Across 2020 and 2021, most universities the world over missed out on conducting one of the most eagerly awaited events of their academic calendars due to the COVID-19 pandemic – the ceremonies and celebrations marking the graduation of the outgoing classes.
Hence, when restrictions eased, VCUarts Qatar decided to hold a get-together exclusively for the Classes of 2020 and 2021. The event, restricted to only the alumni and invited faculty and staff members, was called ‘Homecoming’ and was held at Intercontinental Hotel in West Bay, Doha, last week.
Class of 2018 alumnus and Brazilian filmmaker Dimitri Yuri, was the chief guest. In his speech to the assembled audience, Yuri shared his personal reflection on the paths of discovery, and uncertainty, that artists and designers frequently journey on as they progress through their chosen careers. The VCUarts Qatar alumna, drawing on his own experience as a filmmaker in Doha, reminded the alumni that as creatives, “We’re not solving an equation.”
“We’re not solving an equation; we’re trying to express something personal and indescribable about who we are and how we think about the world. It’s messy, and it requires courage,” Yuri said. “The courage to try something new, not knowing if it will be good. Many of you have probably had similar experiences, some not yet. When you get there, don’t take your failures too seriously. Remember that it took an incredible amount of effort to even make something that you could consider a failure.
And he added, “In a lot of jobs, the client pays for a completed service. In art and design, they pay for the attempt. And you’ll start to realize there’s not really a fundamental difference between the projects that worked, and the projects that didn’t. You were there, doing your best besides the obstacles in your way, and it was either successful, or it wasn’t.”
Amir Berbić, Dean, VCUarts Qatar, welcomed the gathering, and said: “Every class is unique, but none more so than the Class of 2020 and the Class of 2021. You are assured of your place in the history of VCUarts Qatar. Not in a hundred years have VCU students had to experience a pandemic on this scale and intensity. You thrived despite this adversity. And you did so with outstanding creativity and no end of enthusiasm. You were the right people at the right time. You showed the same sense of possibility, of being undaunted by obstacles, that marked you as an outstanding cohort from the day you arrived at VCUarts Qatar. You found a way through and showed all of us the art of the possible. And we are incredibly proud of you.”
Lejla Niksic, Director, Strategic Engagement, VCUarts Qatar, compered the event that was brimming with excitement as alumni, staff and faculty caught up, some of who had gone for months without seeing each other. Class of 2021 graduate Enjood Al-Kuwari says the evening gave her a much-needed chance to celebrate her four-year journey at VCUarts Qatar.
“All across those four years at VCUarts Qatar, I was planning for the day I’d graduate,” says the alumna. “And to have that moment taken away from me due to the pandemic made me feel that my journey was incomplete. Hence, it was wonderful that VCUarts Qatar would organize this evening for us to get together and celebrate our achievements. I’ll never forget this.”
Cut Izza Alyssa, another alumna, says she was “ecstatic” when she heard of the event. “There’s no place like VCUarts Qatar,” she says. “It was my home for four years. I miss the vibrancy. The rooms and halls that we used to frequent. I even miss the atrium. So, I want to give a massive shout out to the organizers for arranging this lovely evening that made me feel that as a class, we’ve finally ‘arrived’; that we’re being celebrated. Just to meet and catch up with faculty, staff and my dear friends has been fabulous. What an evening!”