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Internship Mixes Computer Science and Economics to Help Boost Development in Ghana

Students from around the NYU global network get a unique opportunity each year to participate in an internship in Kumawu, a small town in Ghana, where they work with the local population on technology to help improve their lives and livelihoods. The internship is organized by the Center for Technology and Economic Development (CTED) at NYU Abu Dhabi.

NYU London Student Reflects on Volunteering in Calais Refugee Camp

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.

NYU Sydney Focuses on Career Development for Study Away Students

Throughout a study abroad experience, students are challenged to look within. Upon arrival, their maturity and independence is tested. This occurs from the moment they are introduced into their new environment. They are pushed to navigate unexpected cultural differences, adapt to a different culture, and problem solve when necessary. This experience teaches students essential life skills which can later be transferred into their professional life.

With this in mind, NYU Wasserman Center for Career Development and NYU Global Programs recently teamed up to host NYU Global Career Week. This week long event was filled with career development seminars and was hosted virtually and in-person. This event encouraged students to start thinking about how they can leverage their study away experience in their next internship or full-time position.

This past March, NYU Sydney hosted Allison Pirpich, Manager of Global Career Development, to led NYU Global Career Week on-campus. During this week, Allison hosted in-person seminars on a global job search, an U.S. job search, and Virtual Interviewing. Allison also hosted a lecture called, “Telling your Global Story,” to the academic internship course that showed students how to identify their skills and translate it to future, professional positions. These seminars showed students how their global experience can be translated to the experience section of their resume, examples in their cover letter, and answers to an interview question. Students learned the key to this process is making their study away experience relevant to the job description and needs of the employer.

In addition to these seminars, Allison met with students in one-on-one coaching appointments. Students brought in a wide-range of questions from, “I have no idea what I want to do after I graduate. How will I decide?” to “How do I search for my next NY internship from Sydney?” These conversations gave students the opportunity to learn what resources were available and how to create a strategy for their next career-related goal. These meetings continued after NYU Global Career Week with virtual coaching appointments and drop-in hours.

This event was accompanied by a Wasserman Global Peer, a student leader who was versed in resume creation, cover letter advice and knowledge of career development resources. This leader led a Resume & Cover Letter Workshop and was an in-person touch point for students throughout the entire semester.

Students often study abroad with the idea of living and working abroad in the future. NYU Global Career Week showed students how to make the case that their experience abroad makes them a valued and competitive candidate. It is important to prepare students with the confidence to demonstrate applicable traits in post-graduation job applications and in the real world.

NYU Buenos Aires Students on Allyship and Trans Activist Alba Rueda

Ally Week is important across the NYU community. Here, three students from NYU Buenos Aires, Matthew Gibson, Ellen Heaghney, and Maritza Rico, share how they observed this tradition. Matthew is a junior in Gallatin studying Globalization who chose to study at NYU Buenos Aires to improve his Spanish skills and take advantage of the internship program. Ellen is a junior in Global Liberal Studies with a focus in Politics, Rights and Development and a double major in Spanish. She chose to come to Buenos Aires for the full academic year to improve her Spanish and also because after taking a course on International Human Rights she became very interested in the political history of Argentina. Martiza is a junior majoring in Latin American Studies who came to NYU Buenos Aires to learn more about the history and literature of Argentina in preparation for writing her senior thesis.

Ally Week in Buenos Aires – Conversation with Alba Rueda

Ally Week in Buenos Aires, an annual tradition across New York University’s global network, culminated last week after three days of discussion of culturally specific approaches to allyship in Argentina. On April 11th, NYU Buenos Aires welcomed Argentine professor and Trans activist, Alba Rueda, to have a conversation with students about the history of Trans movements in the country and her current work on the issue. Rueda currently serves as the president of Trans Women Argentina in addition to her work with the National Institute against Discrimination, Xenophobia and Racism.

Rueda set the stage for her discussion by explaining that although Argentina became the first Latin American country to legalize marriage equality, there still remains plenty of work in the fight for equality, for example the recognition of transgender identities in schools. She also illustrated a timeline of the relationship, fraught with tension, between the police and Argentine society, and in particular the LGBTQ community. She explained the persecution that arose during the last military dictatorship in the 70s and 80s and the ways in which traces of this discrimination are still very much present today. Rueda brought with her the personal testimony of a friend, who explained her struggle as a Trans individual in Argentine society. This individual was so often targeted by the police that she grew accustomed to being arrested, and even remembers being arrested three times in a single day. Her life was so often disrupted that she lost her job, and she always left the house with a change of clothes, just in case.

Beginning in the 1980’s, social organizations emerged to tackle the issue of persecution of queer communities like what this woman faced. Over time these organizations gained influence and won important victories, but they faced obstacles as well. Argentina as a nation is heavily influenced by its Catholic history–not to mention that the current pope is from Buenos Aires. Catholic organizations were large opponents in the fight for equality and recognition, and Rueda still remembers the moment Pope Francis proclaimed that God was against them.

Nonetheless, organizations like Rueda’s persevered, and with time were key players in important social change. In 2010, marriage equality was legalized, and in the following years rights for the queer community, especially Trans people, were increasingly protected. Soon, Argentine’s of any age were granted the right to change their name and gender officially on documents without any justification other than their own word. And throughout it all, those same organizations that fought for equality, were turned to in order to develop the content of new legislation. Today, Rueda emphasizes the importance for the Trans community of having role models–trans men and women who are respected and accepted in Argentine society.

Of course, there are still many challenges and more progress to be made. But we are at a point that Rueda never thought she would see in her entire life. From her point of view, more people than ever before are comfortable going out into the streets and living their lives. Thanks to the hard work of community leaders like Rueda, positive change was achieved in Argentina. A particularly impactful part of the talk with Rueda was the important reminder that LGBTQ communities are specific to local cultural nuances. She reminded us that each community, although in theory universal, still holds specific spaces that need to be understood and studied with local lenses and historical contexts in mind.   Today, they continue their work, part of which includes education and awareness, such as speaking to students like those of us at NYU Buenos Aires – teaching us all how to understand and contextualize Trans movements around the world, and be better allies moving forward.

Three NYU Shanghai Juniors on Their Decisions to Study Away

NYU’s global presence is an important part of what distinguishes the university. And study away is an integral experience for students from NYU Shanghai and NYU Abu Dhabi.. Here, three NYU Shanghai juniors share their study away stories from Buenos Aires to Berlin.

Lizzie LeClaire ’18

Global China Studies Major

Study Away Sites: NYU Madrid and NYU Buenos Aires

Enlightenment is a funny thing. You never know when it’s going to hit you. For Lizzy LeClaire, the moment of truth came when she found herself the only non-Chinese person in her Shanghai yoga class. The teacher was giving instructions in Mandarin and Lizzy, who was born and raised in Boston, understood what she was saying. “I’d been practicing my Mandarin, but this was a real litmus test,” says Lizzy, who is majoring in Global China Studies in order to gain an understanding of the country’s educational system. “For the first time, even as I was twisted into a pretzel, I felt accomplished and ready to go beyond the classroom.”

What Lizzy did with her new fluency was travel to a rural village in the Fujian Province to observe a small primary school. “Because many people in China are leaving the villages for the cities in search of work, small schools are being shut down due to declining enrollment. I wanted to see how this trend affected the teachers and students,” she says.

Education is highly valued in China, and although a school may have just a few students and maybe one teacher, there is still a strong desire to keep going. “I saw with my own eyes the excitement in the children’s eyes as they were being taught, and it made me realize that no matter where they live or what their parents do, kids want to learn,” says Lizzy. It was then she realized that educational activism, a movement that works to improve educational access for all children worldwide, was what she wanted to concentrate on.

“My time in China was so valuable as far as opening my eyes to the possibilities of advancing education in other rural areas, but I knew, to complete my studies, I would have to see other places,” says Lizzy. One of the countries on her wish list was Spain. “The reason I chose NYU Madrid for my junior year was to gain fluency in Spanish. I figured that by being fluent in three of the most widely spoken languages in the world, I could go wherever I was needed most.” Now in Buenos Aires, Lizzy is perfecting her Spanish. “My favorite part of being in Argentina is living with a host family and learning what they really value in life. Education is something that is held in high regard here, and it’s reaffirmed my commitment to improving educational opportunities in different parts of the world.”

Bo Donners ’18

Global China Studies Major

Study Away Site: NYU Berlin

An avid traveler and hiker, Bo Donners ‘18 shares her study away experience in Berlin, her internship in New York and her advice of waking up to be amazed where you are every single morning.

What Was Your ‘Global Experience’ Like Before Coming To NYU Shanghai?

I’m from The Netherlands, and I’m majoring in Global China Studies with plans to double major in Social Science. I’ve studied in Bosnia and Herzegovina, at UWC — a global NGO that aims to unite people, cultures and nations for sustainable development by education.

Besides studying abroad, I love to travel, hike and camp with my family in many different countries. I’ve hiked in Belgium, Italy, France, Germany, Czech Republic, Bosnia and Herzegovina, China, and also a mountain four hours away from New York City.

Why Did You Choose To Study Away In Berlin? What Was It Like?

It was really a choice between traveling somewhere I hadn’t been before–like Ghana or Buenos Aires–or advancing  towards my future. Berlin is a big, alternative center of Europe, a great hub for young people and especially for start-ups. It felt familiar to me; it’s not far from my home, and in fact after spending all of last semester there, I became pretty fluent in German, which is similar to Dutch, my mother tongue. Being back in Europe, I was able to reflect on what I’ve learned from my experiences abroad, and how they are applicable to my own  culture.

What Was The Best Thing About Studying Away?

Building connections with a professor who taught a social environmental movement class, and establishing the future possibility of working on projects with him and his company. In general, I value being in a new environment where you can meet and learn from people who have different backgrounds. Regardless if at first it seems irrelevant to your future plans, exposure to other cultures will only benefit how you work in an international environment. My advice is: be amazed every single morning.

And You Had An Internship In New York?

In New York I interned at The Partnership on Sustainable, Low Carbon Transport (SLoCaT) an NGO branch of the United Nations. The organization depended on my note-taking in conferences and I also wrote daily reports for them to  assist in how they could inform their partners about our progress and cause. I worked at  a climate change conference, did some lobbying, and found it exciting to see how people from multiple nations come together to work on international issues and develop policies.

Ma Teng (Martin) ‘18

IMA Major

Study Away Site: NYU Abu Dhabi

Driven by graphic design, IMA major Teng Ma (Martin) ‘18 used his study away semester at NYU Abu Dhabi to join the basketball team, introduce  a logo to the sheikh of Abu Dhabi, and contemplate how to open up design jobs in his northeast China hometown.

Why did you choose to study away at NYU Abu Dhabi?

I’m an IMA major who is passionate about technology, graphic design and basketball. The year before my study away, I had visited New York as an actor for the NYU Reality Show, and I wanted to explore Abu Dhabi to complete my travel among the three main global sites. I also had heard many good reviews about the design courses there from friends–plus, I couldn’t resist the fact that they had a state of the art indoor basketball court.

What was it like for you there?

I joined the basketball team–practice was rigorous and as early as 6:30am–I took up boxing and other fitness activities, and made a lot of friends with whom to explore the city. I loved the courses I took; a friend recommended a class called Yes Logo, taught by Goffredo Puccetti. In that course, we designed logos for WWF–the panda logo, as well as a logo for Italy and UAE’s 45 Years Celebration. My logo was picked in the top 3 of all the students’ individual designs. Professor Puccetti taught us through direct experience–from start to end, from brainstorming, using software and creating finished products.  We even presented our WWF logo to the sheikh, who was impressed.

Along with design, I took a painting course and a strategic management course out of pure interest. And I believe that studying across disciplines will inform how I approach graphic design in my future plans. Learning about how people succeed and what they do to reach their goals was eye opening for me.

One the best experiences was making new friends in Abu Dhabi who are now visiting me at NYU Shanghai while they study away here for a semester. It’s really cool that our adventures together will continue.

Where are you interning and what will you do in the future?

I am currently interning at Bigger Lab, an educational startup aimed at high schoolers in China and based in Puxi, Shanghai. I am helping them meet their various design and branding needs as well as create a new visual identity. After graduation I will probably work in Shanghai for a while. But, I’m keeping an eye out for opportunities in my hometown, Changchun in Jilin province.

My hometown is far from being a big city like Shanghai. Maybe right now people aren’t paying much money to focus on branding and development of logos, but I want to eventually return and empower people there with the experiences I’ve gained in Shanghai and abroad. I want provide opportunities for other people to learn about and understand brand consulting, especially how having design skills can benefit their endeavors.

NYU Steinhardt in Hong Kong: Forging Pathways to Sustainability

This spring, a graduate class from NYU Steinhardt traveled to Hong Kong to collaborate in visionary plans to protect Hong Kong’s ecological heritage. The class is taught by Prof. Raul Lejano, who integrates the international field studies workshop with his ongoing research on urban resilience in Asia.

Over two weeks in January, the students collaborated with nonprofits and others in Hong Kong to craft strategies for integrating the urban and the ecological. They were even joined by Dom Brewer, Dean of the Steinhardt School, for a day or trekking in the field.

The rest of the semester was then spent analyzing data and preparing deliverables which are then presented to stakeholders in Hong Kong for actual implementation. This year, students sorted themselves into four projects.

  1. Hoi Ha Nature Trail and Masterplan

    Map of Hoi Ha Nature Trail and Cultural Heritage Site

Maegan Ciolino, Yunshun Yang, Rachel Baruch

The group sought to create ways for local residents to cherish (and protect) the coastal wetlands and mangrove in Hoi Ha, an area in Sai Kung District, Hong Kong. To do this, they worked with Friends of Hoi Ha to design, stake out, and geo-reference a nature trail, complete with interpretive signs (map shown below). The project took a surprising turn when the group retraced an old, abandoned boulder trackway built by Hakka settlers almost two hundred years ago. They integrated the historical pathway into the new nature trail to provide the visitor an experience of history and ecology. Friends of Hoi Ha is working with the Environmental Minister to formally incorporate the nature trail into the nature master plan for Hoi Ha.

  1. Mangroves and Me: A Nature Lesson for Young Ecologists

RaeJean Boyd, Anna Hoch, Barbara Leary, Kym Mendez

Another group of graduate students worked with a local elementary school, Hong Kong Academy, to design and conduct a half-day nature lesson revolving around the ecology of Hoi Ha. Their vision for the learning experience was to integrate play and experiential, place-based learning to engage fifth graders in environmental action. Learning about mangrove and wetlands was integrated with hands-on activities, including kayaking, planting mangrove propagules, and identifying freshwater insects. Assessment revolved around interpretive drawings that the kids created to capture the day’s activities. The lesson is being formally integrated into the Academy’s curriculum.

NYU Steinhardt Students Conducting Nature Lesson for Fifth Graders of Hong Kong Academy

  1. Sustainable Housing for Pak Sha O

Fatima Ahmed, Zhe Huang, Danni Lu, Pamela Razo, Yiyi Shi

Traditional Hakka Village Housing in Pak Sha O

Pak Sha O is a traditional Hakka village in Sai Kung, Hong Kong, where the old village houses have been preserved by its current residents. The government has made plans to put in new housing in Pak Sha O. NYU students have written up a set of design recommendations for new housing in this ecologically and culturally important area. The specs include: adaptation of Hakka housing elements for the exterior, application of Feng Shui design concepts for the interior, wind turbines, and advanced septage treatment. An interesting facet of the design concerns the intersection of cultural and environmental elements –e.g., agreement between traditional Feng Shui concepts and newer sustainable design principles.

  1. Seafood Tourism and Coastal Heritage in Sai Kung

Xiao Huang, Alex McIe, Tommy V. Le

Sustainable Cities Class with Dean Brewer in Sai Kung

The area of Sai Kung is popular with tourists for its renowned seafood restaurant row. However, seafood tourism goes on seemingly disconnected with the rich heritage of Sai Kung as a fishing village. NYU students trace the cultural and cuisinary pathways that make up seafood tourism in the town. Their ethnographic study has led to recommendations for making the fishing culture and coastal ecology alive for visitors to the area. The guide includes a walking tour of Sai Kung and an ethnography of the local seafood industry.

The Transformative Power of Art and Ideas – Exhibition Inauguration at NYU Florence

On April 26, NYU Florence will celebrate the opening of a new exhibition, The Transformative Power of Art and Ideas. The exhibition includes fresco portraits by Fabrizio Ruggiero and projects by NYU Florence students: Angy Aguilar, Delaney Beem, Josefina Dumay Neder, Yuming Lu, Samantha Sofia Sneider, and Allegra Venturi. The exhibition will be in place from April 26 to June 18.

 The exhibition The Transformative Power of Art and Ideas pays homage to nine​ ​individuals​ ​who have​ ​worked for​ ​social justice, equality, and human dignity​ ​and have been recognized as thought leaders by the international community. The artist​ ​Fabrizio Ruggiero​ ​chose the pictorial language of fresco painting​ ​for the portraits, ​that​ he believes ​“forms the ideal medium to portray the human face”.

NYU Florence students worked​ ​with the artist throughout the semester ​​to understand​ ​his​ ​criteria​ ​for selecting ​subjects for his frescos and ​his artistic engagement with the public in a dialogue about the ideas his subjects represent. Students reflected on thought leaders in their own lives and the​ ​criteria they use to determine them.

The portraits were first exhibited in June 2015 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the signing of the Charter of the United Nations and the campaign “Time for Global Action”.

NYU Florence Student Qixiu Fu Writes on Viareggio Carnevale

Today we hear from Qixiu Fu, a first year student at NYU Florence. She is thinking about majoring in psychology and feels fortunate discovered Florence. So much so that she is considering returning for Fall 2017.

Photo credit – Jasmine Zhang, first year student at NYU Florence

Un Viaggio a Viareggio Carnevale

In two minutes, the sign up for Viareggio Carnevale was full. I was so excited that I got a spot on this free OSL (Office of Student Life) trip to Viareggio to visit one of the fascinating carnivals in Italy. The first Carnival of Viareggio took place in 1873 when there was a small parade of decorated carriages organized by the wealthy people of the city. Other local citizens were annoyed by their display of wealth, so they decided to wear masks to protest the high taxes they had to pay and to show disrespect toward the ruling upper classes.

For our trip, we took a private bus to Viareggio and enjoyed a guided tour about the history of carnevale and this year’s floats. The guide told us that today Viareggio Carnevale keeps its tradition of speaking out. Talented artists, local citizens and tourists are all part of this powerful “protest”. After we received our entrance tickets from the OSL staff, we followed our guide to the parade area where we learned about floats designed to imitate and poke fun at the world’s leaders, politicians, celebrities, and current events.

Photo credit – Jasmine Zhang, first year student at NYU Florence

This year, politics was in the spotlight. What amazed me the most was the dedication each team put into their choice of float design, choreographed dance, costumes, makeup, and music. Before visiting Viareggio, my impression of Italy was stereotyped to its good wine, delicious food and attitude of enjoying life. Then, I saw a different personality of Italy in Viareggio, the active and energetic one. Viareggio is a place where you can relax by the beach and enjoy the chilly breeze of early spring, but it is also a place where you can immerse yourself in the fantasy and surreal colors of carnevale!