BSM club Destination Imagination (DI) is taking their knowledge and experience outside the country in a trip to Doha, Qatar. From February 25-28, Qatar will be hosting an International Invitational for DI teams from around the world. BSM’s team will be leaving on February 21 so they have a few days to recover from traveling and explore the area’s treasures.
DI team manager and coordinator Ms. Kirsten Hoogenakker organized the trip for the team through various contacts within the DI community. “I am colleagues with the Minnesota Affiliate Director through the Minnesota DI advisory board and through being a Minnesota state challenge master for DI, and at the beginning of the season I asked her about international opportunities,” Hoogenakker said.
After looking at possible trips, Hoogenakker realized that many of the international competitions were too expensive. Luckily, Hoogenakker heard back from the MN Affiliate Director, who told her about a unique opportunity. “She asked if our team would still be interested in an international opportunity, because the Sheikh in Qatar was disappointed in how few international teams registered for their international invitational,” Hoogenakker said.
Not only was Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani encouraging international teams to participate in the invitational, he also was willing for pay for them to do so. “He offered to pay for room and board, and we would just need to worry about getting there. It was pretty much an all-inclusive trip from there,” Hoogenakker said.
While there, the BSM DI team will participate in the invitational, as well as experience the culture that Doha has to offer. “We are going to kayaking into the desert, and we might go to the Muslim Institute of Art. We’ll also probably go to Souq Waqif, a market that has textiles, that will be a great place to pick up souvenirs. That will be a lot of fun,” Hoogenakker said.
The culture that the DI team members will experience in Qatar is radically different from that in the United States. For example, Qatar has a national dress code law. While this law is less strict for the tourists, they are still required to dress a certain way. Because Qatar is a predominantly Islamic country, there are certain social rules that students will have to follow. ”We will have to wear certain clothes; I’m nervous that someone’s going to forget about that,” senior captain Kayla McMenamy said.
In general, the team is excited to have been given this opportunity. “It’s exciting to be traveling internationally and it will be amazing to experience a culture so different from ours,” team manager Lisa McMenamy said.
The entire five-member DI team will be going to Qatar for the competitions, as well as their coach, two team managers and two chaperones. Seniors Jack Meshbesher and Kayla McMenamy, juniors Alex Aldes and Daniel McMenamy, and sophomore Landry Elman will be making the 24-hour, 7,100 mile trek to Qatar. “I’m just so thankful that the school jumped on the opportunity to support this. I hope they bring back some cultural competency and I hope that they have a really good time and that they become ambassadors for the part of the Middle East they’ve seen,” Hoogenakker said.