Students in Qatar are not that different from students in the US. Young men of 18 make the same bad decisions – just in a different place. While chaperoning an international orientation Dhow Boat cruise through the bay area of Doha I had the luck to be a first hand witness to bad decision making. While on the first floor of a large boat I heard a splash and saw shocked faces as student noticed a student fall overboard off the top deck. Another boat noticed and began blowing its horn and ringing its bell. The boat staff quickly got out the gear to help real the student in. While this is going on I heard cheering and laughter from the top deck. I quickly climbed the latter to make sure no one else followed in the last student’s wake. After ensuring students knew that under no circumstance were they to jump, I went down to meet the student as he was being pulled on board. He was very proud of himself and had a big smile from ear to ear. I took him aside to talk to him about what he had done – and to let him know how lucky he was. Not only did this student jump off a moving boat into an unsafe bay; but he also jumped off the section of the boat that has the engine and he was lucky he landed far enough behind it not to hit a blade or to get pulled into the whirl of water. In addition to not knowing the anatomy of the boat off of which he had just jumped, he also happened to jump into the path of a speedboat. Thankfully another boat on the water saw the student jump and motioned for the speed boat to turn – which it did with enough room to cause the clueless student no alarm, but to cause panic and anger in the onlookers from other boats (this was a busy time on the bay and several Dhow boats and speed boats were near). In addition this student had broken a law, which could have resulted in the student and the staff of our boat getting arrested. You may be wondering what this student’s response was when I asked him why he jumped. In his words; “I was challenged to, and I do not turn down a challenge.” Oh this one will go far in life.
Later on that night while eating dinner after the trip the student was complaining that his jeans were still wet. It may surprise you to learn that I had no sympathy for him and told him to tough it out. I tend to care a lot about students comfort and safety, but in this case I got a little satisfaction in knowing that this student had to deal with some consequences of his actions – thankfully it was only being cold and wet for a few hours and not serious injury, jail time, or death. (I hope not caring about the student being wet does not make me sound heartless – I am a good person, I promise)