By Mariam Al Thani:
The moment I joined the Origins of Doha and Qatar project it was made abundantly clear to me how pertinent community engagement is to the sustainability and success of the project. As a group we decided that it would be worthwhile to introduce school children to our project, and through them we would be able to engage with their parents. As such we began contacting local schools around Qatar, and designed specific activities targeting children 8 to 11 year olds.
We’ve completed successful school programs with three international schools here in Qatar; Compass International School, Sherborne School, and Qatar Academy. All three sessions were extremely successful; the children were extremely enthusiastic, engaged, they were able to retain a lot of information, and they gained knowledge about where and how Qataris lived in the past. In turn, we as a group gained knowledge from the school sessions we conducted, specifically from the questions that some of the school children asked us.
For instance, they asked about sewage systems, financial institutions, objects and how to date them… etc. Their questions prompted us to adjust our sessions to account for these questions. They also they gave us an idea of what their interests were, which allowed us to design our programs towards their interests, in order to engage with them more significantly. With each school session we conducted the children we engaged with, and were extremely enthusiastic and excited by the subject matter. They were excited to share their own knowledge about the development of Qatar and were eager to hear more. They were fascinated by the growth of Doha, from a small village in 1860 to growing 3000 times in size in present day. They were also extremely interested in learning about the way of life in ‘Old Doha;’ how and where people lived, how they travelled, what they ate… etc.
We were able to share a lot of information with them during our sessions, and their enthusiasm and inquisitiveness allowed us to impart upon them more information. We have had a wonderful time engaging with school children, and hope to continue to do so in the future.
We also had the opportunity to take the group from Compass International School to our test trenches in Fuwairit, and despite the fact that the team had only begun excavating and there was not much to see, the children were nevertheless enthusiastic and excited to see the process we had discussed with them in action. On account of the success of our first site visit, we hope to be able to organise more site visits with various local schools, and conduct some open days for public visits.