This is my reflection about the conference.
I was one of the 3 lucky students that went to Qatar in the Middle East during January 2009.
Some of the things that I learnt while in Qatar were:
An understanding of others cultures. This was a big thing because too many people in the world don’t understand other people or their cultures and it puts a divider between everyone. If we could get people to understand like I did at the conference then the divider wouldn’t exist. We would exist as one.
The internet. This was the reason why we went to Qatar in the first place. We had completed a project towards the end of 2008 and then were invited to an international conference. Our project was about the internet so the conference itself was about the internet. We learnt about wikis – a space for people to sign up and then everyone can edit the wiki, nings – similar to a blog but you have to be a member to comment, blogs – own website basically, back channelling – a site where you sign in with a name then everyone can see what you type – have own chat rooms and about digital citizenship – how to behave on the internet – netiquette.
From this we learnt so much. We learnt new things that would have been impossible to learn in Australia. We heard TED talks from different people from different countries which gave everyone a chance to learn from each other.
The conference was ran by two people mainly – Vicki Davis from USA and Julie Lindsay from Qatar. These people knew lots of things(about technology) that not very many people knew. To learn from them was just unbelievable. I wouldn’t have had the knowledge I now have to share if I didn’t go to Qatar.
The experience was a once in a lifetime thing. I haven’t met anyone who has travelled to Qatar. Now I can say I have. People travel to the US or around Europe but not many (or so I know) go to Qatar. I didn’t even know that there was a country called Qatar. So that in itself was something I learnt – a new country.
Some things can’t be experienced just in your own country. Going away from home is easy but knowing that you are going overseas thousands of miles away from the comfort of your own country is an experience. Lots of people haven’t travelled ever in their life let alone at the age of 15!
I feel like a better person now that I’m home. I have tolerance for people that are different to me. I can understand that people are different, eat different foods, dress differently and talk differently.
I met so many new people who are now some of my best friends. I stayed with a host family. The girl I stayed with was 14 years old so we were of a similar age. She looked after me while I was at their school for 3 days. Being in her classes for 3 days showed me that everyone learnt the same sort of stuff around the world just with different techniques. I brought back so many ideas for my school to use during classes.
I made friends from Pakistan, USA, Qatar and Oman. I will have forgotten many other countries but are all as important as each other. I still keep in regular touch with everyone. I made a group of friends at school so am kept really busy replying to emails and comments on my blog and ning etc.
We also met people other than students. I met adults and teachers from around the world and I even personally met a Hollywood producer. That isn’t something that many people get to do. I most likely would never have met a Hollywood producer if I didn’t go on this trip.
I got to see the world! I saw what Doha, Qatar looked like without looking at photos. I saw it first-hand and that experience wouldn’t be traded for anything. Because we were at a conference and had sight-seeing days there were lots of people taking videos and photos. We were able to put them all onto our conference ning and share them with everyone. This way my mum and dad back in Australia were able to see what we had done and the fun that we were having. There were movies of the conference talks we had or even stretching to the dune bashing which was a laugh for the viewers.
I cant’ put everything into words as everything I experienced was too big and awesome for words. The only thing I can do is continually tell people that I had the time of my life and that if given such an opportunity, take it. Don’t necessarily say yes but don’t give it a straight no, not at first. Think about it and take a risk or two. I know that I took a few risks in going overseas to the Middle East but I wouldn’t have had it any other way!