The fourth week of July saw VCUarts Qatar welcome new and returning students, staff, and faculty to the 2022-2023 academic year.
This year, more than 75 students from over 20 countries joined the nation’s only university dedicated to art and design, which opened its doors in 1998.
The first week kicked off with an orientation program for new undergraduate and graduate students.
The orientation program for the new students was led by VCUarts Qatar’s Student Government Association (SGA) and the University’s division of Student Life and Engagement under the department of Student Affairs. The new students were greeted by VCUarts Qatar’s faculty, staff, and students, including Dean Amir Berbić.
“Congratulations on being accepted to VCUarts Qatar,” Dean Berbić said. “This by itself is an accomplishment. I know that getting into a center of excellence such as VCUarts Qatar involves months and months of preparation, building a portfolio, and getting good grades. And now that you’re here – I must thank you for making VCUarts Qatar your university of choice.”
He added, “You’re in a very exciting, energetic place where you’ll be engaged in a lot of creative processes. Our standards are high and there will be projects that will test you, and demand more from you. “Be curious, be ready to explore, take on new opportunities, meet new people, and make the most of the excellent resources we have. Welcome to VCUarts Qatar, Class of 2026!”
The new students were then introduced to the Directors, Heads, and Chairs of the various academic and non-academic departments, who gave the students an overview of VCUarts Qatar’s programs.
The orientation program for new students was a four-day-long activity-driven introduction to VCUarts Qatar. The icebreakers, brainstorming, and team-building activities were all linked to a theme to provide participants a taste of the four academic pathways – Art History, Graphic Design, Interior Design, and Painting + Printmaking – at VCUarts Qatar.
Sarah Faheem, Interim Director for Student Life and Engagement, said, “This year, the SGA spent almost a month planning the welcoming activities. When you think of a university, it’s almost always the academic programs that come to mind. But university life is much more than that – it is the sum of a student’s overall experience. And if new students are aware of the facilities, resources, tools, and expertise available at a top-rated art and design school such as VCUarts Qatar, the more they will be able to utilize them in their undergraduate or graduate years. Besides, Orientation Week gives new joiners a chance to network and get to know their peers better before they separate to pursue specialized modules.”
Team members from Qatar Foundation Student Life were present at the orientation. They shared information about ‘Marhaba’ – the upcoming Education City-wide orientation event – hosted by QF each year.
Sruthi Subash, one of the new students to join the University this year, said that she had set her sight on VCUarts Qatar since high school. “VCUarts Qatar was one of my top choices since high school, and so I’m very excited to be here,” she said. “I love painting, and the hands-on process of creating pieces of art so I’m hoping to get into the Painting + Printmaking program for my degree.”
Subash said the orientation program helped calm the initial nervousness she had. “Being the first day of orientation it did feel a little nerve-wracking, but I’m so glad to see how friendly and helpful everyone has been, and it just gets me pumped up to start my education here. The welcome program itself was fun and exciting,” she said.
Saif Saleh Abdulaziz Al-Ansari, another new student, explained his reason for joining the University’s BA Art History program, thus, “After high school, I left for the US with the intention of studying a design degree such as graphic design or fine arts. My plans changed once I started taking Art History courses at Scottsdale College, in the US. I realized Art History fascinated me. Eventually, when I learned there was an Art History degree program available back home, at VCUarts Qatar, I jumped at the chance and transferred here. Now that I’m here, it’s been great so far. The orientation leaders have been very welcoming and responsive to my questions, making me feel at home.”
For some new students such as Roberto Vazquez, from Stafford, Virginia, US, it was his first introduction to Qatar, and VCUarts Qatar. “I’m a rising junior, and I spent my first two years at VCU in Richmond,” he said. “This is my first time outside of North America. I'm very new to the Middle East but I'm loving it so far.
Vazquez said his interest in graphic design was one of the many reasons he chose to study in Qatar.
“I chose to transfer to VCUarts Qatar for a semester for many reasons,” he said. “I’m keen to build meaningful networks here that will help me make a career out of graphic design. I’m excited about studying in a city that was quite some distance from my hometown. Besides, I was inspired by the architecture and design here, the hands-on instruction, the very interesting alumni work that has come from this school, and simply the fact that when researching Qatar, I became fascinated with this place. I must add that since landing, all my experiences, including today’s orientation, have justified my reasons to come here. It made me proud to be a student at VCUarts Qatar!”