Texas A&M University at Qatar (Tamuq), a Qatar Foundation partner university, has published the ninth edition of Best Writing, which showcases the writing talents of the branch campus’s engineering students, staff and faculty.
The book features the writings in a variety of genres, from poetry, short stories, and personal essays to technical papers and research reports. The theme for the 2022 edition is Embracing Ambiguity.
During the book launch, several student authors read selections from their published pieces.
Petroleum engineering student Haya al-Naimi, who took the cover photo of a ladder leading up to the sky, explained how the Covid-19 lockdown made her look for interesting photo ideas around her house.
“When Qatar was under lockdown, I often had to take photo walks around my house and ended up seeing this arbitrary but beautiful ladder connected between my house and my neighbour’s,” she said. “I remember looking at the ladder and thinking, ‘If only this ladder led me to the sky.’ The sight of this ladder accompanied me for months in quarantine. However, it still presented itself as a lovely metaphor every time I saw it. It magnified my yearning to go somewhere miraculous, away from the insipid reality I was living in.”
For Fatima Ahmad Abuhaliqa, an electrical engineering junior, whose poem “It started with a secret” is featured in the book, writing is a way for her to express her vision through words.
She said: “My inspiration for my poem is bringing secrets into human form, which can be interpreted in many ways. It explores how our emotional state can change the meaning of something in our daily lives. I believe it relates to the theme of the book well, as it is ambiguous and yet it is something that we all know so well.”
Kushal Guptha Guruvasudevan, a chemical engineering sophomore, shared his story of being bullied in high school in his chapter, “My Name is Kush,” and his second contribution for the book, “Writing Wild,” talks about his challenges with the English language.
He said: “The first English course I took at Texas A&M at Qatar was called composition and rhetoric. I have feared the word ‘composition’ since high school. I don’t consider myself to be a great writer. But I received praise and positive feedback for my written work from my professor. And it was her support and encouragement that made me submit two pieces to Best Writing. I was so happy when both were accepted. Best Writing validated me as a writer.”
The book was first conceived as a way to show that Aggie engineers in Qatar excel at thinking creatively and critically, said Dr César O Malavé, dean of Tamuq.
Malavé said: “Since 2014, this book has proven that there’s more to engineers than just science and math: there’s also creativity, innovation and passion. Texas A&M at Qatar creates well-rounded engineers who will lead Qatar’s transformation into a modern, knowledge economy. As engineering leaders, our graduates must be able to talk about complex topics with confidence in multilingual, multicultural workplaces.”
For co-editors Dr Mary Queen and Sahar Mari, Best Writing is the result of a collaborative effort to create a community of writers and readers at Tamuq, one that transcends disciplines and positions to showcase writing and reading as central activities in developing a holistic engineering education.
Dr Queen said: “For me, the absolute best part of compiling each volume of Best Writing is having the privilege of immersing myself in all the stories, essays, poetry, and research papers that students have cared enough about to devote endless hours to crafting, revising, revising, and revising.
“To share in the result of that commitment is both an honour and a responsibility, which leads me to the second-best part of participating in the production of this book: collaborating with an extraordinary team of students, staff, and faculty who are also committed to fostering and making visible the creativity, ideas, experiences, and talent of Texas A&M at Qatar students.”