Over Spring Break, while some students were trying to catch a tan and others were at home catching up on sleep, C.J. Slicklen ’09, president of the Student Assembly, Adam Gay ’08, vice president for finance of the S.A, and Elan Greenberg ’08, former president and current at-large representative of the S.A., along with Dean of Students Kent Hubbell ’67, visited the Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar to initiate an ambassador program between Cornell’s campuses in Ithaca and Southwest Asia.
The program, called the Ithaca-Qatar Ambassadors, was first proposed to President David Skorton in November, and anticipates the arrival of approximately 20 students from Qatar to engage in an eight-week program comprised of trips to local and statewide locations of interest. The first group of students, which will arrive on June 1, has already been selected.
The small delegation of S.A. members and administrative advisors is considered the first of its kind to visit Doha, Qatar on behalf of Cornell’s Ithaca campus.
“This idea began when we were thinking about ways that the S.A. could continue to perform outreach both on campus and off campus,” Greenberg explained. “One of the many things that we thought about was engaging the pre-medical students at Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar. There seemed to be a strong connection between WCMC-Q and WCMC in New York, but there wasn’t as strong of a connection to the Ithaca campus of Cornell.”
According to the Ithaca-Qatar Ambassadors Mission Statement, “Ithaca-Qatar Ambassadors is committed to bridging the social and cultural barriers between the Ithaca, N.Y. and Doha, Qatar campuses of Cornell University.”
Students who partake in the exchange program, which is geared towards second year pre-medical students, will engage in research with resident faculty normally isolated from the students simply by distance.
The mission statement includes a set of three goals: enrich the experience of pre-medical students while visiting the United States, foster communication and facilitate student exchange, and increase the access of pre-medical students to the wealth of opportunities offered by the greater Cornell community in the region.
Students that complete the medical program at WCMC-Q will be able to apply to residency programs in the U.S.
Besides giving students from the WCMC-Q a chance to visit the Ithaca campus, the program gives students the opportunity to engage in areas of study outside of medicine.
“One of the things we learned about the pre-medical students was their intellectual curiosity. They wanted to diversify their education during their summer in Ithaca. One of the things we are trying to do to enrich their summer experience is to arrange discussions with prominent faculty in a variety of fields,” Greenberg said.
While the program itself began as a type of S.A. outreach, Greenberg said the ambassadors program will not continue to be dependent on the S.A.
“This idea has grown and changed considerably since its initial conception. When we discovered how much interest there was in engaging our counterparts in Qatar, we thought this program should develop independently of the S.A.”
However, Greenberg and Gay fully intend to continue their involvement in the program, focusing on development and awareness, until they graduate at the end of this semester.
When the delegation returned from their trip, they submitted a summary report about their visit to Qatar.
“We have so much information that we want to share with the rest of the Cornell community. We’re going to present our experiences to different areas of campus,” Greenberg said.
Overall, the delegation has high hopes for their program and for the visiting students from WCMC-Q whose lives the delegation is trying to positively impact.
“It is a very tangible step we are taking with this program, to try and further enrich the experiences of the pre-med students outside of the laboratory, which is where they spend most of their time during the day. Students that have come here in the past have had life changing experiences,” Gay said.
Hubbell agreed, “This is a terrific program and a lot of good will come from it. The connections that were made between students, staff and faculty were all very promising. I will continue to help whoever on either side wants to continue to facilitate connections; my role is an informal one. What we started here will continue to build positive relationships between the two campuses.”