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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 Prague Student Perspective: Rumburk with ROMEA: a Weekend with Romani Students from Across the Czech Republic

The Roma, the largest minority group in Europe, suffer from much institutional discrimination, including in the area of education. Nandini Kochar is an NYU Abu Dhabi film student currently studying at NYU Prague, and at the beginning of the semester she approached NYU Prague staff asking how she could meet or work with Roma, as she wanted to focus her film on this community.  Yveta Kenety is the Assistant Director of Student Life at NYU Prague and used to work for the nonprofit ROMEA running a mentorship program for Roma high school students. Yveta arranged for Nandini to do a non-credit internship there; read about her experiences meeting Roma youth for the first time.

I have the pleasure of interning at ROMEA, a non-profit organization that advocates for the rights of the Czech Republic’s marginalized Roma population. As part of the internship, my friend Vitoria and I were given the opportunity to visit the small town of Rumburk and spend the weekend with Romani high school students. What started off as an educational trip focusing on interviews and photojournalism quickly transcended into a thought-provoking and humbling experience where our preconceived notions about the Romani people were fundamentally challenged and dispelled. We went from viewing the Romani students as victims of discrimination to everyday-teenagers with dreams and experiences no different from ours.

Rumburk is situated in northern Bohemia (Czech Republic) with a population of around 11,000 people. ROMEA chose this town as the site for the eighth meeting of their BARUVAS program – meaning “We Are Growing” in the Romani language – that is offered as part of their Romani Scholarship Program. The program focuses on educating Romani students about their shared history and culture, as well as imparting relevant skills to them through workshops and seminars on media representation, networking, theatre, etc.

During the course of these workshops, we pulled aside the participants one-by-one and conducted interviews with them. We asked them about their family and childhood, their schooling experience, challenges they had faced, and their passions and dreams. Our first interviewee was Natalie from the little town of Chomutov. She is an aspiring singer, currently studying music at the Prague Conservatory. Natalie told us about her battle with identity in middle school where she found it difficult to take pride in being Romani. Her peers used to think that she was Hawaiian, and she chose not to correct them because “it was easier that way.” But after attending her first workshop with ROMEA, she began to find strength in who she is and reclaim her identity. “Soon after [the workshop], I decided to go upto my friends and confess that I’m actually Romani. I told them that if they weren’t okay with it then I didn’t want to be their friend.”

Another interviewee, Mario, shared his experience of being treated differently at school. “The most difficult time for me was in 9th grade when I wanted to pursue higher education, but my teachers refused to support me. That’s where ROMEA came in. They gave me funding so I could obtain extra tutoring. And I’m now in business school.”

As Vitoria and I spoke with more Romani students, what struck me the most was not the extent of discrimination they had faced on the basis of their ethnic identity but rather their resilience in refusing to let those experiences define them. They didn’t want to be seen as victims. Because they are not. It was at that moment that I became acutely aware of my own biases – I was so influenced by media’s one-sided depiction of the Roma and their marginalization that I had failed to see them beyond their social standing. But our personal interaction with them had quickly destabilized and shattered that reductive image. Vitoria shares the moment when this realization dawned upon her, “When we walked into the room and realized that this looks like a regular NYU Abu Dhabi class, it was a moment of wow, they’re wearing clothes I could never put together– their makeup is on point and their swagger level is amazingly high.” Indeed, they were just normal high school kids going through the typical teenage phase of being ‘too cool’.

On a more serious note, Vitoria and I – both being women of colour – found resonance with the Romani students’ experiences of identity struggle and feeling of otherness. And by the end of the weekend, our relationship with them had shifted from interviewer-interviewee to friends. So much so that we were invited to their farewell party and were able to witness the ‘gypsy dance,’ as they call it, and jam with them to Romani folk songs.

After our first night in Rumburk, I was reminded of something Nigerian novelist, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, had said in her Ted Talk, “The Danger of a Single Story”, that has stuck with me through the years:

“What struck me was this: she had felt sorry for me even before she saw me. Her default position toward me, as an African, was a kind of patronizing, well-meaning, pity. My roommate had a single story of Africa. A single story of catastrophe. In this single story there was no possibility of Africans being similar to her, in any way. No possibility of feelings more complex than pity. No possibility of a connection as human equals.”

I will forever be grateful for my weekend in Rumburk because it saved me from falling into the pitfall of a single story of the Romani people. There are multiple stories and experiences and people existing within that one dominant narrative. And once we realize this, we begin to see that our similarities outweigh our differences, and we share so much more than we think.


Student Perspective – Accra on a Budget

Valerie Ugochi Egonu, currently studying at NYU Accra, describes budgeting for her rich experiences studying in Accra.
One of my biggest concerns when I decided that I wanted to study abroad was the financial aspect of it. I love exploring, trying new foods, and going out with friends, but on the New York campus those activities can be pretty expensive and immersive cultural  experiences really add up. To my surprise, when I got to Accra I realized how budget friendly this city is, especially as a student. Today I’ll be spending a day in Accra for less than 50 cedis (10 USD).
Osu is a bustling neighborhood with street vendors, restaurants and nightlife, which make it an ideal place to spend the day. The uber to Osu from the NYU dorms is anywhere from 5-7 cedis. If I forget to bring a snack, I can easily buy plantain chips or nuts while in the car for 1 cedi. The main road, Oxford street, is a great place to take a walk and do a bit of people watching. If I get thirsty, which is bound to happen under the hot Ghana sun, I might stop and get a refreshing coconut for 3 cedis or a coke for 5 cedis. When I start to get hungry, I’ll head over to a kiosk and get waakye and kelewle, local street foods consisting of rice, beans and fried plantains, which ends up being about 10 cedis. As night falls, I head over Republic, a chill local bar, and meet a friend for drinks. I get a cocktail and watch as locals and tourists go up for karaoke, this ends up being 18 cedis. As the night winds down, I head to my favorite ice cream spot, Pinocchio’s, and get one scoop of the hazelnut ice cream. Spending the semester in Accra has given me the opportunity to explore and have fun without breaking the bank.

Conversations Podcast Hosted by NYU President Andy Hamilton

In this new podcast, President Andy Hamilton interviews NYU faculty, students, and alumni who are using their intellectual gifts, determination, and creativity to make a profound difference in our world. With each guest, he pulls back the curtain to learn the origins of their inspiration, the current focus of their work, and their vision for the future. His first guest is Rubén Blades(Fear The Walking Dead)— Steinhardt’s scholar in residence.

NYU Tel Aviv Students Featured in The Times of Israel

NYU Tel Aviv students at EMIS

The Times of Israel recently published an essay about NYU Tel Aviv students visiting the Eastern Mediterranean International School (EMIS). The essay was written by NYU Abu Dhabi student Rodrigo Ferreira who is currently studying in Tel Aviv and an alum of EMIS. NYU Tel Aviv students from New York, Shanghai, and Abu Dhabi participated in the outing. The exchange was meaningful for the EMIS and NYU students. Read Rodrigo’s essay here.

Former NYU Sydney Student Presents Behavioral Research

Former NYU Sydney student, Julia Moses recently presented at the 30th Annual Greater New York Conference on Behavioral Research at Fordham University.

Julia presented her research on Infant Studies of Language and Neurocognitive Development. The research is a result of working with Dr. Natalie Brito at Infant Studies of Language and Neurocognitive Development” (ISLAND lab). “The presentation was about how maternal anxiety may have an effect on 3 month old infants. I measured the blinks per minute of the baby during a recorded 5 minute play task with the mother and counted the number of blinks over the time period,” explained Julia. 

“Using the number of blinks as a measure of dopamine production in the infant, we can infer that the rate of blinks per minute is telling us about the baby’s internal state. Through surveys the mother took and counting the blinks, preliminary results have shown that mothers who feel less stressed in the moment correlate with higher blinks in the infant due to (inferred) higher dopamine production in the infant’s brain. ”

“This is very early on into our research so nothing is certain yet as we don’t have enough participants, we are hoping to continue with more studies to build on the research”.

NYU Sydney Students Visit Local Initiative with Global Equity Fellow

On December 6, 2018, NYU Sydney’s Global Equity Fellow, Juliana Maia led a group of students to Summer Hill to visit the Four Brave Woman initiative.

Four Brave Woman is a project that works to empower refugees by providing a commercial kitchen and seating area for use as a restaurant. Refugees are invited to spend eight weeks at the location cooking for paying customers and managing daily operations.

Customers are invited to enjoy lunch or dinner six days a week. At the end of each eight week period the goal is for participants to gain enough experience and capital to establish their own business. Juliana and her friends were treated to a wonderful Iraqi meal followed by an opportunity to talk with their hosts and staff. During this conversation the students learned that the Four Brave Women initiative is receiving international recognition for its work and requests to sponsor similar initiatives in other parts of the globe. It was a great afternoon for our students and hands-on experiences are a great reminder of the value of the Global Equity Fellowship at NYU Sydney.

At NYU Sydney Global Equity Fellows are encouraged to provide opportunities for their peers
to not only explore individual identity but to also explore the lived experiences of individuals within the local community. By connecting with members of the Australian public, students can learn about the aspects of identity that are salient for people living in another part of the world. Opportunities for students to learn about the interplay between national identity and other aspects of social identity are characteristic of the invaluable learning that occurs when students study away.

Internships at NYU Accra

Each semester, students at NYU Accra have the opportunity to participate in for credit and non-credit internships. They are placed with organizations that align with their courses of study.

Steinhardt junior Gabrielle Henoch is completing a for credit internship at the Ghanaian nonproft Street Girls Aid, an organization created to help keep young women and their families of the streets. Gabby helps take care of children during the day so their mothers can work. She loves working with the children, and she said it feels good to tell them that they can achieve their dreams.

Steinhardt junior Amanda Joa interns at Legon Hospital, by the University of Ghana. There, he responsibilities include taking anthropomorphic measurements and reading laboratory results to assess medical conditions. She also makes informative posters and sheets about nutrition and shadows dietitians throughout the wards and during consultations. She takes part in the journal club, where she edits diet sheets used in consultations.

CAS junior Red Ali is doing a non-credit internship at the creative agency Creátures. She works on the company’s Afreetune project, which provides a platform for their audience to invest in music artists. Ali writes articles, manages social media, and plans events such as Kente Kink’s ArtBeat and Afreetune’s After6. Her favorite part of the internship is getting to plan events.

New PragueCast – Midnight

The latest edition of PragueCast, NYU’s Prague’s podcast that covers all matter of exciting topics related to the city. Created by NYU Prague students with support from NYU Prague professor and BBC correspondent Rob Cameron, PragueCast is always an interesting listen. The latest edition explores what happens when most of the city is sleeping, discovering Prague at midnight. Have a listen here – https://soundcloud.com/nyupraguecast/midnight.

Volunteering at NYU Accra

There are dozens of opportunities for students to volunteer while at NYU Accra. Students tend to participate in volunteer opportunities involving children. Getting to know the youth of Accra has served as a way for NYU Accra students to gain a unique perspective on specific slices of life in the city, and it allows students to give back to the community they call home for the semester.

SPS sophomore Arik Rosenstein is a huge football (soccer) fan. In fact, he decided to study abroad in Accra because he wanted to understand how the sport serves communities here. When Arik arrived, he quickly worked with Victor Yeboah, NYU Accra’s community service director, to find a school in the neighborhood of Labone whose soccer team he could coach on Fridays. He balances this with an internship at the professional football team, Accra Hearts of Oak.

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CAS junior Natasha Roy volunteers at New Horizon Special School, a school for special needs people in Accra, twice a week. New Horizon Special School is located in the nearby neighborhood of Cantonments and serves children and adults with learning disabilities by providing both education and workshops for vocational skills.. NYU has a tradition of students volunteering at New Horizon, and Natasha helps the teachers in a classroom for 11-16-year-olds.