U.S Ambassador makes learning tour at NU-Q


Photo retrieved from Dana Shell Smith's Twitter page
Photo retrieved from Dana Shell Smith’s Twitter page (@AmbDana)


In a first for Northwestern University, the U.S. Ambassador to Qatar held an open community meeting with students, faculty and staff on Sunday.

Dana Shell Smith, who was appointed as the U.S. Ambassador to Qatar in July 2014, marked her first formal visit to the university as part of her learning tour in Qatar.

“Foreign policy is really critical to media and communications. One of the things we teach here is communication and public diplomacy is strategic to communication,” said Everette Dennis, dean and CEO of NU-Q.

More than 70 students, faculty and staff attended the community meeting, where Smith talked about some of the challenges of carrying out foreign policy, while juggling her personal and professional life and her interest in communications.

Talking about media, the ambassador said that she is always willing to talk to journalists from legitimate news organizations who approach her.

“You can’t complain about what’s in the media if you don’t speak for yourself [to the media],” Smith said. “[However] some journalists come with half a story prepared in their minds and look for quotes to fill in spaces. When that happens, I take it as a challenge to try to change [the pre-prepared] story.”

According to Dennis, ambassadors from other countries to Qatar have also visited the university in the past and the purpose of hosting them is to learn about the foreign policy of the countries represented in Qatar, as well as their agendas and what they do here.

“I think the biggest lesson I got from the talk was this emphasis on a sense of balance when it comes to all life aspects, whether it’s job versus personal life, or government representation versus personal choices,” said Alya Al Harthy, a communications junior at NU-Q. “The ambassador articulated how important it is to find middle ground.”

During her visit to NU-Q, Smith also attended classes and visited the university’s broadcast and production studio.

“This is a good case study of how a person can represent something as big as a whole nation,” added Dennis. “[It helps to see] an effective communicator at work.”


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