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Texas A&M at Qatar students publish writing in sixth edition of Best Writing

Published Oct 20, 2019


Texas A&M University at Qatar has published the sixth edition of Best Writing, which showcases the writing talents of the branch campus’s engineering students.

Best Writing features the writings of Texas A&M at Qatar students in a variety of genres, from poetry, short stories and personal essays to technical papers and research reports.

Co-editors and Texas A&M faculty members Dr. Mysti Rudd and Dr. Amy Hodges said this year’s book, “A Thousand Ways to Begin,” features writings that attest to the difficulties students have experienced when leaving behind one piece of their lives to begin another, such as leaving a beloved high school to begin a challenging engineering degree.

“When students enroll at Texas A&M,” Rudd and Hodges write in the preface, “they embark on many beginnings that will never be recorded on a transcript as they begin new relationships and make new friends. They fluctuate between feeling confident and full of doubt as they situate themselves in new social groups, trying to learn what it means to responsibly live in community with their fellow Aggies. As the pieces from our alumni Yousef Al-Jaber, Pavithra Manghaipathy and Omar Barhoumi show, these early experiences at Texas A&M shape their new identities and values and prepare them for learning new ways of belonging in the workplace. By paying attention to the poems, stories, essays, and arguments collected in Best Writing 2019, you will be gifted with a front-row seat to the journeys that we all go through as human beings.”

During the book launch, several student authors read selections from their published pieces. Rand Alagha, Nadeen Issa, Omar Aly and Zahid Kamil read their essays and research pieces, while Sara Albanna and Ahmed Al-Nowfal read poetry. Recent Texas A&M at Qatar graduate Lolwa Al-Majid also read from her piece published in this year’s volume.

Taif Almeflehi, whose photo decorates the cover of the book, reflected on the image she took while in Chefchaouen, Morocco. “The cover picture is a reflection of my love and my passion for my Arabic language, as I was attracted to its colors at that very moment. With these letters on the walls, I will build beautiful words that will express the charm and heritage of the city that expresses Amazigh history in North Africa with its Islamic and Arab character.”

Student Ghaith Glaied, who served on this year’s Best Writing committee, spoke during the launch and said, “I believe this [book] should be our need statement as engineers here in Qatar. In the first three years at Texas A&M, students are taught how to understand, apply and analyze information in science and engineering. We are taught how to solve complex problems, but it was difficult and many of us ended up asking ourselves, ‘Why are we even doing this?’ For us, Best Writing is a way to share with the world our hopes and frustrations. During our last year at Texas A&M, we learn about engineering design, and we move from asking how to asking why. But if we don’t start with why, our whole design will fail. At these moments, I remember the poem I wrote for Best Writing and I say, ‘This is why I design, this is why I chose to work hard for that grade.’”

Rudd first conceived of the book six years ago as a way to show that Aggie engineers in Qatar excel at thinking and writing creatively as well as critically. Rudd and Hodges praised the students who were brave enough to share their writings.

“The real treasure within this book is the cumulative courage displayed by the many students who submitted pieces for consideration in this year’s volume. Without these students and their hard work and bravery, there would be no Best Writing. By submitting their pieces, the students in this university acknowledge the power of writing and the accompanying terror and exhilaration of sharing their stories, assignments, and philosophies with an audience beyond their teachers and peers.”