Three Chicago high school students attended today’s O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals as guests of the Al-Anabi Racing Team following their cultural exchange trip to Qatar last fall, it was announced today. The three students attend the Lindblom Math and Science Academy and were among a group of 19 students who traveled to Qatar with Qatar Foundation International in October 2011.
Qatar Foundation International (QFI), LLC, is a U.S.-based member of Qatar Foundation (QF) dedicated to advancing QF’s mission and Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser’s vision of connecting cultures and advancing global citizenship through education. Based in Washington, D.C., QFI focuses on Kindergarten through 12th grade education uniting young people from Qatar and North and South America so they can work and learn together, acquire 21st century skills and build lasting friendships. QFI promotes teaching of the Arabic language and culture, cooperation among students and teachers in science and other fields, as well as teaching young people skills in leadership, communications, and community involvement.
QFI identified Chicago’s Lindblom Math and Science Academy as a leader in both Arabic and science studies, making it a perfect candidate for a cultural exchange with Qatari schools. With some 200 students currently studying Arabic, Lindblom has the largest Arabic program in Chicago and among all United States public schools, with the exception of a few schools serving Arab heritage communities in other cities.
Rising junior Bria Collier as well as rising seniors Jade Moore and Joshua Short attended today’s NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event – the first ever Motorsports event for all three. This morning, they spent time with Al-Anabi drivers Shawn Langdon and Khalid alBalooshi as well as other Al-Anabi Racing Team personnel and enjoyed an extensive tour of the Al-Anabi pit area.
“Being at the race track with the Al-Anabi team was a new experience for all of us,” Collier said. “This sport is one that we had never been exposed to before. It was fun to see something different that we’re not used to and experience the rush of cars going faster than 300 mph. I was surprised to learn of the drag racing program in Qatar and that the Al-Anabi team was in the United States as well. ”
“We have been very eager to work with Chicago Public Schools, including Lindblom, Lincoln Park High School and others,” QFI Director of Programs Kent Lewis said. “Chicago is the clear leader among major U.S. cities when it comes to introducing so-called ‘critical languages,’ including Arabic, Chinese and others, which the U.S. Government has identified as critical to our future.” QFI is supporting the creation of a resource center for teachers of Arabic at Lindblom similar to the Confucius Institute at Payton College Prep, which supports the teaching of Mandarin Chinese.
During their 10-day trip to Qatar, Lindblom students and several faculty members focused on water and marine conservation with a more specific focus on water quality in both Chicago and Doha. Since returning from Qatar, the students have remained in touch with their Qatari counterparts and are continuing their joint research remotely.
“One of the things we learned is that water connects people across the world,” Short said. “A motto we used while in Qatar is ‘One World, One Ocean,’ which basically means we are all interconnected in some way through water. Our trip gave us a good chance to collaborate with students from different cultural backgrounds and actually experience the Qatari culture first hand.”
“I have learned that what we do in Chicago can ultimately affect what goes on in Doha because of ‘One World, One Ocean,’” Moore said. “For example, if our sewage system is clogged and the trash eventually goes into the ocean, it can travel through different bodies of water and make its way to Doha which would negatively affect their water supply and harm marine life.”
QFI is funded by Qatar Foundation, an independent, private, non-profit chartered organization based in Doha, Qatar. QFI implements its mission through innovative educational and volunteer programs, which inspire lasting exchanges of experience and knowledge. QFI strives to give young people in Qatar and North and South Americas skills and experiences that will help them be effective global citizens throughout their lives. QFI places hundreds of young people from diverse social, economic, and cultural backgrounds into effective, collaborative learning environments—both inside and outside the classroom, in person and online.
QFI's core program areas are Arabic Language & Culture, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Math) and Youth Engagement. These areas feature the cross-cutting themes of technology, bridging cultures, community engagement, collaborative learning and partnership.
Al-Anabi Racing operates out of multiple locations in both the United States and Qatar. In the United States, the Brownsburg, Ind.-based operation is a two-car NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series team that is managed by Alan Johnson Racing. Sheikh Khalid’s initiative has created increased international awareness of the nation of Qatar while highlighting the nation’s international sports outreach. Alan Johnson is a 14-time NHRA champion in various capacities including crew chief, team owner and team manager. For additional information on the Al-Anabi Racing Team, team manager Alan Johnson or drivers Khalid alBalooshi or Shawn Langdon, please visit www.alanabiracing.com.