In an effort to expand the range and scope of its local outreach efforts, last summer the School of Foreign Service in Qatar launched the Planet Georgetown program for Qatari primary school students. Planet Georgetown joins SFS-Q’s annual Model United Nations conference, targeted at secondary school students, as part of the School’s commitment to engage the local community.
For the first of the program’s two weeks, students take a virtual trip across Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas through the use of simulations, art projects, and other activities designed by SFS-Q undergraduates, faculty, and staff to expand the children’s worldviews and instill in them a lifetime love of learning. During the second half of the program, students form groups and complete exercises to create and develop their own imaginary countries—complete with unique native languages, cultures, currencies, and more.
On the final day, students host a ‘World Market’ where they present their imaginary countries’ crafts, maps, and flags, which can be purchased by their family and friends using the new states’ currencies. According to 11-year-old attendee Zuwaina Ateig, the program “was just like school, but more fun because we had so many activities and more friends.” Thirty-five Qatari students participated in the first Planet Georgetown, and as a result of its first-year success, SFS-Q will expand the program in 2009 to a larger group.