Illustration by Jam Moreno

Effective Altruists at NYUAD Bond and Do Good at Retreat

The Effective Altruism SIG organized its first retreat last month, bringing together the entire EA community at NYU Abu Dhabi to discuss questions about doing good and different ethical approaches to world problems.

Nov 13, 2021

From Oct. 22nd to 23rd, the Effective Altruism Student Interest Group at NYU Abu Dhabi organized a retreat at a hotel in Dubai. The EA community came together and discussed EA topics with some fun, games and food on the side. It was a fully-funded small outing for students who were a part of the Arete Fellowship to build community and discuss challenging ideas in an informal setting.
The Gazelle reached out to one of the organizers, Antonio Azevedo, Class of 2024, to learn more about the experience of the retreat. Azevedo felt that the retreat was a net positive experience: “Seeing how people engage with questions about rationality, principles of doing good, and even different ethical approaches to world problems was a huge learning experience for me too. Having late-night philosophical discussions with people that share a passion while enjoying vegan treats is excellent too, and EA NYUAD certainly learned a lot, logistics-wise, while organizing what was, to our knowledge, the first-ever EA retreat in the Middle East.”
On being asked about the highs and lows, or the peaks and valleys of the retreat, Azevedo shared the following: “I found it to be a huge privilege to hear people’s enthusiasm during small group discussions. These ranged from thinking about our passions to brainstorming career paths for solving world problems.”
“It was certainly hard to organize the venue and transportation on our own, considering this was an informal event and the first time our EA Chapter was doing this. Nevertheless, our community members’ energy was contagious and allowed the workshops and group activities to become memorable,” added Azevedo.
Azevedo acknowledged the role the retreat played in forming and strengthening the EA community at NYUAD. He viewed it as a platform for people with similar interests and beliefs about EA to come together and explore common projects and objectives and figure out together how to do the most good.”
“Forming an EA community is always an ongoing process for us, but we certainly feel like the retreat was a stepping stone in that sense. It provided a platform for students to not only engage with e-board members and members of their small Arete Fellowship cohorts — which they see every week — but to meet other EA NYUAD members and people with whom they have a lot in common,” said Azevedo.
Azevedo also added that something that could have been improved upon was the venue, as it ended up being too formal: “I would have personally preferred the venue to be less formal to provide more opportunities for community building in the little things (like cooking or stargazing). While it was valuable to stay at a comfortable place, there could have been even more bonding over, say, a camping experience, which would have been more immersive.”
Azevedo also shared some future plans for the SIG: “We certainly learned that events such as the retreat are breeding spaces for ideas and learning, and this is fundamentally what EA is all about. We are kickstarting the Middle East Regional Priorities Research on two subjects — Animal Welfare and AI Safety, as well as continuing our Arete Fellowship and developing the curriculum for in-depth opportunities next semester as well. EA NYUAD also started its first Animal Welfare Reading Group last week, and we’re continuing our book-borrowing program. Finally, we want to continue and expand informal social events! Opportunities like the retreat allow community members to get even more engaged and come up with new ideas for EA and for effective impact-driven projects, which is what we’re always aiming for,” highlighted Azevedo.
Like any other SIG, EA NYUAD is growing and developing, slowly paving the way for itself to make a significant impact on the community. With a successful retreat and its exciting future opportunities to come, EA NYUAD is forming a community of like minded people that wish to do the most good they can.
Vimal Karimbhai Minsariya is News Editor. Email him at
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