On Saturday Nov. 10, the NYU Abu Dhabi West Forum hosted the Women’s Leadership Network’s hallmark conference titled WeForShe: Gender Equity and Equality in 2018. The conference consisted of various distinguished speakers and four distinct roundtable discussions in which students had the chance to explore issues related to feminism with staff and faculty.
The speakers present at the conference included Ken Nielsen, Director of the NYUAD Writing Center and Associate Director of the Writing Program, Fawzia Afzal-Khan, Former Director of Women’s and Gender Studies at Montclair State University and Visiting Professor of the Arts at NYUAD and independent filmmaker and Associate Professor of Practice at NYUAD, Surabhi Sharma. The three presenters spoke about male feminism and the complexities of allyship, transnational and intersectional feminism and the #MeToo movement in South-East Asia, respectively.
Following the presentations, attendees had the chance to join one of four roundtable discussions on the themes Toxic Masculinity, Women in TV & Film, Feminism & LGBTQ+ and Feminism in a Muslim Society. The event also included a panel discussion with faculty and staff, and various prizes were given away to those attending.
“I think it was really successful because the layout of it was very interactive,” said Women’s Leadership Network Student Interest Group Officer Awahnee Mendis, Class of 2021. “They had this new thing which was called the unconference session … where everyone sat and discussed with a facilitator. There were three speakers … they each talked about very different things and you could tell that all three of them were very passionate about those things. The atmosphere was really nice because everybody seemed to be interested.”
Faculty Reading Series: Miguel Syjuco
On Thursday Nov. 6, the NYUAD Reading Room was filled with students and faculty eager to listen to Miguel Syjuco, NYUAD Professor of Creative Writing and journalist and author contributing to publications like The New York Times. Syjuco read the first chapter from his second novel, I Was The President’s Mistress!!, which a sequel to his award-winning novel, Ilustrado.
The reading began with an introduction of Syjuco by Ria Golovakova, Class of 2020. The professor then spoke about his current work, from opinion pieces to activism that promotes state democracy in his home country of the Philippines. His new novel delves further into the fictional character of Vita Nova — the mistress of President Ferdinand Estregan — who was a minor character in his first book. At the end of the reading, the audience was able to ask questions about the novel, allowing Syjuco to explain his writing process further.
“Attendants were all there out of love and interest for literature and writing, to support their professor or colleague and/or for free pizza,” said Nada Hatem, Class of 2021, who attended the reading. “It was a wonderful atmosphere, filled with empathy, vulnerability and light humor. Ria’s introduction was incredibly well done and immersive, as she gave an in-depth understanding of the history of the Philippines for listeners, allowing them to better appreciate the reading. Professor Syjuco’s reading drew you in. As a front-seater, seeing him fully embrace the text and read his work … I was grateful for the experience and am looking forward to future readings.”
Tracy Vavrova is News Editor. Email her at email@example.com.