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Abu Dhabi Students Launch Math Education Program in Uganda


Three students from NYU Abu Dhabi — one senior and two alumnae — have launched an education program in Africa designed to get resource-strapped teachers and students excited about mathematics.

REACH Uganda equips dozens of schools in central Uganda with essential math textbooks and provides teachers with inexpensive and creative teaching methodologies that will peak students’ interest and curiosity in math subjects.

Co-founder Clara Bicalho Maia Correia, NYUAD Class of 2016, said, “We were inspired to tackle the challenge of overcrowded classrooms and insufficient learning materials that many schools in Uganda reported facing. We came up with the idea while attending NYUAD together in early 2016 and traveled to Wakiso District to share our vision with local education officers and teachers,” including David Kafambe, their Uganda-based partner on the project.

REACH was awarded USD 15,000 by the D-Prize / NYU Reynolds Social Venture Competition, and NYU Green Grants to launch as a pilot program from August to December 2016. The annual D-Prize for New York University students around the world offers grants for student-led programs that provide proven poverty solutions in developing countries.


“We wanted to build a sustainable program that would have a tangible impact on education and promote curiosity,” added Eduardo Campillo, co-founder and current NYUAD senior. And it’s working. REACH has already delivered hundreds of textbooks to Grade 6 students in more than 30 primary schools in the Wakiso District. The goal is to distribute up to 1,500 textbooks in the region before the end of the year.

At the program launch celebration, Wakiso District Education Officer Lwanga Sempiija said, “This is a historic moment. Never before has a program brought together education officers, local leaders, teachers, parents, and students to tackle the issue of learning mathematics in schools in Uganda.”

“We hope this education program will improve student attendance, participation, performance, and attitudes toward the subject of math, and lessen the burden of overworked teachers,” said Angelina Micha Djaja, co-founder, NYUAD Class of 2016. A crucial part of the program involves engaging with teachers. The students from Abu Dhabi also led a two-day creative workshop with 16 local math teachers to help them develop new skills and knowledge that will improve student learning.

REACH Uganda is currently seeking additional funding to extend its pilot program into 2017.

By Andy Gregory, NYUAD Public Affairs

This post originally appeared on NYU Abu Dhabi’s Salaam blog and is available here.

NYU Madrid Site Director on Curating Joan Miró: Materiality and Metamorphosis

NYU Madrid Site Director, Rob Lubar, associate professor of fine arts at the Institute for Fine Arts and Director of the Joan Miró Chair at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, has curated an exhibit on Miró in Oporto, Portugal. The exhibit, Joan Miró: Materiality and Metamorphosis, is on display at the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art. We asked Professor Lubar for his thoughts on mounting the exhibition, and more broadly on Miró’s work.


When I was asked to curate the Portuguese State’s collection of 85 splendid works by the Catalan artist Joan Miró, I was delighted.  I’ve dedicated a good part of my professional career to studying the art of Joan Miró.  In 1988 I delivered my doctoral thesis at NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts on Miró’s early work.  Since then, I’ve written extensively about Miró and am currently serving on the Board of Directors of the Fundació Joan Miró in Barcelona.  I am also the Director of the Càtedra Miró at the Open University of Catalonia and the Research Director of the International Miró Research Group.  The opportunity to curate the Oporto exhibition at the Serralves Museum, and to write a catalogue, has been one of the great pleasures of my academic career.

The collection, which contains a number of major works of historical importance and is uniformly of high quality, was acquired by the Portuguese State in an unusual way.  The 85 works were purchased by a Portuguese bank as an investment opportunity.  When the bank failed, it was rescued by the Portuguese State, to which the collection passed.  Two and a half years ago, under a different government, the Portuguese State attempted to auction the collection at Christie’s London.  There was a huge public outcry in Portugal and the collection was withdrawn from sale.  At that time, I had been invited to deliver a plenary lecture before the sale.  I was deeply disturbed that a collection of such great cultural value was being sold, as the decision struck me as politically driven.  Fortunately, with the controversy that followed, the collection remained in Portugal but a final disposition for it was not made until recently.  The current government decided to show the collection publicly in Portugal for the first time, and I was brought on board as curator.  Not only is the exhibition at the Serralves Museum a huge success, but it was announced at the inauguration, in the presence of the Prime Minister of Portugal, the President of Portugal, the President of Spain, the President of Catalonia, the Mayor of Oporto and various Ministers of Culture that the collection would remain in Portugal and would find a permanent home in the Serralves Museum.


To have had the privilege to work with this great collection and to have had a hand in establishing a new museum in the magnificent city of Oporto has been enormously satisfying.  With the Fundació Joan Miró in Barcelona and the Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró in Palma de Mallorca, the Serralves Miró collection forms a cultural triangle in the territories of the Iberian Peninsula.  There will be numerous opportunities in the future for collaboration among these and other institutions, and I look forward to a close working relationship with the curators and administrators of the Serralves Museum.


About the Exhibition

Joan Miró: Materiality and Metamorphosis, which is on display through January 28, 2017, is comprised of 85 works by Miró owned by the Portuguese state, many of which have never been seen before by the general public, including six of his paintings on masonite produced in 1936 and six “sobreteixims” (tapestries) of 1973.


Robert Lubar discussing Miro with the President of Portugal, the Prime Minister of Portugal, and the Prime Minister of Spain at the exhibit opening in September.

The exhibition covers six-decades period – from 1924 to 1981, though it focused on the transformation of pictorial languages that the Catalan artist first developed in the mid-1920s. The exhibition considers his artistic metamorphoses across the mediums of drawing, painting, collage and work in tapestry.

Miró’s visual thinking and the ways in which he negotiates between optical and tactile modes of sensation is examined in detail, as are the artist’s working processes.



NYU DC Students Experience Travelers from the Lands of the Epic of Gilgamesh at the Italian Embassy in Washington, DC

First-year students in NYU Washington DC’s Cultural Foundations class had the opportunity to join Professor Alexander Nagel for a special opening of an exhibition of photographs documenting heritage preservation in Iraq at the Italian Embassy last month.

Dr. Carlo Lippolis, of the University of Turin in Italy and President of Centro Ricerche Archeologiche e Scavi di Torino (CRAST), visiting NYUDC class the day after the exhibition.

Dr. Carlo Lippolis, of the University of Turin in Italy and President of Centro Ricerche Archeologiche e Scavi di Torino (CRAST), visiting the NYUDC Cultural Foundations class.

To commemorate the opening, Dr. Carlo Lippolis, of the University of Turin in Italy and President of Centro Ricerche Archeologiche e Scavi di Torino (CRAST), presented Heritage in Danger: The Centro Scavi Torino and the Preservation of Iraqi Cultural Heritage, which highlights the work of the Center over the last ten years. Following the presentation, Dr. Lippolis visited the Cultural Foundations class for an additional discussion and question and answer session.

The following are reflections on the event and on Dr. Lippoli’s visit from NYUDC students.

Dr. Lippolis first introduced the Iraqi Italian collaboration efforts in rebuilding the displays of the National Museum of Iraq in Baghdad. Preserving collections from ancient Sumerian, Babylonian, Akkadian and Assyrian and Islamic civilizations, the museum holds objects from Uruk, a city the class just learnt about, while discussing cuneiform tablets and reading the fascinating stories from *The Epic of Gilgamesh* which was written over 3,000 years ago. Unfortunately, in April 2003, many precious artifacts were looted from the museum, and is a window to the past of Mesopotamia and human history. Despite the difficult political situation in Iraq, efforts to reopen the National Museum began in 2006. The Iraqi Italian teams cleaned and repaired artifacts, redesigned the galleries, created a timeline, and reinstalled the museum lighting. The museum was officially reopened to the public in February 2015. When Dr. Lippolis saw children lined up and eager to visit the museum, how they absorbed knowledge from the displays, and smiling at each other, he felt all of his team’s effort worth it.

Dr. Lippolis also introduced the audience to the reopening of the Iraqi-Italian Institutes in Baghdad earlier this year, in April 2016. Originally founded in 1969, the work of the Institute was halted during the Second Gulf War. He explained the mission of the Iraqi-Italian Institutes as to provide full cooperation on all issues raised by the Iraqi side, but especially to contribute to the safeguarding of the cultural heritage. After a retrieval of a historical building close to the Qislah, the old Turkish military quarters, the Institutes reopened with the purpose of contributing to the progressively wide-ranging safeguarding of the Iraqi cultural heritage and new archaeological and scientific research. He also spoke about his own excavations in Iraq. While there were Italian excavations at a site of named Seleucia earlier, since 2012 an Italian archaeological expedition began working in south-eastern Iraq on the site of Tulul al Baqarat. Altogether, it was great to gain so much insight into the work of European archaeologists in Iraq.

Jin Xiangru, Freshmen, NYU DC, Course “Cultural Foundations 1”

On the next afternoon, Dr. Lippolis joined us in the classroom at NYU DC. Here, we had the opportunity to learn more about the Italian and Iraqi collaborations, and we were able to ask questions about the practices of his work in Iraq. In his lecture on Wednesday evening, Dr. Lippolis had already introduced the efforts and work that went into the reopening of the Iraq Museum, and how the 2003 looting and the Iraq War halted archaeological research in Iraq. Dr. Lippolis continued to discuss how the damage and looting of sites has a lasting impact on the history of people. Some looted artifacts were returned to the museum in Baghdad by locals soon after the events happened in Baghdad. However, the museum curators were not able to verify all thefts, because archival documentation was destroyed along with some of the artifacts being looted. The 2003 looting had not only an impact on the artifacts that were damaged, but also on decades of research conducted. Dr. Lippolis introduced us to the history of the Iraq Museum and shared fascinating letters written by Gertrude Bell, the Iraq Museum founder. During her time, few women had access to education: against all odds, she got her education, and for the rest of her life she did not stop pursuing archaeology. After her death, the Iraq Museum changed locations, but they held on to her spirit for archaeology, and a sign with her name can be found by the Museum until this day. I was personally captivated by the diplomatic efforts and politics behind the reopening of the Iraq Museum in 2015. We learned about the work that went into planning of the layout, and the challenges in conserving and moving the sometimes very fragile artifacts.

My classmates and I were interested to learn more about the politics of archaeology. We wanted to know how embassies, diplomats, countries, and archaeologists co-operate with each other, about the work in recovering lost and looted pieces. Organizations such as Interpol monitor activities involved in the sale of looted objects yet the rise of the internet (and especially the dark net, as one student pointed out), presents new challenges and opportunities. This looting is a shame because history is being destroyed by greed. This practice should be outlawed. I can see where this behavior comes from, for since mankind started conquering other cultures, their first instinct was always to rob and destroy a culture. Culture unlike people changes and needs to be recorded before it is gone. The Iraqi locals that returned the stolen artifact set a great example of humanity and I became curious to learn more about Iraq.

My mother is from Vietnam and I was born in the Czech Republic. I spent most of my life outside of Vietnam, and I only had a few chances to interact with Vietnamese culture. Growing up I did not have too much of an interest in the country my parents grew up in, but it is something I regret now. I believe that preserving culture and history is important, so future generations will not have similar regrets as I did. The meeting with Dr. Lippolis provided me with important insights into understanding my own culture, because sympathy is the bridge to peace.

Thao Huong Tran, New York University, Washington, DC, Course “Cultural Foundations 1”