PROJECT-BASED AND EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING

Among my most challenging and rewarding experiences as an educator have been the extracurricular, team-based student projects I've had the privilege to mentor, which sought to serve an identified social need, benefit local communities, and contribute meaningfully to public scholarship. These extensive, student-driven projects cultivated intercultural competence, collaboration skills, research ethics and qualitative methods, social responsibility, diversity awareness, written and oral communication skills, and independent, self-directed learning.

 

"My Identity, My Story: A Qatari Folktale Workshop Series”

  • Sponsors: Qatar Heritage and Identity Centre and Katara Cultural Village

  • Project Manager: Autumn Watts

During this six-week community education workshop series, folklorists,  storytellers, and scholars delivered free public talks on Qatar's oral folklore, and equipped and mentored a team of university students as they endeavored to document folktales within their families and communities. In my role as Project Manager, I created the project; drafted the budget; visited community partners and local universities to invite participants; wrote press releases; recruited and facilitated speakers; organized facilities, catering, and media; led workshops; and mentored students over the following weeks as they conducted independent research, culminating in a public celebration honoring the contributions of our project mentors, storytellers, and students.

 

TUBERCULOSIS: BELIEFS, MEANINGS, AND STIGMAS THROUGH THE EYES OF QATAR'S MIGRANT WORKERS

  • Sponsor: Qatar National Research Fund Undergraduate Research Experience Program

  • Primary Mentor: Autumn Watts, WCM-Q. 

  • Co-Mentor: Ali Sultan, Microbiology and Immunology, WCM-Q. 

  • Students: Marwa Saleh, Rahima Sanya, Abhyudaya Joshi

Qatar employs a vast migrant laborer workforce from TB epidemic countries, who live in high-density labor camps, putting them at risk of developing multi-drug resistant TB. Our project used quantitative and qualitative research methods to examine TB understandings in the migrant worker population through two phases: 1. Surveying worker perceptions of tuberculosis through widely distributed questionnaires 2. Collecting illness narratives through interviews with TB-infected patients receiving treatment at the TB National Program in-patient clinic. Our findings sought to improve the clinic’s local TB outreach by investigating the social stigmas and health culture gaps that lead to poor prevention and patient compliance in this vulnerable and marginalized population. I helped our team write the grant proposal and apply for IRB approval; trained them in qualitative research methods (informed consent, semi-structured interviews, participant confidentiality, transcription and translation; and co-authored the final manuscript, presented at the 2012 Qatar Annual Research Forum.

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CONSTRUCTING QATAR: TALES FROM THE MARGINS OF A GLOBAL SYSTEM

  • Sponsor: Qatar National Research Fund Undergraduate Research Experience Program

  • Primary Research Mentor: Andrew Gardner, Professor of Anthropology, University of Puget Sound

  • Co-Mentor: Autumn Watts, WCM-Q

  • Students: Yogamaya Mantha, Elizabeth Jose, Marwa Saleh, Zaid Hague, Nora Biary, Elma Atic

This project aimed to share the experiences of transnational labor migrants in Qatar, who are often marginalized and trafficked in the Arabian Gulf. Six students gathered migration narratives from construction workers, drivers, servants, custodians, domestic workers, and general laborers, translated the narratives to English, and published them as an e-book. I facilitated the grant application, applied for IRB approval, led workshops in transcribing, translating, and preparing the narratives for publication, ensuring anonymity of the sources, co-edited the final e-book with my colleague, and accompanied the students to present their work and experiences at the 2010 Society for Applied Anthropology Conference, in Merida, Mexico.

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VOICES OF MEMORY: ORAL STORIES AND FOLKTALES OF QATAR

  • Sponsor: Qatar National Research Fund Undergraduate Research Experience Program

  • Primary Research Mentor: Autumn Watts, WCM-Q

  • Co-Mentors: Ian Miller, Lecturer of Writing, Weill Cornell Medicine in Qatar, and Amy Hamar, Lecturer of ESL, Qatar University 

  • Students: Kholoud Saleh, Mei ElGhindi, Rana El Maghraby, Hiba Al Ashtal, Mazin Imad, Majd Mohammed, Tariq Mohammed, Yasser AlSamman, Hind AlSuaiti 

Nine students interviewed elderly Qatari storytellers to document oral folktales and tribal dialects in an effort to help preserve an endangered oral tradition. In my role, I facilitated the grant application, applied for IRB approval, led workshops in qualitative research methods, transcription, and translation, edited the folktales for publication, and conducted regular check-in meetings with the students. Four tales have been published in literary journals (here and here), and I accompanied the students to present their work at the 10th International Society for Ethnology and Folklore Congress, 2011, in Lisbon, Portugal.

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BEFORE THE HOSPITAL: QATAR AND THE TRADITION OF HEALING

  • Sponsor: Qatar National Research Fund Undergraduate Research Experience Program

  • Primary Research Mentors: Autumn Watts, WCM-Q, and Lauren Alleyne, James Madison University​

  • Students: Zainab Heijji, Benazir Karim, and Abdullah Firoze

Three students documented Qatar’s disappearing traditional medicine, including cupping, herbal treatments, bone setting, Islamic healing, and djinn exorcism, through collecting and publishing oral history interviews with practitioners. I led training workshops in qualitative research, joined the students in their interviews to photograph the interviewees,  accompanied the team to present their work at an academic conference in Oman, and co-wrote the final Blurb publication, which we distributed for free within Qatar. I accompanied the students to present the book and their experiences at the First International Medical Student Conference in Sohar, Oman, 2008.

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