Last year, Rob Cameron, Prague’s BBC correspondent, approached NYU Prague with the idea of launching PragueCast – a podcast with stories of Prague told through the eyes of our students. The plan was ambitious: to produce monthly 20-minute editions, each with a different theme chosen by students, and distribute it to an audience beyond NYU Prague. Students would write, record, produce, edit, and market the episodes – all as non-credit extracurricular program that would meet in the evenings.
One year later, the results surprise everyone. Two teams of students – one in the fall, one in the spring- have produced six high-quality episodes that tell stories in a sensitive, insightful and dramatic way. Last semester students recorded footage from the 25th anniversary celebrations of the Velvet Revolution, including interviews at a demonstration against the current Czech president. This semester, an episode entitled Survivors was inspired by the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII; there are stories about a Holocaust survivor, a WW2 pilot shot down over Nazi Germany, and a victim of the Communist era who was imprisoned in the 1950s.
This voluntary, non-credit program is very popular – and not just among journalism majors. Students of all disciplines apply, and it is becoming increasingly competitive to join. The podcast includes original theme music composed by Dalton Corr, a music student who was at NYU Prague when the program started in the fall.
According to Tom Ishizuka a sophomore in CAS studying economics environmental studies, „we were able to work on every aspect of podcast production: recording, interviewing, script writing, sound editing, and presenting. I decided to participate on a whim due to my personal interest in podcasts, and I’ve found that I now possess a greater appreciation for some of the shows that I listen to. .. I felt the quality of programming we were able to produce was exceptionally high.“
Winona Rinkacs agrees. “The PragueCast was a great experience for me. It allowed me to interact with locals and explore parts of Prague I would not have seen otherwise. Thanks to the PragueCast, I was able to talk to an elementary student, a gulag survivor, and a matchmaker about what life in the Czech Republic is like…. I enjoyed co-writing the script to string all the individual stories together and presenting in Rob’s fancy sound studio.”
Is Rob Cameron satisfied with the project? “I’ve been genuinely impressed with what we’ve been able to achieve in less than a year. This is thanks to the incredible dedication and energy shown by the PragueCast teams. Every Tuesday night we’ve hunched over our laptops and the occasional pizza, turning vague ideas into broadcast-quality audio. It’s been a delight to work with them.I can’t wait to meet a fresh bunch of PragueCasters in the fall of 2015.”
You can download all episodes at https://soundcloud.com/nyupraguecast.
Photos by Laura Zablit
This semester’s Spring Break at NYU Buenos Aires meant a special visit from North America to South America, when 22 undergraduate students from Steinhardt Honors Program came for a full week of experiential learning, lectures with local experts and visit to compare birth and parenting practices and children’s development across cultures in New York and Buenos Aires. The hands on fieldwork in Argentina was part of the NY-based course “Survey of Developmental Psychology,” which has a parallel offering through NYU Buenos Aires’ curriculum too.
The schedule of activities included a community service day, which took the group and their professor and academic assistants to Hogar Nuestra Señora de Valle, a children’s shelter, where the aim was to paint a colorful mural for the entranceway.
Hogar Nuestra Señora del Valle is an institution providing shelter, food and education as well as some health and psychological support services to minors in precarious circumstances. Currently 33 children receive care in this home, where a team of 49 professionals and advanced students of psychology and social work all join forces to provide basic needs as well as scholastic and life skills for a fresh start. The 22 students from NYU-NY, led by Steinhardt Professor Gigliana Melzi, worked with the Hogar’s staff to plan the mural’s color schemes before painting. The entire cheerful project was completed in 3 hours – two dozen pairs of hands makes for fast artistry!
The project was a worthy hands-on experience of how children in vulnerable social situations are given aid and motivation. Plus, the visitors had opportunity to create a public piece of art. This teamwork shows how community environments and shared public space can be changed for the better in just a couple hours when all work together.
The students had a fantastic time painting, their artwork came out stunningly (as you can see in the photos), and they made a meaningful, lasting impact on this local community in Argentina. Thanks to these students’ initiative and energetic teamwork, many children can have their days brightened by this beautiful vibrant façade for a colorful, even happier new home.
Thank you, Steinhardt Dean’s Global Honors Seminar!
On April 23 – 24, 2015, NYU Accra co-hosted a conference entitled The Humanities in the 21st Century Africa: Towards Alternative Models of Human Development, which brought together scholars and students for lively discussions.
The idea of a conference was mooted in the fall semester of 2014 when the academic program was suspended. It was thought that some on-going intellectual activity would be good for the site even in the absence of students. The plan was to hold the conference that semester, however, it was realized that there was not enough time to apply for funding and to put together the necessary logistics. Therefore, upon the recommendation of the NYU Accra SSAC, the conference was scheduled for Spring 2015.
In order to raise the visibility of the site as well as the conference, we decided to collaborate with our partner institution to mobilize local faculty involvement. The Institute of African Studies (IAS) of the University of Ghana was therefore approached to partner with us. This step proved mutually beneficial in the end.
The theme “The Humanities in the 21st Century Africa: Towards Alternative Models of Human Development” was selected for two reasons. First, the NYU Accra curriculum focuses largely on the Humanities, and students who study at the site are interested in the history, religion, politics, culture, fine arts, music, dance, theater arts, etc., of Ghana and Africa. The second motivation was to contribute to a current policy drive in Ghanaian and African universities, towards a proportional intake of 70% science students and 30% humanities. In fact, in the Ghanaian education system, course specialization starts in high school where students are obligated to choose from Science, Arts, Social Sciences, Business, Home Economics, etc., at a stage when they are not even certain of their future career paths. The theme was therefore selected to encourage a conversation on the value of a broad-based undergraduate education and to discuss alternative models used elsewhere.
Attendance and Participation
The conference was successful in terms of attendance and presentations. On the first day, April 23, 126 people attended the opening ceremony, including several deans and directors of collages and schools of the University of Ghana, faculty, graduate students and a number of special invited guests. The second day, 50 more people registered, making a total of 176 attendees, in addition to 35 participants from various local institutions who presented papers, took part in the Roundtable discussions or chaired the sessions. I am happy to report that eleven NYU Accra instructors, the Vice President of Global Programs, Janet Alperstein, and Hannah Bruckner from NYUAD were among the participants.
Two unique features of the conference were a poetry dramatization and dance performance and the site’s tenth anniversary celebration event, at which some notable NYU Accra faculty were recognized.
On behalf of the NYU Accra faculty and staff, we would like to thank the Global Research Initiative of the Office of the Provost, NYU, for sponsoring the conference. We also thank the convener and members of NYU Accra SSAC as well as Linda Mills, Nancy Morrison, and Matthew Santirocco for their support. Finally, we are grateful to the Institute of African Studies for partnering with us.
On Century Avenue had the opportunity to sit down with esteemed journalists and writers James and Deborah Fallows during their visit to NYU Shanghai. James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic, and the author of “China Airborne” — an outlook on China through aviation. Additionally, he also rid the world of the dreaded “Clippy” paperclip on MS Word during his tenure at Microsoft. Deborah Fallows’ latest book, “Dreaming in Chinese”, discusses her experiences with learning Chinese, whereas previously she has written about the trade-off between one’s career and the responsibilities that accompany parenting. They have both recently launched their American Futures Project, through the course of which they tour small U.S. towns on their plane. This article was written by Isabella Farr and Alhan Fakhr.
Through this insightful conversation the Fallows open up about their college romance, Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, and China from the lens of “China watchers.”
Mr. Fallows, as editor of the Harvard Crimson, and Mrs. Fallows, as a linguistics major, you were both ultimately in two very different circles. How did you meet at Harvard and how did the college romance blossom from thereon?
James Fallows: It’s a long story so we will give you the abbreviated version. We met on a blind date, it was somebody who was on The Crimson, who was also a friend of (Deb’s). She was the girlfriend of a friend of mine on The Crimson and she was a friend of (Deb’s) from the dorm and they were having a party. We got set up on a blind date. As I was working on a story, I got there fairly late to pick up Deb, but fortunately she waited and we have been together even since. That was when we were eighteen. We got married when we were twenty-one .
Deborah Fallows: Honestly we did get married kind of early. Jim was one year ahead of me in college and we met when I was a freshman and (Jim) was a sophomore and we got married right when I graduated. So we were twenty-one. I would also just like to add that Jim was the nicest person on the newspaper. One of the nice ones!
JF: And if we hadn’t have met then, we probably would have never met. Just because we were going in different directions.
Consequently, both of you studied together at Oxford University. How did this pan out and lead you to your respective careers?
JF: It was a complicated overlap. I graduated from college a year ahead of Deb in 1970 and I had a Rhodes scholarship and in those days you couldn’t get married for the first year, but after that the prohibition had run out and like many of our friends, we got married. Then Deb was also at Oxford. Deb had a great job in the experimental psychology lab, working with rats. Then we came back to Washington for two years and I started working in the magazine world, for Washington Monthly. Then we went to Texas, for Deb to do her graduate work in linguistics.
DF: That was about two and a half to three years I guess. I was in school and Jim was working for a start-up magazine in Texas at that time, called The Texas Monthly, so that was really good luck that we both had something interesting to do in the same place.
JF: Then we came back to DC and that’s when our kids started appearing. Our first one was the first baby at the Carter administration so his appearance was announced at a White House press conference in 1977. We did that and then we moved to Texas again.
In the modern day, the issue of work- personal life balance has become more and more prominent. How have you managed to balance, not only your individual lives, but both your careers and family?
JF: I think that each of us has continued to accommodate the other’s needs.
DF: I hate to sound like some old married person who is giving marriage advice or something, but I think we were very fortunate. We were very fortunate because we did get married when we were really young and in a sense grew up together. We were only twenty one and we were just getting out of college. It was also important that it was an era during the Vietnam War when there was so much chaos in America, that people didn’t plan their lives in the way that they do now. It was like you don’t want to be in this war, you want your country to be out of this war and there was an overriding sensibility surrounding the country that was driving things. You didn’t really have time to think about your own personal lives because the country was in such a mess. So that was the thing that was driving everything and the thing that made our lives and I think friend’s lives a lot less self-orientated.
JF: We came to DC to work with magazines, so I could work in magazines. we went to Texas because that is where Deb wanted to go and we found a way that was really great for us. We have each had a centre of gravity at different times.
DF: We haven’t deliberately counted off and traded off, but it was in our minds for each of us to get a chance to do things that we wanted to do individually. I wouldn’t have normally moved to DC and Jim wouldn’t have normally moved to Texas, but we did those things for each other. Also, during that period of time, again it was kind of shaped by the era. About the time we were having kids, feminism had really started and it was in full force. But it was a very strict idea that for women the definition of a successful woman was that you could do it all at once. Have your kids, have your career, be a superwoman. So I really subscribed to that at the beginning, but then when we had our second child, I realised that it was working for me the way I was told it was going to work.
In response to this ‘superwoman’ mentality, you wrote your first book, “A Mother’s Job” in 1985. This book was instantly criticized by Elizabeth Crow, in a review she wrote for the New York Times criticizing your career choices, and saying very little about the contents of your book. How did you respond to such harsh critique?
DF: It was a difficult time. The point of the book was to say it is a legitimate choice to say I don’t want to work during this period and I want to spend time raising my children. But the whole national mentality of that argument was that it was a pretext – that just meant you weren’t strong enough to do it. It was a very controversial thing to say, that I am making this deliberate positive decision to step away from my career for a while and raise these kids because I think it is important and that is what I want to do. So it took me a long time to write that book, but it was important to work through that decision in my mind. It was also difficult because I had no idea what I was stepping into.
At any point were you discouraged from writing again?
DF: I wrote this book and it came out and there was a very strong reaction to it on one side and on the other side. But oddly the people that were embracing me were all the people on the far right and the people that were criticising me were far left. It was a real growing experience. If I had written about it now, I would have known what was coming and how to handle it. But now, I think it is a legitimate choice, without such a judgemental overtone.
JF: It was a deeply dishonest review. If she (Elizabeth Crow) were looking back on it, I am sure that she would recognize that it was a political war and we just happened to be on the other side from her. The book review editor chose to write that review intentionally because it was part of the cultural war of that era.
In terms of the cultural war, the eighties did see a rise in consumer journalism. With this, was this article an example of presenting what sells, rather than what is responsible?
JF: From my perspective the war against Deb’s book was less about journalism and was more the result of a deep political tension in the US. An example now in the US would be suppose somebody was writing a memoir about his or her’s immigrant experience. The reviews from the right wing wouldn’t care about the book at all, it would just be we don’t like immigrants. I think the tensions in journalism between what you think people want to know versus what they should know, that’s just eternal in journalism. The challenge is finding the balance because you can’t make people read things. It’s just giving them enough of what they should know in a way that is as interesting as it can be. That is the eternal juggling act that you do with OCA, that we do at The Atlantic, that everyone does.
Mr. Fallows, you have consistently followed the political tension in the US – starting with your job as speechwriter for Jimmy Carter. In terms of working for one of the most controversial US presidents, how did this job affect your political beliefs?
JF: I started working for the Washington Monthly right after graduate school and the person who founded that had been a one time politician in West Virginia. He said that if you are going to write about Public Affairs, it is very valuable to gain some experience in government and politics. So it is all not just at arms length. I always thought that in principle I would like to do it one time. One time is different from zero. So, when we were in Texas I was working for a magazine that was getting going and this chance came out of nowhere to get on to a presidential campaign when I was twenty six. Why not?
Although working for Jimmy Carter did pull you in closer to the political world, how did you manage to separate journalism from politics or your personal beliefs?
JF: If you’ve worked in the government, even in the White House, you never believe any conspiracy theory. Most things that happen are by accident, confusion or by stupidity. Most people just can’t carry out plots. When I was working for the Carter Administration, people would say “Carter is carrying out a secret plan,” and you knew it was simply that somebody forgot to return a phone call. Most things are somewhat chaotic. It’s like coming to China, you see most things here are kind of chaotic. Also, a major factor in how politics work is just people being too tired and not having enough sleep. That’s almost always the reason. So, I know these things in my bones now having done it for so long.
On the other hand, I didn’t want to go back and forth, sort of auditioning for political jobs, even though we have known Bill Clinton a long time, we didn’t want to deal with their administration. So, when I read about politics I say, you should know that I once worked for a Democratic president, but this is why I think the Iran deal is good, this is why I think the Iraq deal is bad, etcetera. As long as you make a point to disclose your background, that way nobody can say “Of course he’s said that. He once worked for a Democratic president.”
You recognize the influence of personal bias. However, how do you think this shapes what is published? Do you think that the news is influenced primarily by the interests of journalists or the interest of the public?
JF: I think that for individual reporters the pursuit of readership is a minor factor, people are generally in the business because they are interested in these topics. Here’s how you know if you want to be a journalist in the long run. The two main impulses of a journalist are 1) you want to find things out, and 2) you want people to listen to you once you found those things out. Of course, that is the eternal challenge of journalism: how to get a big enough audience without pandering. I think that in every culture, every individual has these acknowledged biases, so all you can do is expose yourself to as much outside criticism and pressure as you can. And, social media helps with that because people can jump in and say, “why aren’t you writing about this?”
I think that in this stage of media, any story you want to find you can find. So, for example, my friend Lawrence Wright who I worked with at the Texas Monthly, has worked on the story of Saudi Arabia’s involvement for years. I think if the editor of The New Yorker, The New York Times or The Washington Post was here right now they would point to six stories they have done about this. Each of us have a way in which we want the individual stories to be played higher. But, the professional organizations do their best to embrace all these different narratives.
Moving towards current U.S. politics, The Atlantic recently published an article about what the left is expecting from Hillary. What is your personal take on Hillary’s campaign?
JF: This situation is genuinely unprecedented. It is not just the first woman with a plausible chance of being elected, not simply the first spouse, but there has never been somebody who has been this much a prohibited favorite before. So there is no experience to judge this from. On the one hand it is hard to see how she could be elected. You know, Clinton, Bush, Clinton, Bush. But on the other hand, it is hard to see who could beat her. It’s a puzzling situation. I suppose if you had to bet money, you would bet on her being the next president. But it is still a year and a half before the election, things can change. I would be amazed if any scandal could hurt her. They have been in the public eye for thirty years. People who hate them are going to hate them, people who love them are going to love them.
I also think that it is a very different campaign from the one four years ago. The main reason is there is no Obama. If you think in recent politics there have been three exceptional talents. Bill Clinton is one, he is just a born political genius. Ronald Reagan was an exceptional talent and so was Obama. But there is no Obama running against her this time. As Obama had the first ever pedigree on racial issues, she does have it on women’s issues, so there is that. Four years ago I was for Obama and not Clinton and now I recognise that Clinton seems to me the most plausible democratic candidate. The other thing was the Iraq war vote. That was the only reason Obama had an opening against her four years ago. That’s gone away by now. Another thing that is strange is that it doesn’t really matter what campaign she runs, presidential campaigns are essentially white, southern men who are Republicans and everybody else, who essentially go for the democrats. So she would have to run a very bad campaign and something would have to go very wrong to give her a disadvantage against any of the Republicans. That is just the demographic contest. If you look at the divisions, women are Democratic, young people are Democratic, latinos are Democratic, highly educated people are Democratic, older, white men from the south is the only Republican stronghold.
Departing from politics and focusing on China: what inspired your move to East Asia, and specifically, to China? At what point, Deborah, did this move inspire you to write your second book?
JF: We saw China’s rise in the mid-80’s. The reason we came back again in 2006 was partly because I had been doing all this Iraq War coverage, and it was horrible. I wanted to get out of that. We wanted to be able to have a sense of China without just visiting a few times.
DF: We were ready to leave DC and get on the road again and thought that no other place in the world was more exciting than China. So we arrived, and I had no idea what I was going to do. But it’s always been part of my job description as part of the family to work on the language of the place we end up, so we could function in those places. When we got here, I started learning Chinese in one of these commercial schools as hard as I possibly could, because it was quickly apparent that it was very necessary here. Then, there was this stroke of fate. We were back in the United States about a year later, and it happened that the people renting our house in DC was a journalistic couple. The guy was head of the Times in London and his wife had just started a new publishing house in England with a friend of hers. We had naturally become friends with them, and when we went back I was talking to Rebecca (the wife) about this crazy life we were living in China, and from my linguistic background, about how equally crazy the language was. Chinese worked in a way that no other language should work. She and her friend said out of the blue that I should write a book for them. They were looking for books and so we talked about it. That was the beginning of it, and it was the idea that it would be a look at Chinese culture through the lens of the native language.
JF: They wanted to call it Shanghai in Pyjamas.
DF: But it became Dreaming in Chinese. So when we came back to China, I kept studying the language, but was also looking more closely at how culture matched up with language.
From the West’s perspective, individuals go into China looking at how China develops, as journalists or politicians, etc. However, from the East moving to the West, individuals are perceived as immigrants. How do you think that disparity plays out in understanding China?
JF: It’s an asymmetry in many ways. The West has been a developed society in the time that China and others have been aspiring, and I do think that people around the world under-appreciate how important it is to the United States, that it is this immigrant-absorbent society. There is a fundamental difference between a large, continually immigrant society and one like China, where we are all here as non-Chinese, but we are not going to become Chinese. That creates strengths and weaknesses from both sides. From the U.S. it’s a fundamental strength that so many other countries are just there part of the stew, and it probably makes it easier for an immigrant society to have connections to other countries. I think that on the one hand, a lot of people in China have an understanding of the U.S. that it is different from most Americans’ understanding of China. For example, Xi Jinping’s daughter went to Harvard. There’s a kind of stake that the standing members have family in the US. And that’s not true the other way around. On the other hand, a lot of Chinese people think that America equals New York, or America equals Los Angeles, and they don’t have a sense of how chaotic and different it really is.
Your new American Futures project, aims to show people another side of the U.S., rather than just the big cities. Could you tell us more about this project and where the inspiration came from?
DF: It was like a scientific experiment that kind of came to a moment where it became obvious what we should do. We had been back in DC for a number of years and we were ready to do something a bit different.
JF: I was also so sick of writing about politics and more about Iraq and all this nightmare stuff.
DF: We were ready for something else. We spoke to our older son about what we should do and he said that it was very obvious. He told us to think about the things we love, and we loved going around China and learning about all these little towns, and we loved flying around in a small plane. We also had a different sense of what America was in comparison to the story that was being told in national press. So, he told us to go around to small towns in America and see what we learned from that.
JF: It’s been really interesting. As Deb was saying, we thought that the part of America that wasn’t LA or San Francisco or Boston was being neglected, and we wanted to see if things looked better or worse, when we looked at third and fourth tier cities, as they call them in China. We also did this at a time where it looked like the U.S. was still going down. We wanted to see what the recovery would be like. On my website, we asked people why we should come to their town, and like a thousand people wrote in. It’s been fascinating and really a different understanding of the country. The national level of politics in the U.S. really is profoundly broken. But at the regional and city level, it is very functional. You have compromise and partisan issues don’t matter. You have innovation in schooling and manufacturing recovery, and a sense of local pride – all the things you would like to think are part of the fabric of the country don’t exist at the national level, but instead are quite strong at the regional level. There is also a talent dispersal point. You think of all the talented people and you think they only go to six big cities, but, in fact, somebody might decide to go to Greenville, South Carolina and build their new company there. That’s really interesting.
DF: One other reason this worked for us is because we really felt comfortable going to small towns. We both grew up in small towns. It’s not like we were city kids going to see some country folk. When we would go to a place, it just seemed very familiar, because it was the same social structure and cultural structure that we had grown up with and recognize.
JF: The Atlantic some years ago hired this French writer to go travel to small towns, and he was more focused on these curious Americans in small towns. For us, it’s where we’re from and where we feel comfortable.
On a final note, students at NYU Shanghai are here as a part of a US-China experiment. How do institutions such as our own play a role in US-China relations?
DF: I think that it’s impossible to tell. This in China and only certain things are under your control. I hope that this is an irreversible change, because it seems like a tremendous experiment. Maybe even more so than Abu Dhabi, because it is China and there’s such global opportunity and need for this to happen. I can’t imagine that many other universities could use this as a model. I’m sure that they could pick out the pieces that have worked best, but the idea of turning out 300 to 500 students a year, with these kind of relationships and exposure you have, eventually, could change the world order of global education, because it’s not just those 500 people. It’s everybody else in their world and in the world of education.
For the first time, NYU Abu Dhabi students have won the NYU Global Debate competition, an annual contest open to NYU students worldwide, from New York to Shanghai to Paris to Madrid.
Seniors David Alexander Nyikos and Corey Meyer emerged victorious through three elimination rounds and a final debate, breaking a winning legacy that has belonged to students based in New York since the tournament started in 2012.
This year’s competition was held May 2-4 in New York City and awarded prizes of more than $50,000. Participants debated whether the world is a safer place now than it was 10 years ago. Meyer and Nyikos argued, it is.
There were three elimination rounds culminating to the finals, which were judged by a VIP panel of NYU faculty members. In the finals, Meyer and Nyikos went up against a team from NYU New York.
Meyer said, “Our opponents focused on the economy and quantitative easing. Luckily, I took a class last semester with a visiting professor from UCLA, Dr. Ronald Rogowski, and so we spoke a lot about the financial crisis, which propelled our case and gave us the knowledge we needed to shut down their argument”.
Both Meyer and Nyikos said the mentorship of their coach, John Coughlin, professor of religious studies and law, was the driving force behind their success.
“In New York, John was there the whole time. His coaching was phenomenal because he was not going to read our case or do the work for us but was always there to encourage us, and give us pointers. So that was very helpful.”
Nyikos, who has been participating in the tournament for the past three years, enjoys the cross-examination format of a debate because it’s unpredictable; anything can happen.
“I think doing debate in general helps you in a lot of ways,” he said. “It gives you the ability to respond in a really concise way and to think on the spot. This kind of debate also emphasizes speaking well and performing well, which is useful no matter what.”
In the fall, students abroad who were interested in participating uploaded a four-minute video stating their arguments for or against the proposed resolution, while students in New York participated in preliminary rounds on campus. A committee of faculty, graduate students and other NYU community members judged the teams and selected 16 finalists, known as the ‘Sweet 16’.
Four teams of two students each qualified from NYUAD.
“Our place in the UAE gave us a competitive advantage because a lot of our opponents would solely focus on conflicts in the Middle East. It was nice to be able to defend the position of the world being a much safer place now based on personal experience”, said Meyer.
In particular, studying in the Middle East, he said, means drawing fewer generalizations about topics like the war in Syria and ISIS.
“We were able to personalize our arguments and look at the bigger picture on issues ranging from food security to medicine to global crime rates.”
When students choose to do coursework away from home, in a distant and different socio-cultural context, their engagement with the local community is both about learning and about giving valuable service. NYU Buenos Aires has traditionally offered both credit-bearing internships and volunteer service projects that put students in touch with the local community in rewarding ways for both sides of the relationship.
Spring 2015 has marked a historical high point of this kind of endeavor: 60% of NYUBA students are making a weekly contribution to multiple community service projects endorsed by NYU’s global program in Argentina.
Volunteering in Buenos Aires allows students to work in and for communities in need, meet local peers and professionals, practice Spanish and acquire global skills by adapting to the porteño working environment – all while supporting important causes like schools in poor neighborhoods, public policy on human & civil rights, and international cooperation for local NGOs.
Credit-bearing internship and fieldwork projects are available through courses sponsored by CAS and LS at the undergraduate level. Placement options range in topic from Human Rights, Public Health, and Education or the Environment to the realm of Arts or Sports.
Whether working for credit or as volunteers, students usually go into the field twice or three times a week through the whole semester. So, NYUBA students’ hands-on commitment makes a significant, tangible difference to these community projects. This map shows how many communities are touched by NYUBA students’ contribution of time and effort:
Most credit-bearing internships are for undergraduates, but everyone – grad and undergrad – is encouraged to participate. For example, this semester, NYUBA Law Program student, Tatyana Leykekham, chose to work at a non-profit foundation where she tutored children in situations of social vulnerability. She summed it up this way: “During my Spring semester in Buenos Aires I volunteered at Fundacion Juanito–an organization that looks after marginalized children. My experience there has been nothing but positive. Even though my Spanish is very basic I was met with respect and patience. Immediately, I felt like I was part of a large family. I spent my days teaching English and helping out in the kitchen, both very rewarding tasks. I particularly enjoyed meeting all the children who live in the foundation and trying to get to know them. In general, I think that volunteering here is a wonderful and unique way to become immersed in the life of Buenos Aires.”
NYUBA undergrad Nicolás Cantor volunteered at Boca Social, the community service arm of the world-class pro soccer team known as “Club Atletico Boca Juniors,” and he had this to say: “My experience at Boca Social has been unforgettable. As an Argentine-American, my father has been able to pass on his passion for Boca Juniors to me. But opposed to him, I never truly got that first hand experience with the club that a Buenos Aires born person has had. With my volunteering experience at Boca Social, my dream of being at the essence of the club is the most beautiful thing. I lived a remarkable first hand experience with Boca Social that is going to stick with me for the rest of my life.”
Another NYUBA undergrad, Lisa Azcona, also took part in the program volunteering at a local news venue: “Working with The Argentina Independent was such a rewarding experience. It definitely fulfilled my expectations. It was extremely hands-on and you really feel like you are part of the team. I particularly enjoyed working on the ‘Street Style series.’ Biweekly, I interviewed locals (in Spanish) in different neighborhoods around the city about what they were wearing and their opinion on fashion in Buenos Aires. The Argentina Independent actually re-launched this series (they had it previously) because they saw that I had an interest in fashion. As an aspiring entertainment reporter, I found this area to be very beneficial, worthwhile and fun! It allowed me to really be in close contact with locals while improving my Spanish skills. I also worked on current event pieces during our weekly meetings and reviewed an organization/an event. I’ll be leaving The Argentina Independent with a nice amount of clips, which will become useful when applying to other internships in NYC. I think this internship/volunteer experience is an awesome way to showcase your ability to do journalism abroad.”
Finally, with a focus on environmental issues, Jean-Luc Marsh is an undergraduate who committed his volunteer time to Asociación Amigos de la Patagonia. Jean-Luc counts this among “the highlights of my experience while studying abroad in Buenos Aires. The work is rewarding because the impact is measurable; I get to see first hand that the documents I translate, the activity kits I help construct, the newsletters I draft, and the odd errands I run, all go to the stated goal of improving environmental education in Argentina in order to protect the environment both now and in future generations. … As cliché as it may sound, my introduction to NGO work in Argentina has been instrumental in helping me to get my bearings while down here, and also provided me with a network of professional connections and friends in South America and beyond.”
Who Makes This Possible at NYU Buenos Aires:
NYUBA’s internships and volunteer programs draw on a network of 45+ local organizations that year after year receive student placements for productive engagement in local projects.
Diego Cordoba is part of NYUBA’s Student Life team, and he is specifically in charge of the Volunteer & Community Service Program, reaching out to students when they arrive and connecting their interests and vocations to organizations locally that need help.
On the academic side, NYUBA’s Internship Coordinator, Justina Lopez, works closely with Diego to place students in organizations that can place them for more hours per week, as appropriate to course-related goals. In addition to working with semester students, Justina is a key intermediary between local organizations and community groups of interest to NYU’s numerous specialized Visiting Programs that bring scholars and advanced students to Argentina between the regular semesters.
Post-World War II tensions instigated the Cold War rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union that lasted for much of the second half of the 20th century. These tensions resulted in mutual suspicions, heightened tensions and a series of international incidents that brought the world’s superpowers, and the world, to the brink of disaster.
In August of 1961, the Communist government of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) started constructing a barbed wire and concrete “Antifascistischer Schutzwall,” between East and West Berlin. The purpose of the Wall was to keep Western “fascists” from entering East Germany and undermining the socialist state, but it primarily served the objective of stemming mass defections from East to West. The Berlin Wall stood until November 9, 1989, when the head of the East German Communist Party announced that citizens of the East Berlin could cross the border freely. Still today, the Berlin Wall remains one of the most powerful and enduring symbols of the Cold War.
On May 6, 2015, NYU Washington, DC will host a panel of experts, several of whom grew up in eastern Europe during this time, as they discuss the impact and social issues relating to the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Following the panel, there will be a reading of Before / After, a new play by John Feffer.
Before/After is a multimedia portrait of the transformation of East-Central Europe told by the people who made it happen. Through words, pictures, video, and music, it tells the story of the people who chipped away at the Iron Curtain, tore down the Berlin Wall in 1989, and tried to realize their hopes and dreams in the decades that followed. Drawn from interviews with people from the region, the reading will be performed by 12 actors. It is directed by Natalia Gleason.
More information is available here: