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April 19: "Hazawi: Stories from Everywhere" Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar hosts book launch event


Noha Al Afifi
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"Hazawi: Stories from Everywhere"
Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar hosts book launch event

DOHA, QATAR—"Hazawi," the word used in the Arabian Gulf dialect stories, is a volume of essays and illustrated poems that features pieces by Education City students, alumni and educators from various institutions across Qatar. The bilingual book is the latest contribution to the increasing efforts to document and witness the experiences of people who live, work and study in Doha at this great time of change which began in 2008 with the first volume of the Qatar Narratives series. As Qatar is a country with growing body of documentation of its history, this book provides an opportunity for students, and educators, residents, and citizens to reflect and share their perspectives with a wider audience.

Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar hosted the book launch for "Hazawi" Sunday, April 18. The book was a collaboration between Silvia Pessoa, Ph.D., of Carnegie Mellon Qatar; Mohana Rajakumar, Ph.D., of Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing; and Halim Choueriry, formerly of Virginia Commonwealth Qatar.

"We are all very interested in involving people in writing to document their voices and document Qatar's history and development. There is so much going on in this country but there is very little documentation of it. We wanted to get the participants in all of this change together to share their voices." says Pessoa, a professor at Carnegie Mellon Qatar.

As the fourth title in the Qatar Narratives series, "Hazawi" contributes to a growing body of work by the residents and citizens of Qatar. The first three books in the Qatar Narrative series feature essays and photography by residents and citizens living in Qatar from a variety of professional backgrounds and interests. Series creator, Rajakumar began the series as part of an interest in promoting a community of writers and readers. This title builds on that theme by adding voices of migrant workers. "These people have contributed so much to the development of this country but are in the margins of society. We wanted to bring their voices out," says Pessoa.

"Hazawi" consists of three sections that aim to portray the social dynamics in Qatar, particularly in the educational context: Stories from the Center, Stories from the Margins and Stories from In Between. Students are at the center of a student-centered educational environment and at the same time at the center of the continuous modernization and changes going on in Qatar, with many, receiving great benefits, and thus, being literally in the center. These students narrate stories of Qatar's past, present and future, with the aim of preserving Qatar's history and identity while embracing Qatar's development and progress in both words and also using graphic design elements.

Alternatively a group of students in this project interviewed the laborers in Qatar, thereby entering into the margins of the social framework. The book also includes perspectives from those who work with students directly: faculty at the various institutions in Qatar. In a physical sense this space can be described as in between those who are in the center — the students — and those who serve them — the laborers.

Stories from the Margins: This section includes essays written by students at Carnegie Mellon Qatar foregrounding interviews with guest workers in Qatar. Edited by Silvia Pessoa, Ph.D., these essays were selected from projects written by students in a course entitled Linguistic and Social Aspects of Immigration, which Pessoa teaches.

Stories from In Between: This section features essays written by educators in Qatar who talk about their experience working with students in the Qatari context.  Edited by Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar, Ph.D., the creative non-fiction pieces in this section feature social commentary about aspects or incidents of working with undergraduate students. Altogether the essays reflect on what it means to be an expatriate educator/academic/researcher in Qatar. 

Stories from the Center: This section features essays conveyed via a mixture of text and graphic art of Qatar's past and present by students at Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar. These stories were selected from a series of two previous publications, entitled Rituals and Hazawi, which is what gave our series its name.

"Hazawi" — the fourth volume of Qatar Narratives — is a grant project and available free copies can be obtained by contacting Silvia Pessoa at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar. "Qatar Narratives," "Qatar: Then and Now" and "Dreesha," volumes 1-3 in the series, can be purchased at Virgin Megastores.