacy and Promise, or—most recently—Love Languages).

The result: Northwestern Qatar’s annual Creative Media Festival, a student-guided celebration of creativity, collaboration, and innovation.

A team of students, led by Jannah Collado, produced the Love Languages version of the festival. “We wanted students to go beyond what they know and defamiliarize themselves with the concept of love,” says Collado.

The final showcase featured a wide range of compelling works. Shaikha Khalifa Al Thani and Noora Abdulrahman Al Thani produced an anamorphic installation that focused on the father-daughter relationship and unseen aspects of affection in the Qatari culture. Sifr Dimachkie presented five visual poems that examined the yearning for physical connection during the pandemic lockdowns. A group of students from the Afrowimbo Dance Group performed dances with traditional music and attire, joined by audience members, to promote love across the community.

Says Collado: “Every year, the festival gives us a chance to explore—and reinvent—issues through different cultures and contexts.”



to create work for the final showcase.



and still going strong.



work with students to develop their projects.


Speak Up

In a hands-on class, students produce compelling podcasts—part of a podcast boom at Northwestern Qatar

Digital Podcast Production is more than a class—it’s a new media workshop.

Guided by Professor Spencer Striker, students in the class have produced dozens of episodes of two shows. Qandid Qatar delves into complicated contemporary issues, giving voice to people in the university community—and beyond. Qatar in Quotes focuses on “ordinary people with extraordinary stories.”

Striker says that the class is “a hands-on, experiential learning practicum, in which students form an interdisciplinary team—a kind of student-run podcast studio—consisting of such focus areas as audio post-production, art, social media promotion, web design, and project management.”

The two shows are part of a podcast boom at Northwestern Qatar. Other student-led productions include Digital Doha, which explores the media landscape in the Middle East through conversations with local designers and media professionals, and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Philosophy, which examines social, political, and cultural topics through the lens of philosophy.

And then there’s the Science Journal, in which student hosts discuss the craft of science storytelling and tackle contemporary topics—from STEM education to science communication—with scholars, scientists, and journalists.

“The great thing about podcasts is that they help to democratize the production and access to scientific information and knowledge dissemination,” says Professor Anto Mohsin, who teaches science and technology studies.

“These podcasts illustrate what Northwestern Qatar is all about,” says Marwan M. Kraidy, dean and CEO of Northwestern Qatar. “We’re a community of scholars and storytellers, contributing to the production of knowledge through innovative media in the region and beyond.”



in Digital Podcast Production.



in development.



performed by students.