For the first time in the history of The Gazelle, our staff is spread all over the world, from Hong Kong to Abu Dhabi to New York. We will never have an in-person meeting with all of our editors and writers, let alone see the two Editor-in-Chiefs in the same room this year.
The entire foundation of our weekly production sessions
has been uprooted by the pandemic. The Saturdays of in-person production with over 25 people working in a classroom in the East Administration building feel long-gone, like a piece of institutional history that none of our younger staff, including myself, have experienced or can even imagine. Now, we have small in-person gatherings and multiple Zoom rooms where staff can circulate to try to recreate the camaraderie and cohesion of pre-pandemic productions.
Jumping into a new role that includes managing a publication with over 100 staff members when your partner and many other members in the editorial team are on an eight hour time difference makes the transition process exceedingly difficult. Even the task of finding a commonly free thirty minute slot on people’s Google Calendars has never been so troublesome. Time sensitive questions get lost among conflicting sleep schedules and decisions have to be made without every person’s input, making it feel like we’re working in shifts rather than as a united team.
It’s difficult to have trust in what we cannot see. Communication over Facebook messages and choppy Zoom calls don’t foster the face-to-face connection that we often need to feel like we’re on the same page. It’s isolating to feel like your team members are nothing more than profile pictures on a chat box or a fuzzy Zoom video. I even felt disconnected from Abhyudaya Tyagi,my fellow Editor in Chief, until very recently just because of the distance between us from New York to Abu Dhabi. But we’re learning to navigate that distance and operate as a team, even using the space to our advantage to give each other breaks and divide the work more efficiently.
The distance between all of our staff also allows for more diverse perspectives and more expansive coverage. We’re no longer reporting on just NYU Abu Dhabi or the city of Abu Dhabi, we’re reporting on New York City
, being stuck at home
and the highs
of studying abroad in the Global Network. We’re exploring collaborations with NYU New York’s daily student newspaper, Washington Square News, Yale NUS’s publication, The Octant and other international university publications.
We all have some ties to Abu Dhabi, regardless of whether we’re studying on campus this semester or not, and that’s what brings all of us together as we work for The Gazelle. We want to remind each other of that and create an environment where the physical distance between us doesn’t leave space for disconnectedness or discomfort. We want to work to create spaces where we can step away from the actual work for a moment and come together as a group of 20-something college students to set up important foundations for strong relationships within The Gazelle workspace and beyond. We hope that all of our current and future staff will help us in this process and let us know how we can support each other as the publication continues on this new journey.
In 2019, The Gazelle spoke with Amanda Randone
, Class of 2014 alumna from NYU New York and previous Editor-in-Chief of the Washington Square News. Randone was one of the two students responsible for the creation of The Gazelle at the Abu Dhabi campus, working with an NYUAD alumnus, Alistair Blacklock, Class of 2014, whom she met on his New York study away.
“I’m really grateful to the WSN team at the time who lent a hand [and gave us] their insight. We had several of them publish stories,” said Randone. “At the end of the day, we are all supposed to be a part of the same Global Network University serving the same purpose — having an independent student publication at NYUAD only further legitimizes the mission.”
The idea of being a part of the larger Global Network is one that was embedded in the very creation of this publication. Although it’s been taxing, we’ve started to see how that connection across campuses can be formed in a way that allows the publication and all of us as writers, illustrators, editors and, most importantly, as individuals to grow. And that connection across campuses is one of the few things that was positively impacted by the pandemic: we’ve learned how to expand our horizons and operate outside of the four walls of a classroom.
We’re so grateful for all the hard work our staff has put in this semester. We recognize that it’s been a difficult and, at times, scattered process, but we’ve seen how everyone has come together to produce stronger and stronger issues. We know that it’ll be a difficult transition in the spring semester when many of us currently in Abu Dhabi leave for our study away sites and many of those currently abroad return to NYUAD, but we look forward to the lessons that will be learned and the incredible work that will undoubtedly be produced in the future.
Grace Bechdol is Editor-in-Chief. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.