I’m back in Abu Dhabi for another Candidate Weekend. As I did during the November Candidate Weekend, I gave a 75-minute class on “Cosmopolitanism Now,” which resulted in a very lively discussion about the nature of cosmopolitanism and both opportunities and problems that a cosmopolitan perspective presents. The group I had was every bit as impressive as the one I had in November (ten of whom will be attending NYUAD come fall).
The candidates spent their afternoon looking at sample rooms in the Sama Tower, where NYUAD students and faculty will live, before visiting the Marina Mall. Having seen the mall during my last visit, I opted instead for a walk back to the hotel along the corniche, conversing with a colleague and enjoying the lovely weather.
The highlight of the day, once again, was the trip to the desert, where we stopped at a camp outside the town of Al Khatim. Upon arrival there was the now obligatory run up to the top of the sand dune (I let one of the students beat me to the top) …
followed by some bonding in front of the fire and over dinner.
And making the acquaintance of a mother camel and her baby. [Click on the continuation link below for more camel pictures.]
If you were there on the desert trip, leave a comment and let us know what you thought of the evening — or any aspect of your visit to Abu Dhabi.
Less than 24h have passed since I left Abu Dhabi and I am still trying to assimilate the amazing two days that I spent there. Sitting down in San Francisco Airport, listening to some of my favourite songs in Arabic that keep vivid the spirit of this Candidate weekend, I cannot believe that I was given the chance of participating in this unique experience. I have more than 6 hours to think and try to put together in my mind what it meant to me to have met so many wonderful people this weekend. The best way I can come up with is imitating professor Patell’s technique of giving an example that communicates an idea. In his case it served to initiate a dynamic discussion of what Cosmopolitanism is, in my case it aims to explain my interest and support for NYU Abu Dhabi.
Among United World College students- UWC is a worldwide movement that selects students from almost every country in the world that share the values of making education a force to unite people for peace and a sustainable future – there is this fear – almost resentment – of not being prepared to face the world outside. In my school I am surrounded by 199 other students from more than 100 countries who share similar values from me, people from all around the world who have a growing passion for cultural understanding and celebration of difference. What happens when these young students graduate and have to face the outside world? Would some of them want to go home to enrol at a university which lacks the idealistic and dedicated educational system that they enjoyed at a UWC? To believe that any university in the world shares these values or requires them from its students would be utopian. Many of these students have the opportunity of receiving good scholarships at an American university. But even then, how can they face the challenge of being in an institution that does not necessarily require from its students any general values? Would it not be harsh to realise that the people who surround you may literary not care about your efforts and concerns to achieve world peace? However, to what extent is this good? Are we not being educated to “spread the word” about these values to the rest of the world? I had to ask myself: How would I feel surrounded by a group of highly academically qualified Americans that attend University to obtain a very prestigious degree in a very selective American University? To be completely honest, even though the academic program would be one of the most rigorous in the world, I would not feel completely satisfied. To be honest, I feel I need some more motivation, idealism, contrast, curiosity to discover and understand the world, global connection and perspective. It is true that life is about encountering other people with different opinions, but I believe that education is one of the most valuable treasures that one can ever have and therefore I want to go to a place that really inspires and motivates me. This will provide me with the necessary tools to contribute to the world much better afterwards. Where is the global perspective in a University that is, after all, selecting students on the basis of SAT scores and GPA’s without really getting to know their applicants more than in an hour interview? Am I really joining a truly global university that will allow me to keep developing the same spirit that incited me to apply to a United World College?
As Cyrus Patell told us in our sample class not to worry, that the example would end up relating to our topic; in this case the connection comes now: I was immersed in these thoughts about my future when I first discovered NYU Abu Dhabi, the main reason why I am writing this. Even though I missed the presentation in my school, I read a poster announcing it and started researching about it. I almost got addicted to find out more and more. The “World’s Honors College” happened to offer me the chance of visiting and spending a weekend with some other candidates. Before this trip I could only imagine what the NYUAD spirit was like, but since Carol Brandt’s opening of the weekend and welcome at the Sheraton Hotel on Friday morning I knew this was the place I had been looking for. I could see it in the candidates: people I had known for less than 24h and yet I connected with some of them in a very special manner. Spontaneous dances in the middle of the desert, under the starts, at the rhythm of a music that awakens in me an ancient attitude to express, connect and most importantly celebrate difference. A vision of education from a global perspective; a dynamism to teach while researching, to engage young, committed students in the teacher’s research. To educate the young, global leaders of tomorrow. This candidate weekend has given me the opportunity to confirm my vision of NYU Abu Dhabi as a unique University that looks for students who will be committed to be involved with the local community, who are interested in the current issues that shape the UAE of the 21st Century and are prepared to accept the important role that NYUAD students will play in it. Students that are not fearful to ask to a government representative to what extent does the UAE plan to become a more democratic country or what are the exact boundaries of the academic freedom on campus. Students that can learn much from one another. Students that will have multiple facets as researchers, volunteers, entrepreneurs, critical thinkers, communicators.
This is my vision of NYU Abu Dhabi and the reason why I feel inspired every time I think of this unique project. It is this spirit what I believe will create a truly interconnected and cosmopolitan world – the one we were talking about in Cyrus Patell’s class – and the one I am committed to maintain throughout my life. Ultimately, this thinking process has made realise that it is this spirit which has driven me even before applying to a UWC or finding out about NYUAD, and it is the same that I will defend wherever I go. The most powerful image that I have taken with me from this weekend is the eagerness and capacity to make connections in our 21st century world of all the participants!
@Irene — It was a pleasure to meet you and listen to your ideas during our class on cosmopolitanism. I share your enthusiasm both for the vision behind NYUAD and for the fellow travelers whom we both met this weekend. I’m hoping that more of them will chime in here!
Irene, that was wonderful. I think it cannot be denied that something very special is happening in Abu Dhabi, and with the fantastic candidates I was greatly fortunate to meet this weekend, I have no doubt that this extraordinary campus will be enriched with incredible students such as yourself.
As for the night in the desert, I really enjoyed how a sense of community seemed to suddenly surge into the candidates. If for nothing else, I will remember that night, and this whole weekend, as when I gained some of the best friends anyone could find.
I agree with all of you. NYU AD is a truly inspiring institution that has a refreshing approach to learning.
I happened to attend the class on Public Policy and Democracy by professor Rogan Kersh. The same spirit of engaging in intellectual discourse from a modern and globalized perspective was evident in the moments we shared in this class. Most importantly though is the contact I was able to establish with the students and faculty outside the traditional classroom setting. To be quite honest, it was this moments that were the most defining of the overall learning experience. The student diversity was exceptional and it provided a playing field that was a replica of the global stage that we are all significant a part of.
The sharp contrast that the desert trip offered to the urban setting of Abu Dhabi was a welcome surprise. I really enjoyed the short and tiring hike to the top of the sand dune. There is certainly no doubt that the desert is a certain route to escape the city life once in a while and a great way to remember the January candidate weekend.
PS: @Irene I like your long piece 🙂
Please check your inbox early next week for my response to this blog 🙂
May the force be with you.
@Yannick: I like the image of community surging into candidates. Personally, I think it was a mixture of the inspiration of the occasion and also a little bit of concentrated hard work: running up that sand dune together! (Peter seems to agree with that!)
@Peter: I wish I had the opportunity to sit in on Rogan’s class! I think you’re right, though, about the importance of faculty-student interactions outside the traditional classroom setting. As a Faculty Fellow-in-Residence at NYUNY, I’ve been working to create precisely those kind of informal interactions as well as more structured co-curricular activities. Because of its setup, and particularly in the early years, I suspect that those kinds of interactions will take place much more easily and much more often than they do here in Washington Square. We professors often tell students that they will learn as much during their college years from the peers and from experiences outside the classroom as they will inside the classroom. I think that will be even more emphatically true at NYUAD.
I fell basically the same thing as you guys. The trip was really inspiring. It not only fulfilled my expectation but also gave me some surprise [ Such as the short but also long hike to the top of sand dune. To me, it’s like all students climbed up the hill with each other to see the real world in a higher position. The same thing that will happen in the coming 4 years, isn’t it?]
To be honest, before the trip, I was a little bit doubt about whether such an outstanding education system would actually be true, because what being described in the website is quite attractive. In China, I tried hard to offset the disadvantage of a completely domestic and non-creative education through a lot of effort. So, I just could not convince myself when such a relatively ideal education opportunity come to me. But after several introductory session from Carol, president of UYN and representative of AD’s government, after an exciting class and a nice conversation on bus with Cyrus Patell, after making friends with candidates all around the world, I was finally convinced. A new world of cosmopolitanism is emerging. Trough the education in NYU AD, we would become an important part of it. Maybe a booster, a facilitator, a stabilizer or an theory researcher.
Really hope I could get the chance to study at NYU AD, to get closer to my dream, that is, to promote human being’s civilization.
PS: I didn’t find the recommended book on Amazon.com. I don’t know whether it is because Chinese government blocked some information. Could you kindly tell me if there is any other available resources that I can get or read the book?
I agree with every one’s comments thus far. NYU:AD is certainly an amazing project that I feel honored to be a part of. This candidate weekend alone has been incredibly revealing and educational in itself. At my school , we talk a lot about achieving a global perspective- and I believe Abu Dhabi , in its own unique way, has something to offer to everyone by helping expand the borders of our individual paradigms. Never in my life have I witnessed so much diversity and progress in one place, a value that the class of Abu Dhabi 2014 will surely manifest, considering the diversity of the prospective student ‘finalists’.
This trip to the desert was in particular a personal experience for me as I found it strangely similar to home. No, I don’t live in the desert; if anything I live near the opposite, in the middle of a New England forest- but nonetheless, that feeling of harmony with nature was still present out there. In the desert, just like at home, I can escape from the bustle of everyday life to the quiet of a place intertwined with the natural world. (Yes, I suppose I am a corny tree-hugger, or in this case… dune hugger?)
But really, the trip to the desert really helped complete my diverse image of Abu Dhabi, as it is a place where not only diversity is seen in the people, but where diversity can be found in many other aspects of society, even the landscape. In a single day, you can shift from gorgeous beach to garden to city to desert and then back. Really it is a wondrous place, and the PERFECT place, in that manner, for a broad yet in-depth liberal arts education to take place. It is not often that you think about it here in the US, but a true liberal arts education should expose you to more than just varied educational fields, but varied walks of life- for the two are inevitably intertwined. NYU:AD offers this new dimension to education on a daily basis; a quality that I really think will revolutionize the way the liberal arts education is approached.
@Yingwei: The book I mentioned is Kwame Anthony Appiah, Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World Strangers. Try clicking this link.
Unfortunately, I have three exams tomorrow and will not be able to FULLY express how NYUAD inspired me and changed me as a person.
I will however comment about one aspect.
I have never in my life seen a more perfect combination of entertainment, passion, and knowledge. None of the participants in the candidate weekend were “observers”. Every single individual contributed in his/her own way and created a” Utopian” society that embraced all cultures.
During the dinner at the palace, I, along with 4-5 other candidates, were seated on table 1 and were graced by the presence of Prof. Al Bloom and his wife. After a long talk about social and political problems in each of our countries, the conversation seemed to be heading towards the topic of ” culture and establishing new societies”. Whenever a candidate would describe his country’s traditions ( such as the Lebanese cultural dance for instance), Al Bloom would respond ” Well, from now on, this dance will be part of OUR culture here in our new society in Abu Dhabi ” .
It was at that moment when I realized that I was one of the few witnesses of the birth of a new world. This newly fabricated community exceeded the boundaries of tolerance and strives towards the integration of “love”.
We should all be thankful for having had the chance to participate in what seems to be one of our time’s biggest accomplishments.
We are blessed.
SAM! much agreed. I wish the Candidate weekend had never ended, but if it had to come to an end, I wish all of us would be accepted to the actual NYU AD program. Living in boring Pittsburgh does not compare, whatsoever, to life in Abu Dhabi with you guys.
I know many of you guys had a moment during your time there that captivated and moved you. Despite the amazing fun we had at the desert, my moment was the dinner at the Palace. Not only was the dinner amazing, but I came to realize that everyone at NYU AD is amazing, each in their own way. Sitting with Mr. Sexton at the table, a lot of our discussion revolved around surprises (both positive and negative) that we had experienced while in Abu Dhabi. I honestly could not think of any negative surprises for I felt my weekend in Abu Dhabi was definitely the greatest weekend I have ever had.
That’s just me though. 🙂 I’m interested in hearing what all you guys think was the key moment that made/broke NYU AD for you.
MISS ALL OF YOU A TONNNNNN!!!!!!!!!
PS. Mr. Patell, what was the book you were telling me about at breakfast the first day in AD. It was about a Lebanese girl escaping to the US. I’m interested in reading that.
1. Peter, I was lucky enough to join you in the Public Policy class taught by Professor Kersh, and I agree with you, the most significant difference that I encountered at NYUAD was that ability to have full communication with the faculty and students, not isolated exclusively to the classroom setting. It is remarkable that the situation at NYUAD facilitates this unique relationship, one which allows for a more complete, multidisciplinary approach to education. For instance, despite it not being my area of interest, I talked a great deal about biological science with Scicchitano, an area that in a more traditional educational environment I might not have experienced. It is difficult to know what will captivate your interest, your passions when you aren’t exposed to new areas academically and culturally. Very cool to have s setup that allows for exploration, with ease, of all the fascinated stuff going on around the world, whether it be observing the desert from the top of a sand dude (sorry for running ahead of you Professor Patell!) or exposure to new ideas and schools of thought.
Struck with visions of contrast and likeness.
Extreme differences encompassing my sensory being.
Arriving in Coruscant and spending a night in Tatooine.
Spending the weekend in an ultra modern city of glass and fiber optics reflecting the abstraction of the internet in a tangible environment.
There is no debate that cosmopolitanism existed long before the internet but are they not very similar? In this technological and informational hub (the world’s physical Google) where infinite resources are always close by, I have come to appreciate the vastness of our world so often taken for granted and have humbly accepted my ignorance. I have acknowledged the significance multimedia relations is playing but never understood how small the global community is becoming because of these relations.
On the Wilson 96 Bus route home from my high school I was struck by what a single street in my city includes. Everyday my own hour long bus ride offers up authentic stores and places of worship (although some I suspect to be tax shelters) from every corner of our world! My neighbourhood, my schools, even my local video store, includes the sights, sounds and tastes of the whole world. The stores once Italian and Scottish are East Indian, West Indian and Afghani for now. Thai and Chinese are recent arrivals to the strip malls. Our new Business Improvement Area made up of all the shop owners in our immediate neighbourhood is led by a Somali man with a successful driving school.
Please excuse the quality! Youtube really limits quality!
My city, Toronto, envisions and models itself as a friendlier (smaller) New York. This city is beyond multicultural; we are the melting pot. In order to survive, our nation (especially this city) requires immigrants and welcomes refugees (some conditions apply). In a way, this idea of acceptance and promotion of immigration is what our world is very quickly becoming – a cosmopolitan where every race, nationality, and human being is interdependent on each other’s respect and co operation. Supported by the success of international multi media along with humanity’s pursuit of knowledge the world’s diversity has become condensed.
So where does Abu Dhabi come in? As Al Bloom mentioned, cosmopolitan goes beyond toleration, it is about understanding and respect. My toleration for diversity has been replaced with an excitement for differences. Where Toronto is abundant in exposure and toleration, Abu Dhabi is pushing for proficiency in global understanding. I feel the passion to learn about my fellow peers and their cultural history.
Abu Dhabi is my master and I am its padawan…with so much to learn and hard trials ahead i have only the force to embrace and my mind to clear so that I may become one with our world.
@Samir: The book I mentioned to you was The Night Counter by Alia Yunis. The novel is about a Lebanese American family; its driving conceit is that the matriarch of the clan, who has moved to Los Angeles to live with a grandson, is recounting her life to Scheherazade (who is immortal). But she won’t divulge certain details, so Scheherazade does a little investigating of her own … You can find the book on amazon.com, and there is a website: http://www.aliayunis.com. Yunis also maintains a Facebook page, and she teaches film and writing at Zayed University in Abu Dhabi.
“When we survey our lives and endeavors we soon observe that almost the whole of our actions and desires are bound up with the existence of other human beings. […] We eat food that others have grown, wear clothes that others have made, live in houses that others have built. The greater part of our knowledge and beliefs has been communicated to us by other people through the medium of a language which others have created. Without language our mental capacities would be poor indeed…” – Albert Einstein
The most incredible thing I witnessed at the Candidate Weekend at NYU Abu Dhabi was the coming together of amazing people from literally all over the world. People with vast and unique experiences, from all kinds of backgrounds, exchanging ideas and sharing that “unquenchable thirst” for cooperation, in learning and transforming the world.
It fascinated me that we were able to come together for this – in the middle of an Arabian desert! This is something whicht is only possible in the world of today, with air travel and that powerful tool which is English (language, as Einstein observed) – which connects us all and allows us to communicate, regardless of our national origins. It is something that was simply not feasible for our ancestors of centuries ago, and to have this opportunity nowadays is fantastic.
Now take for instance the Burj Khalifa, in Dubai. It was designed by an American architect, based on traditional architecture of the region, built by a South Korean construction company, using materials imported from foreign countries….We see how interdependent humans are, as the quote explained – and not just within a particular society, but at a global level as well. What we saw at NYU Abu Dhabi, a vision to surpass boundaries and promote this global interaction, is revolutionary.
I read what all of you have written, and I cannot disagree with anything said. I can only say that even 3 days in NYU AD transformed me utterly (“Easter 1916” – some Yeats’ fans here?:) I cannot imagine what will happen if I have the great opportunity to study there.
One thing I really wanted to share with you is related to my birthday. I spent my 18th birthday (in Bulgaria this is when you are considered to become an adult) with about 40 people, almost strangers to me, at the top of hill in a desert, thousands of kilometers away from my home. I cannot but think of this night in a symbolic way. You people did not even really know me, and yet you were singing “Happy Birthday” to me. I felt like the whole world was greeting me, welcoming me in my future. I cannot describe this feeling, the strongest I have ever had in my life. Climbing up the hill all together, striving to reach the top, looking at the stars, dancing together – all seemed to me like a sacred ritual…an initiation. It was really awkward. Now that I am thinking of it, this seems to me almost surreal, but I know it was true, more true than anything that has happened to me. This was a new beginning, since I felt there were no boundaries in front of me. I felt strong and brave. I felt safe. I felt I could live my life meaningfully, and I was on the right track.
This is all. Thank you. Thank you for the most meaningful night I have ever had.
I just got word of this blog and it seems like a great way we can all have conversation regarding our experience at the Candidate Weekend. Not only do I share the sentiments above, but I also feel that NYU Abu Dhabi will quickly set a precedent for an unparalleled campus life, both due to its diversity and location.
If a three-day interaction can help us all learn so much about each other and ourselves through the perspectives of others, I can only imagine how gratifying a 4-year undergraduate experience at NYU AD would be. For all of us who were fortunate enough to experience Professor Kersh’s Public Policy and Democracy class, I think the experience showed us the unique atmosphere for learning that the school will provide its students. As an activity in the class, we each recalled our first vivid political memory. Although I was excited to share my unique experience of meeting Bill Clinton in elementary school, other classmates shared political experiences from all around the world, far different from the American dynamic of politics.
The class helped me realize the potential for liberal arts at Abu Dhabi. With all of you guys, our classes would be so much more insightful and informative. For me, my passion for Model UN will really be introduced to a global perspective with delegates not only acting on country positions they have memorized, but actually being young diplomats from the countries they are representing.
As you can see, I’m really excited about studying at Abu Dhabi, but even more so about living out the liberal arts college experience there. I feel we all have certain passions – for me, Model United Nations, Nonprofit work, and political involvement- and I am confident that we all can extend these passions into making Abu Dhabi a competitive and distinguished institution.
You all have been really great. It’s amazing how personally I’ve gotten to know you all, considering the relatively short period for which we met. I hope that most, if not all of us, have the additional privilege of attending NYU AD next year and defining the college experience it will be known for.
All the best,
I’m in Turin, Italy right now for a session of Erasmian European Youth Parliament. About the CW: I just cannot get by that without expressing my joy for being there and participating in such an astonishing, mind-blowing and mind-bonding experience.Astonishing because of the different nationalities and just the sheer variety of cultures and thinkings, mind-blowing because of the vast size of the whole project and mind-bonding because of all the new connections everyone has made there. I cannot be thankful enough for the NYU AD staff for widening my horizon by a million light-years. This experience made me realize that in our world borders don’t matter, only what future generations can offer do.
As I sit now between two all to eager freshmen typing away mindlessly between classes, I cannot help but reflect on another academic institution…I cannot help but think of the sand dunes, azan, palm trees, arabic calligraphy, and true richness of the city of Abu Dhabi as I sit in this sterile computer lab as it snows just past thesse walls. That Candidate Weekend was a little piece of the magic, yes I am super cliche, of NYUAD. Just think about it! In only three days, we all found a family, we learned so much, and we all fell in love. If that’s not what they call “meant to be” I don’t know what is.
One of the strongest back-to-reality-moments for me was when I was sitting in my dormroom with my roommate. I was preparing for my presentation on Muslim women in politics and I was reading a magazine I had picked up in Abu Dhabi. On the cover there’s a woman dressed in a burka holding a colourful handbad she had knit herself. The main article was on how women in rural parts of the UAE are returning to traditional crafts, like weaving, to make products to sell. I thought this form of self empowerment was completely ironic given these women’s dress! The article literally has pictures of women holding black veils over their faces while working with sewing machines. I could rant about the burka for days, but I’ll cut myself short as not to bore you all. When I was reading this article, my roommate looked at the cover and asked, with mild disgust, why this woman was so covered. As it turns out, she had never seen a burka before.
This kind of distance we so often rely upon for our “safety” has made America, my society, one of the most isolated societies I know! Coming to Abu Dhabi and talking to such a wealth of intellectuals was fabulous and refreshing. I know no other college will match NYUAD in its breth and depth of education, both academic as well as social.
Al-hamdu-lillah! Thank you all for this opportunity.
I absolutely agree with what all the candidates have to say. Being a part of the Candidate Weekend, around such intellectually enhanced yet warm-hearted individuals, was truly a life-changing experience. I have to admit, I never expected that our bonding as friends would reach such a great extent since we only had 2 days to spend with other. But I was amazed at how much sorrow I had accumulated at the thought of leaving Abu Dhabi, and departing from each one of those individuals that had touched my heart in the period of those 48 hours. Whether a candidate, ambassador or member of faculty, each one of the individuals I met and interacted with, have inspired me and made my experience an unforgettable one. On that note, I would just like to thank you all for that.
As for what I particularly loved about this trip, it has to be ‘The Hospitality Suite!’ That was the one place where we could all hang out (even if it meant the 42 of us), share the craziest conversations and eat all the food we want (It was overwhelming, it just didnt stop coming). Jokes aside, this was actually the area where new friendships blossomed, where we learnt from each other as distinct individuals, where we basically formed a new family away from home. I remember one of the conversations I had with Darina from Bulgaria, regarding the Hijab, where we discussed different aspects of this form of covering for Muslim women and I was able to clear a few doubts she had in mind. This then resulted in a very interesting discussion with a few of the girls and helped me understand the different perceptions people have of the Hijab. Being the only candidate in Hijab there, I was glad to have shared my opinions with the rest of the candidates, just as much as I appreciated their opinions on the topic.
Our night at the desert was simply remarkable. Despite the difficult and tiring struggle to the top, it all seemed worth it when we sat up there, looking over at what seemed like the entire of Abu Dhabi, absolutely beautiful. We admired, conversed, laughed, and even devised crazy ideas to get to the bottom (I have to admit, they really were crazy ideas!) and then shared a great dinner over the fire, adorned with simple and engaging conversations between us. The dance was actually a great way to get everybody together, and enjoy as a group. I remember the conversation we had with you Mr.Patel, regarding Shakespeare and the way his different plays are acted out in modern versions. It was quite insightful to learn of the different plays appreciated in the different countries and certains aspects of his work that I had never come across before.
I came into this experience eager to discover whether NYU AD is the right place for me and I was just blown away by the hospitality, enthusiasm, great vision and diversity that this institution entails. I have been inspired by NYU AD’s main objective, to mould us as young individuals into future leaders, ready to confront the challenges of the modern era and make a difference for the betterment of mankind. And it is true, this is not possible, unless we have a fusion of perspectives, opinions, and experiences from different backgrounds, which is what exactly NYU AD’s class of 2014 will have to offer.
I look forward to being a part of this great institution and seeing you in September! 🙂
First of all I would like to thank Prof. Cyrus for creating this great blog; it is, as Waqaas said, a great way to share our experiences at the candidate weekends.
I am from Morocco; I attended the November candidate weekend, and have been accepted for admission to NYU Abu Dhabi. Getting into the school was the best thing that ever happened to me. I wish you all the best of luck, and hope I’ll have the chance to meet you next year in Abu Dhabi!
I see the run up to the top of the sand dune is now obligatory :). I still remember standing atop the dune and enjoying the desert’s magnificent vistas; priceless rewards the dune offered to those who survived the exhausting ascent to the top. That night, the stars were shining gracefully, as if they were celebrating the mystical wedding of beauty and emptiness, for the desert I was staring at could only be born of such a union. My “new friends in the desert” and I were totally amazed by the splendor that was surrounding us. We – representatives of the world – were together witnessing the bewitching beauty of that part of the planet. Those moments made me wonder why the nations we came from couldn’t do just like us; why they couldn’t, as nations of the world, forget borders and frontiers, contribute together to preserving our precious earth, and share equally its resources. These are perhaps questions to be discussed with Prof. Cyrus hopefully next year; for this is the kind of questions we’ll be trying to answer at NYU AD, questions to which the world urgently needs answers. This global vision behind NYU AD is the main reason why I decided to spend the next 4 years of my life there; I believe that it makes it much more than an ordinary university; NYU AD will be, inchallah, the cradle of a bright future for our world.
I can’t wait to go back to Abu Dhabi, and meet my “new friends in the desert” again. I wish you good luck on your applications, and sincerely hope to see you all in September! Thanks again Prof. Cyrus for this blog.(By the way, would it be okay if I post the link to the blog on the “NYU Abu Dhabi class of 2014” Facebook group, so that we can have more people from the previous weekends sharing their experiences in Abu Dhabi?)
I have not ever had an experience as unbelievable as the Candidate Weekend around two weeks ago. Living here in Kuwait, the opportunity to socialise with people from an array of ethnicities, cultures and nationalities is so limited. Like I told a bunch of fellow candidates on my trip, I hunger for international diversity, for the privilege of placing myself amongst a plethora of brilliant minds from a vast range of backgrounds…I havent even met people here in Kuwait from half the nationalies that came to Abu Dhabi!!
The faculty, staff and students alike were all unbelievable spectacular. A thing I really admire about NYUAD is its intimate nature towards its prospective candidates. In high school, teachers remain teachers…and students remain students – furthermore, they tend to group themselves into cliques, stubbornly refusing to mingle with anyone outside their ‘comfort zone’. Yet in NYUAD, the ease at which we were able to interact with the faculty and our fellow candidates was something that really touched me. Never before have I seen such an easy-going, welcoming nature amongst a group of total strangers!
As for the desert trip…well, you can’t get much better than that, can you? The starry skies, cool winter breezes and the pungent tinge of arab coffee imbued into the air created the perfect night for (a) Darina’s birthday (which I’m sure she enjoyed to the fullest) and (b) the paradigmatic memory of NYUAD which will live in the memory for a quite a while.
Thank you once again, to all the faculty, staff and students who made this dream of an experience a life-changing one for me.
Surprisingly, or perhaps unsurprisingly in hindsight, I simply felt at home throughout the transformational Candidate Weekend experience. The most impressive and rewarding aspect of the trip was without a doubt the fellow candidates. Everyone was fun to be around, engaging to converse with, open to and accepting of new ideas, and because of the uniquely different background and countries the candidates were raised in, it was fascinating to get a glimpse into the lifestyle and culture in different lands just by talking to fellow candidates. The student body at NYU AD definitely was the deciding factor that made it easy for me to stamp the reply card…