On the day we raised £612 which was way beyond anything I had expected to raise. Since the opening day I have placed ‘honesty boxes’ in the room and students can go in anytime between 7am-11pm and take a book and leave their donation in the box. Since the opening day we have already raised another £100 and are now looking to hit the £1000 mark in the next few weeks.
This reflection comes from NYU London student Destiny Gallegos, who shares her experiences during the joint NYU London and NYU Paris volunteer trip to Calais and Dunkirk.
What better way is there to start the best month of the year in France doing something that matters for people who need it? That’s exactly how I spent the first and second of December during the Calais Volunteer Trip to assist Help Refugees in their efforts to provide the refugees in Calais with provisions they so desperately need. There was plenty of sorting and cooking and loving happening at the warehouse those two days.
Admittedly, before going on this trip I did not know as much about the whole situation in France with the refugee crisis as I do now after the trip. It wasn’t until our debriefing upon arrival at the warehouse that I learned how awful the refugees have it in Calais. From sleepless nights and severe police brutality to their tents being slashed and them and everything they own being sprayed in teargas to suffering through endless days and nights in the miserable, wet weather — the refugees need any bit of help they can get. All of this appalls me. I couldn’t have been happier to be there helping this organization give these people some hope and kindness each day.
For both days I was on kitchen duty. I volunteered with amazing English and French people who were running the Refugee Community Kitchen (RCK) and even had the opportunity to mingle with and work alongside students from NYU Paris. The people behind RCK were so unbelievably devoted and made the hard work we did enjoyable. There was music. There was dancing. There were jokes and giggles. All of the people in charge went out of their way to make us feel comfortable and happy while we were working for them. They also fed us some really yummy (and VEGAN!) lunches that warmed us up after spending hours in 1°C weather. Good food, good company, and good work for a good cause? I wouldn’t even have to think twice about signing up for this trip again if there was a second, third, or fourth opportunity to do it.
Some of my tasks included washing and drying a seemingly endless mountain of dishes, opening gigantic cans of this and that, cutting, chopping and peeling various vegetables, and trying my hardest to stop the tears from escaping my eyes as I dealt with onions. When I wanted a different task, all I need do was ask the people in charge and they automatically had something else for me to do. It was definitely a hustle-and-bustle environment in the kitchen at all times because RCK provides lunch and dinner to the refugees in The Jungle (the area in the forests where the refugees congregate) every day. Everyone was aware at all times of the urgency and importance it was to have the food done and ready for distribution on time because we knew how hungry and cold the refugees must have been if we ourselves were shivering with our coats and hats and scarves surrounded by stoves of boiling foods. There were a few times when I became rather upset and bothered with myself and others because we commented (even complained) about how cold we were when we didn’t even have it nearly as bad as the refugees do day and night on end.
For the night we stayed in a French hotel in Dunkirk. It had heat, warm water, and comfortable beds. That in itself was more than the refugees have and I went to bed that night counting my blessings for things that I before considered to be givens in my life that would actually be luxuries to others. It’s saddening to know that I live in a world where some people can have so much while others have nothing, not even the treatment of human decency.
To say this trip was humbling is an understatement. Not only did it make me really see how privileged I actually am, but it challenged me to want to use that privilege to benefit people who do not and never will have it as easy as I do in life. It was beautiful to see so many people wholeheartedly committed day in and day out to show the refugees that they matter and that they have not been forgotten. I’ve done some charity work in the past, and while all my experiences have affected me in one way or another, I have never felt as touched as I do after having worked with Help Refugees and Refugee Community Kitchen. The greatest takeaway I have from this trip is how easy and meaningful it is to make a difference when you’re in a position to do so.
My only complaint is that I, and everyone else from NYU, felt that we could have done more volunteering. Hopefully the next time this trip rolls around, NYU will make it a full weekend commitment. It was more than worth the £50, wearing Crocs all day in the kitchen, and the newly acquired permanent stench of onions on my hands that won’t go away despite numerous washes and showers. If you want to take a part in something that matters and have fun whilst promoting humanitarian greatness, the Calais trip is for you. The hotel being in Dunkirk was also nice because it was a 10-15 minute walk away from the beach of Mal-les-Bains. I woke up really early the second day of the trip and went to the beach after breakfast to watch the sun rise before we headed back to Calais for more volunteering.
It’s not every day that you get to have experiences that touch the core of your humanity and leave an imprint on all of your values, so if the chance to work with Help Refugees ever crosses your path, you MUST do it. But if you aren’t physically able to help the cause, then please donate. Any amount of money you give can help make the difference that these people need. It’s been said time and time again but only because it’s so true– I’ve witnessed it firsthand. Be one of the reasons a refugee finds the strength to not give up hope.
The original post can be found on the NYU London volunteers blog here.
Austin Basallo, a Gallatin senior studying philosophy, studied abroad in Spring 2016 as a sophomore. While there, he participated in a volunteer trip to the Calais refugee camp. The trip involved students from both NYU London and NYU Paris and was both illuminating and intense for all involve. Austin reflects upon his experience for us:
I did not appreciate the gravity of the situation NYU London was signing me up for. It was a simple email invitation, like so many others, offering abroad students another extracurricular chance to do something “neat,” and for free, in another country. When we boarded the coach parked parallel to Coram’s fields I had little idea how we were getting to France, nor what I’d be doing. It was until a few hours later when our vehicle entered a train which ran through a tunnel to the coast of France that it dawned upon me: I was in a very different place.
Once we exited the train, we drove on a long dirt road along the coast. To our right, the small town of Calias. To our left, a chain wire fence separating us from an appalling site: an endless ocean of tents—rags really. Blues, reds, orange, tattered, high up, down low, and all dirty. All belonging to the refugee camp. We were brought to an isolated warehouse, surrounded by greenery, a quasi-secret base of operations. We actually were at a refugee distribution center, a joint effort ran by Help Refugees and L’auberge des Migrants, two refugee aid organizations.
The moment we hopped out of the coach we were given forms indicating that we would not take photos advertising the location nor would we be handing out this sensitive information once we left. Quasi-base was turning into actual base. I was beginning to experience firsthand just how charged the subject of refugees, and more controversially helping them, was in Europe.
Once signed and handed off, we were guided into the distribution center. Divided into three main sections, the warehouse was home to the three essentials for any human’s survival: food, clothing, and shelter. The food for feeding, the clothing for warming, and the shelter for protecting. All things the refugees were fighting for. Each section had its own system of packaging and sending out their specific materials.
I was assigned to the food section, experiencing firsthand how efficiently 10 people could assemble “care packages” of food. The system was based around packaging boxes based on family size. For a family of ten: 2 liters of oil, 5 kg of rice, 4 cans of beans, etc. Hopefully, enough food to last the recipients a week. Surrounded by industrials racks holding large reserves of food, a collection of tables had bins filled with all of the supplies required. Warm folk music turns on, and people get moving. The veteran volunteers run laps around the newbies, deftly filling up box after box with a variety of food items, knowing that the rice stacks well with the beans but not the oil, and sugar and spices always go at the top so the bags aren’t damaged and the contents spilled. But as time passes, the newcomers find their stride and began filling up boxes just as quickly and effectively. Not much talking happens, everyone is laser-focused on filling up the boxes, as though if lives depended on it. I only realized later that lives did, and continue to, depend on it. Within hours, some two hundred boxes were packaged and ready to be delivered.
After all of this work, lunch time came about and the community of volunteers came together to break bread. All walks of life were present. An old French pair, chatting while eating lentil soup. Several groups of students from both NYU London and NYU Paris, exchanging their experiences abroad. World travelers, people who can’t stop moving but help everywhere they can along the way. A gypsy couple tattooed from head-to-toe with ornate dreadlocks. The environment was so peaceful, removed from all of the politicking about the refugee crisis. These were just people who wanted to help. From the moment I entered the warehouse, I felt like I was a part of a community. A community of helpers, working towards something greater than all of us individually. It did not matter where we came from, or where we were going—the problems of the refugee were so great we all wanted to do something about it, even if only for a moment.
The day was coming to a close. Packages had been sealed, clothes organized, and the warehouse a little tidier than when we found it. We said our goodbyes to newfound friends, walked out of the warehouse, and boarded the coach. On our way back to London, I just began realizing that the experience had been surreal. I accidentally became part of movement that is rocking a continent. The implications are huge, brining in questions of human rights, national sovereignty, and international politics. These controversies played out in my head, inundating me into a deep sleep. A few hours later, I found myself waking up in Bloomsbury. I’m still not sure if I ever left.
Today we hear directly from an NYU London Professor, Dr. Philip Woods. Professor Woods teaches two classes at NYU London: Britain and Slavery 1492-1865 and Cultures and Contexts: Multinational Britain. He has been teaching at NYU London for more than fifteen years and says “it has been a really good experience.” Professor Woods also enjoys teaching American study abroad students, saying “They tend to be very enthusiastic and keen to learn about the country they are studying in.” He also is a “firm believer” in the benefits of studying abroad. He has seen students “transformed in terms of their increased confidence and broadened in their understanding of the wider world.” Professor Woods especially “appreciates[s] the importance that US universities, especially NYU, give to study abroad and opening up opportunities regardless of income. The book he recently published and describes in the post below, which involved studying war correspondents, was a new venture for him. Professor Woods describes himself as “still learning,” and notes “I will continue my research looking at media management in the Second World War in the Burma campaign, the longest of the war. |it is interesting how many people have told me about relatives who were involved in the campaign since they heard about my book.”
The British-Indian army fighting in Burma during 1942 is sometimes misleadingly referred to as a ‘Forgotten Army’. In fact, the army’s long retreat was given good coverage in the western press which provided twenty-six correspondents to cover the campaign. Philip Woods’s new book is the first scholarly analysis of media coverage of this retreat, focusing on newsreel, magazine and newspaper correspondents. It argues for the historical value of the journalists’ contribution, most especially in their published memoirs. The book has implications for the study of journalism and the history of Burma and India.
The British defeat in Burma at the hands of the Japanese in 1942 marked the longest retreat in British army history and the beginning of the longest campaign in the war. It also, arguably, marked the beginning of the end of British rule, not only in Burma but also in south and south east Asia more broadly. There have been many studies of the military and civilian experiences during the retreat but my book, Reporting the Retreat: War Correspondents in Burma 1942 (published by Hurst on 3 November 2016) is the first to look at the way the campaign was represented through the western media: newspapers, pictorial magazines, and newsreels. There were some twenty-six accredited war correspondents covering the campaign, and almost half of them wrote books about their experiences, mostly within a year or two of the defeat. Their accounts were heavily criticised by government officials as being misinformed and sensationalist. Historians have tended to avoid using them, except to add colour to their accounts, perhaps because they are seen as being too patriotic and optimistic in their coverage and thus giving the public an unrealistic view of how the war was progressing.
My book draws on archival sources to assess the validity of these criticisms. How do the war correspondents see their role? It is clichéd to talk of war journalism in terms of ‘The First Draft of History’ but in view of wartime censorship restrictions it does seem that correspondents were keen to have their experiences recorded, especially when they could publish less censored versions usually within a year or two of the key campaigns they were covering. What were the constraints on war correspondents, other than censorship? Clearly, there were limits resulting from the nature of the media that they worked in, often exacerbated by wartime considerations, such as the reduction in newspaper space. This can be seen very clearly in the case of the newsreel cameramen, two of whom covered the Burma retreat. By examining their films and the supporting documentation, one can see how they needed to meet the requirements of the newsreel business, which acted as a largely patriotic, rather anodyne adjunct to the main films which audiences had come to see. Even so, the newsreels and the photographs which appeared in the popular pictorial magazines of the day, provide very good evidence of the way that the war was represented to the British, American and Australian publics in the days before television.
There is, of course, the issue of authenticity in the reporting: did the journalists make up stories or present them in a misleading way? Evelyn Waugh’s satirical novel Scoop (1938) famously depicted the way in which journalists would sit in the bar far from the action and file reports which started ‘From the battle-front…’ Journalists in Burma were sometimes caught out, claiming to be witnessing events first-hand when they were reporting second-hand accounts. From the First World War there were clear examples of battle scenes being faked or re-enacted for the cameras. During the Burma retreat I did find a clear case where a battle was re-staged for newsreel and still cameramen, but this was exceptional and went against clear company guidelines. As in the First World War, it resulted from the difficulty of getting good action pictures, in this case because of jungle and night-time fighting.
Generally speaking, I believe the war correspondents did a good job within the constraints they faced. The job was both dangerous and very emotionally taxing. The Hemingway-style machoism expected of them served to cover up what today would be described as post-traumatic stress. It made a definite difference to the quality of the reporting when they were able to cover the fighting directly, as against newspapers relying on army communiques. However, it is in their memoirs rather than in their contemporary dispatches that the best quality is to be found. Using notes and photographs taken at the time, they reconstructed fuller and more analytical accounts of the campaign. Most correspondents had left-wing sympathies, which were usually strengthened by their wartime experiences. They pressed for political concessions to be made to India and Burma if the allies were to win the support in these countries that was necessary to win the war. They were saw the need to support Nationalist China under Chiang Kai-Shek, whose armies playing a major role in Burma, although they provided damning evidence of the Chinese corruption and politicking that was undermining the Lend-Lease supplies sent by the USA. The American and Australian reporters were the most critical of the hierarchical, racist and bureaucratic nature of British colonial regimes in India, Burma and Malaya.
Although my book may seem narrowly focused on a few months in 1942, it has much broader implications both for the study of journalism and for the history of Burma and India. A good deal of attention has been given to the loss of Singapore in February 1942 but the fall of Rangoon and the subsequent inevitable loss of Burma was actually much more serious, opening up major threats to India and China. The loss of Burma’s rice exports to India and the implementation of scorched earth tactics would soon have disastrous effects on Bengal, contributing to devastating famine in 1943. The mass migration of hundreds of thousands of Indian refugees from Burma and the tragic loss of life involved contributed to a devastating blow to Britain’s image as protector of its citizens in the region and proved impossible to repair. I examine the way that sheltering and evacuation from Rangoon was mishandled by the Government of Burma and its hapless Governor, Sir Reginald Dorman-Smith. I also look at the way that journalists had to contain their private views on these issues in their newspapers but made them very clear in their later memoirs. The Government of Burma continued to operate in Simla after the retreat and devised detailed plans for their post-war return. But as Chris Bayly and Tim Harper have so admirably shown in Forgotten Armies (Penguin: 2005), there was to be no lasting return for either the Governor nor British rule in Burma. The war had given rise to more radical nationalisms in the region that could not be assuaged.
Reporting the Retreat: War Correspondents in Burma 1942 is now available here.
About the Author
Dr. Philip Woods studied History at LSE and the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. He has published on British-Indian politics after World War I, and the British use of film as propaganda in India. He has taught at the University of West London, Kingston University, and now teaches at NYU London.
This is a post from NYU Abu Dhabi. Although January Term originated with NYU Abu Dhabi, now other students in NYU’s global network, notably those from NYU Shanghai, have the opportunity to experience a January Term.
Education at NYU Abu Dhabi is not just about learning facts from textbooks and passing multiple choice exams. It’s an immersive experience for NYUAD students, who, each January Term choose hands-on classes in cities from Al Ain to Buenos Aires that challenge their perceptions of the past and enrich their visions of the future.
There are dozens of courses offered in J-Term that get students out of the classroom to learn about the world as it was before, and experience the world as it really is today, like Jazz or the Financial Crisis taught in New York City, Emirati Arabic in Al Ain, Museum History in Berlin, and these seven examples that span the globe. Note: course descriptions have been edited.
Oasis Coast and Mountain
Faculty: Steven C. Caton and Donald M. Scott
Course location: UAE and Oman
A course that challenges students’ perceptions of Arabian landscapes as being mainly desert by showing them three distinct habitat zones: desert oasis, maritime ports, and mountain farms all within 250 kilometers of each other across the UAE and Oman.
Students learn through observational site visits, direct encounters and interactions with local peoples and places through walking tours, interviews, photography and sketching.
Imagining the Renaissance City
Faculty: Jane Tylus
Course location: NYU Florence
Northern and central Italy’s bustling towns inspired many of today’s modern cities and also pioneered recognizably modern artistic, cultural, and engineering practices. Florence was a powerhouse of culture and industry and Siena the ‘Wall Street of Europe’ with the skyline to match.
Students spend three weeks getting to know these towns intimately. Explore downtown Florence, Siena, and the Tuscan countryside. Walk from the town of Fiesole (with its Etruscan ruins and Roman theater), to Monte Ceceri (from whose summit a student of Leonardo da Vinci’s tried to fly; good start, sad ending). Visit seats of government and Renaissance orphanages, climb towers for bird’s-eye views, prowl a crypt recently excavated under Siena’s cathedral, visit churches on hills overlooking Florence and the cells of monks, and walk the trail of the stonecutters to see where Michelangelo found his stone.
Faculty: John Burt
Course location: Sydney
Over 80 percent of the Australian population lives within 100 kilometers of a coast and virtually all major Australian cities occur on coastlines. As a result, Australia’s coastal environments have been substantially modified to suit human needs.
Using Sydney’s terrestrial, marine, and built environments as a natural laboratory for field research, students collect environmental data throughout the city and use geographic information systems (GIS) to examine the spatial patterns of human impacts to Sydney’s environment and compare their results with patterns observed in other coastal cities.
Faculty: Professor Michael Beckerman
Course location: Prague
Prague should have been destroyed during the Second World War, like other major cities in Europe, but somehow it wasn’t. Its remarkable survival allows us to explore Central European history and culture in the context of a completely preserved inner urban core dating back to the Middle Ages.
Class time includes walking tours around Prague, trips to museums, castles, theaters, classical concerts including Mozart’s Magic Flute and Janacek’s From the House of the Dead, and several excursions outside the city to the Eastern Province of Moravia, birthplace of Mahler and Freud, and to the UNESCO Heritage site of Cesky Krumlov.
Democracy and its Critics
Faculty: Philip Mitsis
Course location: Abu Dhabi / Athens
An examination of one of history’s most radical and influential democracies, ancient Athens.
Students assume historical roles in key decision-making institutions and debate questions about democratic procedures, the extension of voting rights, religion and free speech, foreign policy, etc., often in the very locations where these ancient debates occurred.
The Idea of the Portrait
Faculty: Shamoon Zamir
Course location: London
The course draws upon the rich resources of London’s museums and galleries to examine a wide range of portraits and self-portraits in painting and photography from different periods of history and from different cultures.
Students visit The National Gallery, British Museum, Tate Modern, Tate Britain, the Queen’s Collection, the Courtauld Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, and the Victoria & Albert Museum, as well as the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.
Faculty: Arlene Davila
Course location: Buenos Aires
Latin America has been undergoing rapid urbanization and is increasingly recognized as a continent made up of “countries of cities,” yet the dominant Latin American image has been on indigenous or traditional communities, which are always imagined as rural and authentic, rather than modern and urbanized.
Buenos Aires provides an urban laboratory to explore culture in urban development, urban tourism, and the marketing and internationalization of tango. Guided tours and guest speakers enrich students’ appreciation of contemporary Buenos Aires.
Original post by Andy Gregory, NYUAD Public Affairs, available here.
Gary Slapper, NYU London’s beloved Site Director, and an NYU Global Professor, passed away on Sunday after a brief and sudden illness.
“Gary was one of the first members of the NYU community I came to know, and we have not only lost a great site director, but also someone of great humanity,” said NYU
President Andrew Hamilton. “Gary helped to build London into one of NYU’s premier sites with grace, attention to detail, and of course, a sense of humor that was second to none.”
Gary was named Site Director in 2011, after serving as director of the Open University’s Centre for Law. During Gary’s tenure, NYU London experienced a nearly fifty percent increase in enrollment, with more than 1,000 students studying at the site each year, and the site expanded its academic breadth to include disciplines such as education, public health, and fashion.
“Gary was a cherished member of the NYU community,” said Linda G. Mills, Lisa Ellen Goldberg Professor and vice chancellor for Global Programs and University Life. “His commitment to NYU’s students, lecturers, and administrators was at his very core, closely rivaled by his sense of humor and great intellect, all of which brought smiles as well as keen insights on a daily basis. We are all in shock that such a rich and generous life has been extinguished far far too soon.
Gary was a true renaissance man, nimbly switching between law, philosophy, football, the environment, and pop culture (with The Simpsons holding a special place in his heart). He was also an accomplished writer, penning The Times [of London] Weird Cases column, in which he explored particularly strange legal cases, bringing immense entertainment to his readers – and we think it’s safe to assume, to Gary himself.
“Rarely can a ‘boss’ have been a more popular and revered figure,” said Eric Sneddon, associate director, NYU London. “We all recall a man of warmth, great humor, gifted at once with a razor sharp mind and a common touch. The university has lost someone truly special; anyone who moved within Gary’s orbit would feel enrichened and would know the world is now poorer.”
A graduate of University College London, Gary received his Ph.D. from the London School of Economics. He was the author of some 15 books concerning law and the English legal system, and was also a visiting professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
The NYU community extends its deepest sympathies to Gary’s wife, Suzanne, his three daughters, Charlotte, Emily, and Hannah, and the rest of his family, friends, and colleagues, in the UK and beyond.
- Gary Slapper: The much-loved legal professor and columnist’s best tweets (Legal Cheek)
- Legal author and Twitter star Gary Slapper dies (The Law Society Gazette)
- Tributes to Gary Slapper, the first Head of the Law School at The Open University (The Open University)
- Remembering Gary Slapper (The Goodson Blogson)
- Gary Slapper: the man who brought law to life (The Times, registration required)
- Gary Slapper on Twitter
NYU London Professor Dr Clive Bloom’s recently published Thatcher’s Secret War: Subversion, Coercion, Secrecy and Government, 1974-90 has been nominated for the Bread & Roses Award for outstanding radical book of 2015. The book focuses on the rise of the British secret state (a secret bureaucracy) in modern times and the way the state-within-the-state warped the history of Thatcher’s premiership. Bloom argues that the secret bureaucracy of the state has become an uncontrolled, hidden political power in Britain, where power is no longer decided by parliamentary process. Dr Bloom teaches Gothic Literature and Cultural Foundations at NYU London. More information can be found here: www.clivebloom.com
NYU London Professor Dr Sophie Von Stumm, who teaches Personality, has launched a new iPhone application with her laboratory (The Hungry Mind Lab) that allows people to track their mood and brainpower over time. The app – ‘moo-Q’ – can monitor your cognitive function throughout the day (you can set how often it sends you alerts) and will tell you when your brainpower is at its best. The application will also track your mood and aims to analyse how mood changes are related to within-person differences in cognitive function. The app works by the user completing a series of tests – including memorizing and adding up a series of numbers – throughout the day. Users’ data will be confidential but the results will be used for a University of London research project. It is available for free and more information can be found here: www.hungrymindlab.com/moo-q. Sophie also won the 2015 Rising Star Award by the Association for Psychological Science (APS).
NYU London Professor Benedict O’Looney, who teaches Seeing London’s Architecture, is currently working on a new project in South London – a women’s and children’s wing for the Croydon Mosque, opening in June 2016. The Croydon Mosque is one of the biggest in Britain and this recent addition marks the third stage of development since the 1980’s. The project has attempted to harmonize traditional Islamic architecture with London’s familiar brick Victorian and Edwardian public buildings and includes a new men’s wudu (bathing area), a last rites room (janazah) and day-lit double prayer room for women and children. The project echoes the international spirit of NYU! More information can be found here: www.benedictolooney.co.uk/croydon-mosque
On April 22, NYU Florence will host a global student dialogue on Europe’s migration crisis. Europe’s migration crisis has become one of the most urgent policy challenges of our time. This Global Dialogue brings students from NYU sites around the world together to look at the overall structure of the migration crisis; the responses of national governments, the European Union and international organizations to the crisis; and to analyze the different impacts of the migration crisis on society and culture including public opinion, the media and the arts.
The three panels will include panelists located in Florence, London, New York, and Washington, DC. The first panel is Instability in the Mediterranean: The Structure of the Crisis and will provide background; the second, Slow to React? Responses to the Crisis, will explore what has – and hasn’t – been done in response; the third panel, Charting a New Landscape: The Impact of the Crisis on Society, will consider what the implications of the crisis have been thus far and also look ahead.
Students from across NYU’s global network can participate in this dialogue. The live conference stream, which also allows viewers to submit questions, is available here.