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Barnes & Nobles here?’ And that’s true. I wish it were something I had studied at So how does her fluency in English and
Why not? Back when I was in Qatar Uni- the University. It is taught in Pittsburg for Arabic affect her thought process?
versity I had a problem finding English design students, by David Kaufer, head of “I think in both. This actually started
books. I was fortunate to be in London the English department. We had students in my Masters degrees. Because I discov-
half of the year, to buy my own books. whose English was not perfect. ered more about how my mind functions
But what about the others? Such universi- “We have to bear in mind that our stu- while doing linguistics and translation.
ties (in Education City) will make a dif- dents here are ESL (English as a Second An African writer says though English
ference. We have a very good library that Language) students, how ever comfortable is his second language, he dreams in
is growing. We are looking at achieving and fluent they are, it is still their second English. I reached that stage, where most
the one million book mark soon. Each language. So there are ESL issues involved of my thoughts are formed in English

professor also gets to order a set of books. – and I have a background of Education sometimes, or hybridity of English-Arabic
And I ordered a lot of books...,” she grins. where ESL issues were involved. I was an languages.”
However, what she found heartening ESL student too. When she gets into a heated discus-
was that the students she met on campus “In Pittsburg I saw students develop sion, even while speaking to non-English

a passion
here were reading. “They are travelling through the course, how comfortable they speakers, she automatically switches to
a lot. We were interviewing students, to were with the assignments they had to English. But when it comes to emotional
place them in their English level courses. do. We go through seven prototypes of talk or thought then it’s in Arabic.
And most of them were reading Dan English prose. And we don’t emphasise “Arabic is a romantic language. I love
Brown’s Da Vinci Code. They have access grammar. It is important of course, but reading poetry in Arabic. If there is an
to those books while travelling. And we we treat is as bumps. At the end what we Arabic novel translated into English, I

By Vani sar aswathi s I walked in to Carnegie Mel- stopping to work nor waiting for a schol- will work harder here, to find the good hope to establish is people who are open read the original first. And when I read
lon University Qatar Campus, arship.” titles and make it available for students.” to expressing themselves in other languag- the English translation, how ever people
looking for a Dr Amal Al However, she gives me no time for men- Her romance with books began rather es. Through experience and time they will say it’s perfect, I feel the Arabic is better.
Malki, I passed by two people tal math or to pull out a calculator. So we early. “I started reading novels when I was overcome those bumps.” It is the same for all languages and trans-
deep in conversation. Teacher and stu- do away with trivialities of age and get on only 10. I started with Arabic novels and An apt choice apparently, as her work lations, I guess,” she says.
dent, I told myself and walked by trying with the interview. English short stories. I read for pleasure and studies have been about expression. Her apparent ease with the Arab and
to identify Dr Malki. Definitely in her So what tone should the interview take? and also during my graduation in Qatar After graduating from the University of Western thinking, and her skill to choose
40s, a stern looking lady, buried deep in Do I go by her casual and down-to-earth University where I studied English and Qatar (in English and Education), she what suits her, are what will help her in
papers preparing for the course she has to attitude or take the cue from her heavy- Education.” did her Masters (Applied Linguistics and her new role, she feels.
conduct. duty degrees and theses? It was also at Qatar University that she Translation) and Doctorate (Post-colonial “Well I think one of the things that
Talk about presumptions and We comfortably settle for the middle- decided on teaching as a career. “There novels: Anglo-African and Anglo-Arab) benefits me most is the ability to relate
stereotypes. ground, as we realise a common pas- was a requirement to teach students, as at the University of London, School of to students... I was a student till recently.
The student turned out to be the lady I sion for books in general and novels in they were qualifying us to be teachers. I Oriental and African Studies. Back in the University (Qatar) we were
was looking for. So different from what I particular – which incidentally is what her taught for a month at a secondary and treated as students. But in London we
had imagined seconds before, that when studies have been all about. then in a high school for a whole semes- Hybridity is the way to go were treated differently. I was addressed
she tinkled a laugh and told me that it Dr Al Malki, a visiting Assistant Profes- ter. Completed this in 1996. And then Dr Al Malki takes great pride in the as ‘Ms Al Malki’. They allowed us to gain
was her that I had come in search of, I sor, is Education City’s first Qatari teach- went to London for further studies. ‘hybridity’ she has lived all her life and confidence in ourselves. I have to treat
could only grin stupidly, and follow her to ing faculty. “I applied for QF when I first came back believes that is where the future is headed. them as equals – students I am going to
her room. A Graduate degree from Qatar Univer- from London. I had a teaching position
To dwell on how she looks would be an sity, Masters and Doctorate degrees from in mind. They told me Carnegie Mellon Inheritances from my say this is my luck and I
was opening a campus here, and asked
injustice to the person she is. And totally
ignoring it would be one too. So here is a
the UK, and teaching in an American
University. me to talk to the people there. So I did. mother: can’t change. You can always
quick note: my contact in Carnegie Mel- And I was here for 8 months and then I would not have reached change it.
my teaching break came and I went to
lon who first tipped me off on Dr Malki
was absolutely right when she described
Hooked to the Book
While she is clearly excited about the Pittsburg for the Spring semester.” here without her. She is very Tolerance
her as gorgeous. teaching programme ahead, any men- And the rest as we say is going to be her smart and good in every- From my father:
She laughs away an apology for mistak-
ing her for a student, and adds “it hap-
tion of books brings a totally different
gleam to her eyes. A hunger to read and
thing she does, and has I am hoping his wisdom
pens often”. understand more, a satisfied look over the First Qatari faculty member at encouraged us to be so too. His calmness
Education City
But dodges the next question on age:
“I don’t have to tell you! You do the
books recently devoured, an appreciation
of the influence various writers have had She will now conduct an elective course She never settles for less. His sense of fairness, he
calculation. I started really early at school, over her, disappointment over the books titled ‘Writer’s Craft’ for sophomores. It is ok to make a mistake, never discriminates and
On why she chose this course to teach,
skipped a year in high school and had the
luxury of studying continuously, neither
she has not yet read...
“The dean was saying, ‘Why not open she says, “I loved this course in Pittsburg. but not ok to surrender and taught us never to do that.
september 2005 28 september 2005 29
young&happening young&happening
teach and learn from.” into a book. She does not think that the my vacation in English boarding schools
It is also her hybridity that is going to Books read recently: language itself is under threat. “Arabic in London.” Concerns she shares with
help. “Being an Arab is going to help. An is preserved for good. I believe that. It’s So there was no real vacation was there?
Arab who studied abroad is going to help 1. Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown the language of the Quran. Look at other “I guess not. Should I be upset about
her students
more. To help them towards hybrid- 2. Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi nationalities who don’t speak Arabic but that,” she laughs, looking rather pleased Traditions. I understand
ity. You can see it in my personality, the read it, because of the Quran. There is with the opportunities her parents made
way I talk and dress. I have been living 3. Inside the Kindom: My Life in Saudi Arabia by Carmen a very strong cultural background here possible. “I am lucky to have such a fam-
you have to go forward, but
it all my life. But if they didn’t have my bin Ladin which depends on language and religion.” ily. Both my parents were educated in at the same time you can’t
background, they are still going to hit On the effects of globalisation on Lebanon. They are graduates. They know
it really soon. They will face hybridity 4. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez languages, she says, “through my studies that education is the way to go. It is a
ignore your tradition. Not
in languages, they will be speaking both 5. Colloquial Bedouin poetry in Arabic by Prince Khaled Al I discovered that colonialism in any form family thing to keep studying. My brother everything is outdated.
languages at the same time, they will be went through the same phases. There is a senior engineer (petroleum and gas)
annoying people by doing that... but this Faisal of Saudi Arabia was the language domination through and graduated from an American Univer-
You need to develop your
is a fact that people have to accept. This is
6. And books of Tayeb Saleh and Chinua Achebe, the muse of education, which started with colonialism sity. I have a sister who is doing her PhD sense of identity. They need
the language of their education. Cultur- and went on to hybridity and globalisa- and she is very young. Seriously young!
ally, we are very strong. I am sure that as her thesis tion. The African writer I researched for She is a computer engineer. And I have to embrace it more, even if it
the whole country is doing, we take what my doctorate thesis, Chinua Achebe of another sister who is doing her graduate were hybrid, it is still a sense
suits us as Qataris, as Muslims... we are Nigeria, wrote in English, though that degree in AUB, Lebanon. And they all
tailoring it to our needs and our culture.” was not his first language, whereas Tayeb will come back here to work. of identity.
Saleh (the author researched) of Sudan But the lucky one is my sister in high Language. Preserve it. To be
Arabic preserved for good wrote in Arabic, and his works were then school here, because she doesn’t have to
Though her first course is on writing in translated to English. This is a major go anywhere, everything is available here. bi-lingual is great thing, but
English, she says that she would strive difference of course, using different lan- She can choose Carnegie Mellon or other don’t overdo it, and lose
to introduce Arabic literature into the guages as the medium of expression. The universities here at Education City.”
curriculum. “I don’t want our students to first one used the coloniser’s language and While she was confident, through her all Arabic for the sake of
be deprived of such a large part of their the second used his own. But when you her studies abroad, that she would come English.
tradition. My studies were in comparative analyse the novels itself, you realise that back and work in Qatar, she had no idea
literature (Arabic and English). So I will the culture itself, be it African-Nigerian at that point that these opportunities
conduct a course on that too.” or Sudanese, was highly impacted by co- would be available - like Education City. And with a twinkle she adds in a
I draw her attention to a 2002 UN lonialism. Highly changed and impacted. But that never seemed to have deterred or whisper, “And if you notice, girls seem
report on Arab Human Development Different shape and different form with worried her. smarter than men. They get higher scores
that said there was “a severe shortage” of globalisation, but we are living in the age “No, I knew things were changing. And in high school, they have more time to
Arab writing. The report also said a large of hybridity.” I could have always gone back to Qatar spend on reading and educating them-
part of the Arab market was made up of She does stress the importance of being University to teach. We have a lot of selves. We don’t have the ‘luxury’ men
religious and educational books of limited bi-lingual and says she now finally gets an Qatari women PhD holders at the varsity. have, so we are at home reading.”
creative content. opportunity to live two languages simul- My best teachers at the university were Then she dwells on it further, “Men
“If it’s a news statement, then maybe it taneously. “It is a bit funny. When I was Qatari. But, working at Carnegie Mellon just want to work. They hit an age and
is understandable in the political atmo- Influences in school and college in Doha, I found it is much better for me, because it is the just want to work. For women, at least
sphere we are living in. But otherwise, difficult to practice my English. Because atmosphere I am used to. The transition for me, it is more about how they can
no, I don’t agree with it. Arabic literature My Parents there weren’t that many people speaking was easier for me to work in this atmo- feed their mind more, what they can do
was always highly perceived and highly HH Sheikha Mozah bint English, and if you did it was a sign of sphere. And believe it or not, culturally next.”
encouraged, in Egypt and the Levant being a snob. I was in boarding schools too.” So, how would she describe the
area, for its own artistic sake not for any Nasser Al Misnad in London during the summer. I had to women’s movement in Qatar? “There is
religious purpose. David Kaufer, my live these two lives, where each life had its Being Qatari; Being a Woman no movement as such. This is how it’s
But what about the Gulf? “It is true own language. But one of the things that Has she noticed an imbalance? More supposed to be. Twenty years ago we had
there is no recording of history and life mentor. I hope to work is making me really happy in this environ- women are enrolling at the Bachelor’s women figures, who led. But were more
in the Gulf area. And someone should with him on future ment is that I get to combine both, and level, in professional courses. Where does silent. Not everything was open to them.
do that. And one of my goals is to record live both lives in one.” that leave the men? The whole atmosphere is changing for
women’s movements, feminism, literature, projects – We are “Don’t forget that men have the oppor- both men and women. It is the natural
and female writers in the Gulf. It is going working on courses Straddling continents tunity to go abroad and study. To go to flow of things, it’s not a movement. You
to need work and it is going to need time. Since her school days, Amal has lived two the US, to Europe. You will find in Lon- work hard, you’ll get what you deserve,
But I would like to write a book on that.” together, we want to lives. As sinister as that sounds, it was all don that there are more Qatari male than immaterial of your gender,” and another
But that work will have to wait till at write a book together. for academic purposes. female students. It is tougher for (Qatari) smiling whisper, “We don’t want to scare
least after she converts her PhD thesis “I studied in Qatari schools, but spent women to go abroad and study.” men by saying it’s a movement, do we?”
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