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Fifth Edition of TEDx NYU Abu Dhabi Sheds Light on Ideas Hidden In Plain Sight

As part of the TEDx series, a program that brings the spirit of TED’s mission of ideas worth spreading to local communities around the globe, NYU Abu Dhabi’s (NYUAD) student organized TEDxNYUAD returned for its fifth edition on Saturday, April 13 under the theme In Plain Sight

Taking place in The Red Theater at the Arts Center at NYUAD this year’s event featured a diverse line-up of ten speakers who lead a series of talks about concepts hidden in plain sight.

Centered on the idea of advancing social thought and bringing about positive social impact, the fifth edition of TEDxNYUAD offered a range of topics pertaining to social science, psychology, art, engineering, and culture, among others.

The event featured a diverse line-up of ten speakers including NYU Abu Dhabi students, staff, and faculty. Some of the featured talks include:

Rock and Roll is Dead: Who Committed the Crime and Will There Be Justice?

NYUAD Graduate Academic and Engagement Manager Karl Kalinkewicz will explore how music consumption has changed throughout the last few decades, and how it affects society through the lens of his own personal journey as a 34-year-old living right in the middle of its evolution.

The Sports Majilis: Why it’s Essential to our Collective Future

Exploring the diversity in today’s locker rooms, NYUAD Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Athletics Peter Dicce will shed light on sport activism, and the sport locker room’s potential to be a powerful platform for social change.

Where Are the Female Arab Athletes?

Continuing the conversation on sport is NYUAD Class of 2021 Maitha AlSuwaidi, a student of Political Science who will address issues that impact women from the Gulf seeking to pursue sport at a professional level.

How Buildings Perform – The Invisible Actor

NYUAD Class of 2019 student Jagan Subramanian will draw on the related fields of neuroscience, phenomenology, and semiotics to see how buildings have historically contributed to the formation of social codes and how, if used correctly, it could serve as a way to undo social hierarchies and create more inclusive communities in the 21st century.

The Slippery Slope of Everyday Horror

NYUAD Director of Spiritual Life and InterCultural Education Alta Mauro will question what would happen if more individuals were willing to see, hear, and acknowledge the inhumane ways that some of us are disregarded, misrepresented, or manipulated, and whether it will ease the thought of neglect, abuse, and death.

What Climate Activists are Doing Wrong

With a strong passion for the environment, NYUAD Class of 2019 student Rastraraj Bhandari will highlight the unseen impact of accelerated glacial melting in the Himalayas and the importance of taking immediate action.

Conscious Guide to Gentrification

NYUAD Class of 2019 student Abraham Hdru will focus on the need to equip people with a better understanding of the nuances of gentrification, how it is caused by individuals embedded in a larger socio-economic condition, and ways to mitigate these effects in the future.

We Need to Start Telling Americans They are Ignorant

NYUAD Class of 2019 student Emma Tocci will reflect on her own experience navigating her feelings of ignorance when she began her undergraduate studies in Abu Dhabi and why it should matter to non-Americans.

When Being Strong is the Easy Way Out

NYUAD Community Outreach Coordinator Tala Hammash will discuss the misconception around strength and how and why it is courage, and not strength, that is the main ingredient of growth.

I Am A Child Hijabi – My Decision or My Parents?

High school student Imen Masmoudi will draw on her personal experiences to highlight the importance and effect of deciding to be veiled at a young age.

NYU Accra Diversity Day

NYU Accra recently hosted a Cultural Diversity Day celebrating all the unique cultures and identities represented by our diverse student body. NYU Accra also invited students from the Ghana Institute of Journalism, the National Film, and the Television Institute in Ghana to share their identities and Ghanaian culture with our students. Throughout the night, students showed off their culture through various performances and presentations. There was Irish dancing, Ghanaian dancing, poetry, music, presentations and documentaries that gave insight on a variety of cultures. Students were enlightened on cultures from Taiwan to Sudan. At the end of the night, all the NYU students and other participants of culture day, mingled over delicious food and danced the night away.

Czech Republic’s Second Female Conductor, Miriam Nemcova, Teaching at NYU Prague

The Czech Republic has one of Europe’s strongest music education programs, and children as young as 15 can start learning to conduct at the conservatory (students in the USA don’t start learning to be conductors until much later, usually after they have completed a BA degree). This semester NYU Prague’s music students can take a new course on conducting taught by Miriam Nemcova, who is the second Czech woman to become a professional conductor.  

The first professional Czech female conductor was Vitezslava Kapralova who was also the first woman to earn a conducting degree from the Janacek Academy in 1935.  She had a very successful early career, conducting the Czech Philharmonic in 1937 and the BBC Symphony Orchestra in 1938.  Tragically she died of tuberculosis at the age of 35.

It took sixty years for another female conductor to appear on the Czech music scene.  It hasn’t been easy. The first time Nemcova applied to the conducting program at the Prague Music Academy in 1983 she wasn’t accepted.  Not only was she female, but she was also religious, and the Communist regime was in control of the educational system. She was criticized for wearing a cross when she conducted an orchestra for a concert that took place just before her audition for school.  Nemcova persevered, and she was accepted the following year. Throughout her studies and early in her career colleagues and teachers told her that they didn’t think women have the authority necessary to conduct an orchestra. Nemcova, whose mother was a well-known opera singer, ignored the criticism, believing that when you conduct, you shouldn’t display either female or male attributes.   

A few years after graduation Nemcova was offered the prestigious position of conductor and choir master of the State Opera in Prague where she worked for several years.  She later spent six years in Italy, conducting choirs and orchestras around the country, and she has recorded CDs with the Hradec Kralove Philharmonic Orchestra and conducted film music for many Czech and international productions.

Nemcova is optimistic that the prejudices against women are slowly disappearing in her field, in part because of her own role at the music academy where she has taught for over twenty years, mentoring her female students.   “I have trained at least ten females to be conductors. Still, after graduation not very many of them work professionally. Being a female conductor is complicated. It’s difficult in terms of time but also difficult physically, especially when you have a family and children.  A lot depends on having support from your family and also your financial situation.”

Recently Nemcova conducted a concert of Dvorak and Smetana with the Cairo Symphony Orchestra in Egypt at an event organized by the Czech Embassy.  She was a bit nervous approaching them as a woman. “But the musicians respected my position – hierarchy was more important than gender to them. A maestro is a maestro – doesn’t matter if that maestro is a woman or man.”

NYU Washington, D.C. Salon Series: A Conversation with Author Ann Mei Chang

On Wednesday April 17, NYU Washington, DC and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) will co-sponsor an evening Salon Series conversation featuring Ann Mei Chang, Author of, LEAN IMPACT: How to Innovate for Radically Greater Social Good. Ann Mei also serves as Executive Director of LEAN IMPACT.

Ann Mei Chang is a leading advocate for social innovation. As Chief Innovation Officer at USAID, Ann Mei served as the first Executive Director of the US Global Development Lab, engaging the best practices for innovation from Silicon Valley to accelerate the impact and scale of solutions to the world’s most intractable challenges. She was previously the Chief Innovation Officer at Mercy Corps and served the US Department of State as Senior Advisor for Women and Technology in the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues.

Around the world, a new generation is looking beyond greater profits, for meaningful purpose. But, unlike business, few social interventions have achieved significant impact at scale. Inspired by the modern innovation practices popularized by bestseller The Lean Startup that have fueled technology breakthroughs touching every aspect of life, LEAN IMPACT turns one’s attention to a new goal–achieving radically greater social good. Social change is far more complicated than building a new app. It requires more listening, more care, and more stakeholders. To make a lasting difference, solutions must be embraced by beneficiaries, address root causes, and include an engine that can accelerate growth to reach the scale of the needs. LEAN IMPACT offers bold ideas to reach audacious goals through customer insight, rapid experimentation and iteration, and a relentless pursuit of impact.

Prior to her pivot to the public and social sector, Ann Mei was a seasoned technology executive, with more than 20 years’ experience at such leading companies as Google, Apple, and Intuit, as well as at a range of startups. As Senior Engineering Director at Google, she led worldwide engineering for mobile applications and services, delivering 20x growth to $1 billion in annual revenues in just three years.

Ann Mei currently serves on the boards of BRAC USA and IREX, is a nonresident fellow at the Brookings Institution, and is a visiting fellow at the Center for Global Development. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from Stanford University, is a member of the Aspen Institute’s Henry Crown Fellows’ class of 2011, and was recognized as one of the “Women In the World: 125 Women of Impact” by Newsweek/The Daily Beast in 2013.

NYU Paris Professor Valérie Berty Presents Her Book on Sembène Ousmane

On April 1, NYU Paris hosted an event featuring one of its professors, Valérie Berty. Professor Berty presented her book Sembène Ousmane (1923-2007): Un homme debout. Sembène Ousmane was a Senegalese film director, producer and writer. He was considered one of the greatest authors of Africa and he has often been called the “father of African film”. The program also included a screening of Sembène Ousmane’s first movie Borom Sarret (18mn) introduced by journalist and African cinema specialist Catherine Ruelle and by Alain Sembène. After the screening there was a panel discussion with Valérie Berty moderated by Elisabeth Molkou (New York University Paris) with  Marc Cerisuelo (Université Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée) and Boniface Mongo-Mboussa (writer and literary critic). It was a lively and informative evening.

NYU Florence Hosts “A Very Strange Dream”: The Memory of the Holocaust and European Jews of North African Origin

On April 10, NYU Florence will host a dialogue with Dario Miccoli, Lecturer of Modern Hebrew and Jewish Studies, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice. When thinking about the Holocaust, almost everyone refers to the Jews of Europe and, particularly, countries like Poland, writers like Primo Levi, and places like Auschwitz. Few people remember that the Jews of North Africa also experienced the Second World War and, in some cases, the Holocaust: think of the Jews of Algiers subject to Vichy’s anti-Semitic legislation, or the Libyan Jews deported to Bergen-Belsen in 1944. Even though the situations of the Jews of Europe and North Africa during the war can hardly be compared, over the last few years a number of Jews of North African origin now living in Israel or Europe have started to discuss the idea of a ‘North African Holocaust’ through literature, movies and in spaces such as museums and heritage centers. Focusing on the work of Italian, Israeli and French writers and artists of North African Jewish origin, Miccoli will investigate the emergence of the idea of a ‘North African Holocaust’, asking to what extent this constitutes the rediscovery of hitherto little-known memories, or something that largely bespeaks contemporary societal and political agendas in the context of today’s Europe and Israel. Special emphasis will be placed on the case of Libya under Italian rule, the vicissitudes of the Libyan Jews during the Second World War, and the impact of the Holocaust on the memorialisation processes put forward by Jews of Libyan origin – from the writer Victor Magiar to the heritage activist David Gerbi – living in contemporary Italy.

NYU Shanghai Students Win National Championships in Unilever Competition, Head to London for Finals

Three NYU Shanghai students have won the National Championship for China in the Unilever Future Leaders’ League (FLL), a business case competition that challenges university students to work with business leaders to come up with innovative marketing and branding solutions for Unilever brands.

The team of Echo Ma ’19, Lyndsy Qu ’19, and Leanne Li ’21 bested six other groups chosen from more than 2,100 participants across 300 universities. On April 8, Ma, Qu, and Li will represent China in the Global FFL Final in London, competing against 29 other teams from around the world.

Global championship team members will be invited to join the Unilever Leadership Internship Program. Previous years’ winners have also been fast-tracked into the company as management trainees.

Ma said the team spent four months working on intensive case studies and presentations to prepare the competition, on top of coursework and internship schedules. “All those sleepless nights discussing presentations seem really worth it now,” says Ma. “We have learned so much through the process!”

Marketing majors Qu and Li met finance major Ma through the 4-credit course, “Branding and Innovation,” co-taught by Assistant Arts Professor Christian Grewell, and Assistant Dean of Business and Clinical Assistant Professor of Business Raymond Ro. 

“This particular group was well-prepared, had an engaging presence, and most importantly, they clearly articulated their idea,” says Christian Grewell. “They also stood out because each member complimented the others–in terms of how they communicated individual ideas to weave together a story, and used their public speaking skills.”

Qu, who is involved in Student Life and the Commencement Committee, naturally took on a leadership role in the team. Li, who has studied art, piano, and dance, was the team’s ‘creative.’ Ma leveraged her finance knowledge for cost and budgeting calculations. In the lead-up to crucial presentations, the team would meet every evening after class.

A screenshot of the team’s presentation on successful online campaigns by Kiehl’s and Pechoin.

For one of the challenges, the team designed a marketing campaign to make a dated skincare brand accessible to Generation Z consumers. First, the team analyzed consumer behaviors and isolated their pain points. Then, they researched successful online campaigns involving Key Opinion Leaders and short video sharing platforms like TikTok. The resulting 20-page presentation included a strategy for improving the brand’s market penetration while increasing the loyalty of existing customers.

“After each round, we received comprehensive feedback from the brand manager and marketing manager on our presentation. That feedback helped us learn what it is like to do brand marketing campaigns in the real world,” says Qu. “We learned how to use data to identify pain points for customers, and to use that information in a brand narrative.”

Scott Gu, who manages employer branding at Unilever, says he observed five key strengths in the NYU Shanghai students. “They are fluent in English, confident, hardworking and therefore reliable, academically driven, and they are all fast learners.”

Three teams from NYU Shanghai, iSkin, Timeless and Super Rise, have also made it to the China National Final for the L’Oreal Brandstorm competition this year. The competition will take place on April 2, and the teams will compete with nine other teams across China for two spots in the global final in Paris.

NYU Washington, DC Mounts Exhibit in Lobby to Commemorate Gilbert Baker

The Stonewall 50 commemoration at NYU Washington, DC, as part of New York University’s larger Stonewall 50 celebration, is displaying a protest banner created by flag designer Gilbert Baker. The banner has been used in rallies in New York City where it was carried by activists advocating for LGBTQ rights. 

In 1978, Gilbert was tasked with creating a flag at the request of Harvey Milk for a gay pride event. His creation of the rainbow flag would become a worldwide symbol, forever cementing his place and importance in helping to define the modern LGBTQ movement.
STOP THE HATE is a protest banner measuring fifty feet wide (the approximate measure of the width of Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue), and has been used in Pride Marches and protest demonstrations in New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. Over the years, Gilbert created several such banners on the same scale, including ones emblazoned with DIGNITY (for the LGBTQ Catholic organization), GAYS AGAINST GUNS (for the New York City group of the same name that was formed in the wake of the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, Florida in 2016), RISE AND RESIST, and DON’T BUY PUTIN’S LIES (which Gilbert and members of the activist group Queer Nation arranged to be secretly shipped to Moscow and displayed in the wake of Russian ‘ anti-gay propaganda’ laws at events leading up to the 2014 Sochi Olympics).STOP THE HATE and many of these other banners were proudly carried in a march from New York’s Stonewall Inn to the Christopher Street Piers after  Gilbert’s wake after his untimely death on March 31, 2017.

NYU Sydney Hosts China Matters Debate

In the decade since the Global Financial Crisis, Australia’s engagement with the People’s Republic of China has continued to expand and while the commercial relationship is complimentary and robust, public discourse regarding political interference and security concerns continue to run counter to this unfettered optimism.

The Australian public has more recently been exposed to headlines regarding visa cancellations for academics attempting to complete field research in Xinjiang; concerns of scientific collaboration being too obscure and leading to gains for Beijing’s opaque security apparatus; and the detainment of Chongyu Feng, Associate Professor of Chinese Studies at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS).

It is against this backdrop that China Matters hosted its 6thYoung Professional debate. The topic, ‘Does the People’s Republic of China pose a threat to academic freedom in Australia?’

China Matters is a local think tank, established to stimulate a realistic and nuanced discussion of the PRC among Australian business, government and the security establishment, and to advance sound policy. Part of the organization’s efforts rest in bringing young professionals into the discussion. Each year, China Matters hosts youth policy forums, debates, and publishes articles from young China watchers.

On December 5, 2018, NYU Sydney collaborated with China Matters by hosting the 6th debate in the series. These debates bring together two young professionals and two special guests to debate topics that are key to the Australia-China relationship. The format is geared at providing stimulating discussion that spans generations, levels of experience, backgrounds and competencies.

The two special guest debaters for the evening were Dr Jane Golley, Acting Director, Australian Centre on China in the World, ANU, and Ms Geraldine Doogue AO, ABC Broadcaster. The young professionals participants were Ms Simone van Nieuwenhuizen, Project and Research Officer, Australia-China Relations Institute, and Ms Belinda McEniery, Health Economics Associate, Johnson & Johnson. The debate was moderated by Mr Dirk Van der Kley, PhD Candidate, ANU.

The debate started strong with Dr. Golley insisting that anecdote and statistics play a key role in separating fact from fiction. Golley revealed five separate instances in detail regarding visa and book publication deal cancellations, and anecdotes of joint collaboration for publication in journals whereby content had been altered in the editing process in order to reach publishers’ requests for a softer tone. The punchline– they were all personal anecdotes.

Simone van Nieuwenhuizen from the Australia-China Relations Institute at UTS did well to rebut these points while simultaneously bringing to light more factual recounts regarding media stories of detained academics from her own institution. At the heart of her argument for the negative team was her insistence that there was no real threat, the academic relationship is strong and the media have led to a misrepresentation of relations.

Belinda McEniery, Health Economics Associate, Johnson & Johnson then discussed the topic from an economic and policy perspective, arguing that the PRC has so many policy levers that simply leave Australia too vulnerable. McEniery spoke more broadly of political interference citing recent cases in Federal politics to exhibit the breadth of the issue.

The final speaker was one of Australia’s most loved journalists, Ms Geraldine Doogue AO, ABC Broadcaster. Doogue again attempted to argue that public opinion had been too heavily tainted by media headlines. Doogue spoke of the impact of these developments on Chinese students studying in Australia, and argued that there are deeper aspects to the story that need more attention. She again rebutted the affirmative team by assuring the audience that our institutions are more robust than we might think. And this, she closed with, is the most important thing to remember when we are considering threats. Threats are only threats when we fail to mitigate them.

The event concluded with a robust Q&A where members of the audience were able to interact with the panel, seeking their expertise on the topics discussed. Once all questions had been fielded, the moderator, Louisa Bochner of China Matters asked the audience to vote for the winning team. The affirmative team of Dr Jane Golley and Belinda McEniery won with a count of 44-32.

After the event the crowd broke out into NYU Sydney’s Edgeworth David room for catering and refreshments. Sydney students and guests were able to talk to the panel one-to-one to discuss the debate in more detail.

NYU Sydney was also proud to host John McCarthy, Senior Advisor to Mitsubishi Materials Corporation in Tokyo, and the Chair of the Advisory Board of the Griffith Asia Institute; Stephen FitzGerald, adviser to former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, and Australia’s first ambassador to the People’s Republic of China; Jocelyn Chey, founding Director of the Australia-China Institute for Arts and Culture, Western Sydney University 2016-17; and Laurie Smith, member of the national board of the Australia China Business Council and Executive Director of International at Austrade 2011-2015.