I completed a certificate in journalism online from University of Massachusetts May 13, 2010, after taking five online journalism courses. I am grateful for the opportunity to earn a top-notch education, while working 7,000 miles from home. The grades never mattered – I needed to learn. UMass crams a wealth of knowledge into each journalism class; a curriculum well worth the tuition. The instructors are encouraging and accommodating. Norm Sims, an expert in literary journalism, remained responsive and supportive, from online classroom enrollments to ensuring I received appropriate assistance for re-starting my GI Bill benefits. The fundamentals taught immediately helped improve my news reporting and strategic information skills. Continue reading
“Eight years Dustin,” said Laila, hovering over me with her hands on her hips. “You should know your way around by now. Why do you refuse this system?” Her facial gestures reveal a borderline action: will she storm out of the room in blood-boiling frustration or crack a sympathetic smile?
In my defense, it’ll be seven years next month, but she’s right. I’ve lived in Qatar too long to constantly need driving directions around Doha. I spent 45 minutes this morning looking for the veterinarian to clip our dog’s nails, which is five blocks from our apartment. Continue reading
Qatar hosts excellent options for prompt, inexpensive and flavorful dining. Grills bundle slowly broiled shavings of chicken and beef wrapped in flatbread with vegetables and garlic paste for two dollars. Dropping 30 cents in a bakery yields stacks of fresh bread. Barbar satisfies hundreds of customers daily, under the tagline “The Lebanese Fast Food,” at the C-Ring and Salwa Road intersection in Doha, known by U.S. expatriates as “cholesterol corner.”
U.S fast food chains suffer on cholesterol corner, where there’s little interest in processed value meals based on canned, smoked, dried and frozen ingredients packed with preservatives. A fading Taco Bell buckled a couple years ago, replaced by a bustling Coffee Beanery. The Arby’s restaurant welcomes “maybe 60 patrons” each day, according to an evening manager. Continue reading
Laila and I entered a tent adjacent to the Al Bustan Hotel in Doha, Qatar, shortly after 9:30 p.m. during a humid Wednesday night. Split air-conditioning units and tiny wall fans evaded evening temperatures flirting with 100-degrees Fahrenheit. Germany had just started playing Ghana in the FIFA World Cup. Everyone watched the men’s international soccer competition in a traditional Arabic setting.
Laila was raised watching soccer with her father, two sisters and three brothers in Morocco. They surrounded their television, eating salted sunflower seeds and chickpeas. Her mother poured endless cups of Moroccan mint tea the entire 90 minutes. The family screamed with enthusiasm. Her brothers often placed bets at nearby coffee shops. During the World Cup, Laila favored Brazil and Spain, whenever Morocco didn’t play. Continue reading
Our apartment doorbell rang at 8:45 a.m. Preanta, from Sri Lankan, promptly arrived for Saturday house cleaning duties. Laila handed him supplies, and then returned to bed. We stayed up late last night, after waiting in a long line for an Al Jazeera Sport subscription card inside the Villagio Mall in Doha, Qatar.
“Wake up,” Laila said, an hour later, running between the living room and bedroom. “We need to get ready soon if you want to see a movie… and get groceries.” It’s day two of the FIFA World Cup, one of the most-viewed events in the world. Laila developed a contagious respect for soccer while growing up in Morocco. Continue reading