Umm...this was longer than expected.
  1. Two years ago, I escorted 16 college students to our campus in Doha, Qatar for a cultural exchange over spring break.
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    My job is so weird.
  2. In the month leading up to the trip, I tried to get all of the students excited about where we were going. Which was an interesting task, because at the time no one really knew much of anything about Qatar.
    Now mostly people know about it for some unfortunate reasons like the controversy around the 2022 World Cup and their poor worker protection laws.
  3. Enter Google.
  4. So I create a Facebook group for folks and start posting random facts about the country, including that falconry is a major deal there.
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  5. I decide to make it my thing. I bring it up in every pre-departure meeting and most emails. I joke that I am not coming home without the world's greatest profile picture: me staring into the distance with one of these magnificent birds on my arm.
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  6. I am mostly full of shit. But hopeful?
    Some might call this my resting state.
  7. When we get to Qatar, everyone we're working with there is wonderful. Except for this one guy who's a total D-bag? Like, to the point that after he insulted my students for a solid half hour I had to go walk it off on this ridiculous courtyard that was ACTUALLY the site of a Kanye video.
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  8. It turns out he is mad because he has to train my students on a camera that none of them know how to use, so that we can take it out to the desert and...film a falcon!!
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    I made @aprilkquioh pose for this picture. She does not know how to operate the RED, but she is a good sport.
  9. The falcon's owner was a German ex-pat named Laura who had received the bird as a gift at a dinner party. She is the Most Interesting Woman In The World.
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  10. After we watched the falcon completely ignore the sacrificial duck we had brought along with us for the filming, Laura tied a live pigeon on a cord and swung it in the air until the falcon went for it.
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    I could not make this up. She kept yelling at the very polite Qatari student who was supposed to release the bird's hood (once they can see, they will fly at anything tempting) and the girl kept saying, "I'm scared!" In front of several Bedouins and other people we had been told to Absolutely Not Offend, Laura shouted in her German accent, "Oh, don't be such a pussy!" I died.
  11. Then we gave the bird some time to himself.
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    His name was Ramas. He was beautiful and terrifying.
  12. Finally, as the sunlight started to fade, we hooded Ramas and began posing for photos. Everyone knew damn well that this was my moment. After all the hype, one of the kids managed to snap this as the sky went dark. One aggressive Instagram filter later and my profile picture was born.
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  13. She made us do this
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    Suggested by @aprilkquioh