Two students sit at a small table next to a bright window cut in half by a thin string of red, green, and blue lights.
Outside is Asian Town, an enclave built for migrant workers in Qatar, the country with the highest per capita income in the world and where about 90% of the population is temporary. Inside, across the table, one of these foreign workers shares his experiences as a labor migrant over lunch.
The interaction is one of a handful of mealtime interviews arranged for students while visiting Qatar as part of this spring’s Migration and the Global City course, taught by Professors Andrew Gardner, sociology and anthropology, and Robin Jacobson, politics and government. Offered as a Connections course—part of Puget Sound’s core curriculum that aims to help students develop their understanding of how different disciplines, methodologies, and subject matter relate—the class investigated the intersections of politics, culture, history, economics, education, and society.
“I don’t want to sit in a classroom and tell [students] what they need to understand and what’s important,” Andrew says. “I want to take them and stick them in front of migrants and have them explore the city to see the segregation and enclaving and all the other urban processes that divide and organize foreigners in Qatar. I want them to see and experience that themselves.”
In addition to the two international trips (Qatar organized by Andrew, and Amsterdam planned by Robin), the course involved readings, lectures, discussions, guest speakers, and excursions around Tacoma and Seattle. But getting out of the country was key.