With the new academic year days away, 125 incoming undergraduate students representing 40 nationalities at Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q), a Qatar Foundation partner, took part in New Student Orientation (NSO), an engaging experience that welcomes new students and prepares them for a successful transition to college life.
During the week-long programme, students in the Class of 2026 explored academic offerings, learned about resources and support services, took entrance exams, and gained practical study skills students need to thrive at Georgetown. They also learned about Georgetown values and traditions and began building their student networks, a new focus of this year’s NSO.
“To help us identify the unique needs of an incoming class that has faced social and academic disruptions due to the pandemic, we worked with a team that included the valuable insights of current students with similar experiences,” said Uday Rosario, assistant director for Student Programmes. “The outcome of those efforts is what we are calling Engagement Week, to help students create a personal connection with the university, with Qatar, and with our active alumni networks within Qatar.”
International student Ilyass Ajdahim, who is joining GU-Q from Casablanca, Morocco, said: “I have been having an amazing time getting to know other admitted and current students at GU-Q. My academic advisers and deans have also been extremely helpful and are always happy to answer any questions I have. Everyone and everything at Georgetown has offered me nothing but support and warmth.”
NSO co-ordinator John Ewotu (GU-Q'24) said his own virtual transition from high school to college is what helped him reimagine the NSO experience, including lessons in cultural sensitivity and awareness. “Georgetown is a campus that takes pride in the diversity of its community. I believe it’s important to recognise the benefits and privileges of being able to study, live and learn in such a diverse community, but also to understand the responsibility that comes with living in diverse spaces.”
For NSO co-ordinator Jood Sheikh (GU-Q’25), the university’s holistic approach to education is key to building a solid foundation for future success. “The Georgetown experience is about much more than academics. Through the activities we planned, I wanted the incoming class to know that GU-Q has so many people supporting them and resources tailored to address their academic, professional, social and personal needs.”
“This year we also introduced a new programme called ‘Iktashif Qatar’ focused on introducing our community to Qatar's culture, economics and society as a means to integrate our community within the fabric of Qatar,” added Rosario.
The excitement of NSO was also driven by a host of fun activities, including a filmmaking session sponsored by the student-led Film Society, Qatari food tasting sponsored by GU-Q’s Al Liwan Qatari Student Association, and bowling at the HBKU student centre. Students also discovered Qatar’s rich history and iconic cultural landmarks through trips around Doha, a tour of a museum exhibit curated by the manager of Museum Exhibitions at Msheireb, Fahad al-Turky (GU-Q’10), and a desert safari.
The week culminated with convocation, a traditional ceremony where incoming students don caps and gowns for their formal induction into the Georgetown community of students, scholars and researchers.