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Dispatch from Accra

Akosua AnyidohoThe spring semester started in the third week of January with the usual weeklong orientation geared towards getting the 30 students to learn about their new environment and to settle in. One of the highlights of the orientation was the “internship fair” which brought together thirty-three representatives from some of our partner organizations and institutions, which offer placements to our interns. That face-to-face interaction between representatives and the students followed by Q&A was mutually beneficial. In the words of a student, “the internship and volunteer experiences have been inextricably linked to our overwhelmingly positive time in Ghana. The internship and volunteer placements enabled us to engage with the community and to learn how to interact and communicate cross-culturally.”
With regard to academics, nineteen courses were offered this semester taught by 16 accomplished local scholars and Dr. Renee Blake, a visiting NYU professor. As was the case the previous semester, one of her courses, Sex, Gender and Language, was opened to University of Ghana students and was held at that campus based on the long-standing agreement between the two institutions. It is heartwarming to report that the local students are interested in joint classes.
Our students enjoyed group excursion to various parts of the country. A student blogged as follows, “How many GNU sites offer three overnight weekend trips throughout the country for free? Each student who traveled on these programs was grateful for the opportunity to see more of Ghana.”
NYU Accra also hosted intersession programs from NYU Abu Dhabi and Steinhardt’s Department of Occupational Therapy. And throughout the semester, the staff prepared to host six NYU summer programs, including Stern International Volunteers who visited the site for the first time. There were a number of faculty visits, and we are happy to report that Dr. Michael Gomez of the History Department, a member of the Accra Site Specific Advisory Committee, was one of them.

Former NYU Berlin Student Logan Verdoorn talks about his President’s Service Award

Logan VerboornA former student at NYU Berlin, Logan Verdoorn received a President’s Service Award this year for launching a cooperative theater program with students from NYU Berlin and a local high school. After graduating from Tisch, Logan decided to return to Berlin, where he now lives. He shares his experience:
This year, I won a President’s Service Award for my work creating a collaborative, multi-lingual theater cooperation between a group of students studying at NYU Berlin and a class from a nearby Berlin high school. The students did incredible and inspiring work over the course of the semester, enabling us to write and build a show that was performed as part of NYU Berlin’s Farewell Event. The final product included entirely student-produced monologues, scenes, dance, music, improv and poetry.
As much of an honor as it was to receive the award, I have never been much for accolades (says the former Tisch Drama student) and what interests me far more than gloating or grandstanding is sharing with you the conception, creation and implementation of the project in the hopes of describing what I learned about global education from the process and through working with such an amazing group of students.
The concept of the GNU is one that, while offering a great number of incredible opportunities and benefits, is not without its specific challenges, not the least of which being the difficulty for students to break out of the so-called “NYU Bubble” and branch out into the city and community in which they find themselves. This was one of the issues we were hoping to address with the original idea for a cooperation between the Kurt-Tucholski Oberschule (KTO) and NYUB. Berlin being the artistic metropolis that it is and I being the theater junkie that I am, theater seemed a perfect and obvious medium through which to begin such a collaboration and so it was.
Despite all my planning, I was entirely unprepared for and wholly overwhelmed by the students’ unending curiosity, astoundingly personal writing, and deep dedication throughout the entire process. Their passion for cultural exploration, their commitment to examining and adopting a new community, and their fascination with communication – whether lingual, physical, or otherwise – all helped to build a new, creative, exploratory lens through which to view the concept of Foreign. This is the type of self-examination and cultural outreach that can be the new face of the ‘Study Abroad’ experience in a society that is becoming increasingly globalized – an experience that I hope to continue supporting as the theater project progresses.

Upgrading Technology & Infrastructure at the Global Sites

Computer lab at NYU ParisMadeline Friedman, from the Communications team in Global Technology Services in New York, discusses upgrading IT at the global sites, starting with the recent upgrade at NYU Paris.
Sometimes a small change can have a large impact. When it comes to life at NYU’s global study away sites, a simple IT upgrade can revolutionize everything from professors’ teaching styles, to students’ learning abilities, to administrative staff’s workload.
That will be the case with the NYU Academic Center in Paris, France, which has just moved to a new building with new technical capacities in the city’s Latin Quarter. “It’s going to be night and day in terms of the technical possibilities and capabilities there,” said Janet Alperstein, Senior Director of Academic Support for NYU Global Programs said.
Upgrades Provide New Possibilities
Several upgrades to IT services have been done so that students, faculty, and staff will have a seamless technological experience at the NYU Paris campus. The campus will have NYU-NET wired and wireless, that includes internet, voice, video, and data, ensuring access is consistently available. NYU print services will also be a new feature that will allow students to print documents from any computer via print stations at the Academic Center. The Center will also have increased capacity for videoconferencing, boasting two dedicated videoconferencing classrooms with full equipment.
“Now, it’ll be as if we are already on the New York server. It will make accessing certain applications easier and faster,” said Ivy Vo, Housing and Student Life Assistant for NYU Paris.
Unique Challenges
Updating the IT infrastructure at NYU’s locations across the globe often requires creative problem-solving skills for unique challenges that arise in different regions.
Global Service Delivery Manager Brian Schiesser mentioned that upgrading services and wiring in old buildings can be a challenge in cities like Paris. “One problem we had [in the new Paris Academic Center] was that one side of the flooring was weaker than the other side, because they were built in different centuries.”
Despite the challenges it provided for technology, many people appreciated the old Center’s charms. “The building had moulding, the floors creaked. It felt old world,” said Schiesser. “The new building is art deco. It’s in an amazing location. The top floor has 360 degree views of the city. Both locations are very different spaces, but both are great and come with their own benefits.”