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Illustration by Mariam Diab.

Thanksgiving Donations Initiative: NYUAD Students and Abu Dhabi Korean Church Collaborate To Distribute Food

Embodying the spirit of Thanksgiving, NYUAD students and the Korean Church of Abu Dhabi brought together people, from students to professors, with the simple intention of helping others in a donation drive for migrant workers.

Nov 28, 2021

On Nov. 19, students from NYU Abu Dhabi made north of 5000 AED worth of donations, primarily in the form of food, to those in need. Hyunbae Kim, Class of 2025, led the recent Thanksgiving food donations initiative at NYUAD under the guidance of the Korean Church. Referring to the Bible, Kim shared:
“Jesus gave both His hands to the nails. How can I keep back one of mine from His blessed work?” noting the motivation behind his work.
Kim’s idea for starting the food donations initiative comes from a long history of giving thanks around Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is traditionally a North American holiday; however, a lot of people around the world use it as a day they reflect on the things that they are thankful for, one of which invariably being material wellbeing. When the Korean Church started asking for food donations from its constituents, Kim asked himself, “We, the students, have campus dirhams that expire at the end of the semester. And I know some people have some left, so why don't I tell people about this?”
After having eaten lunch or dinner, Kim would go and talk to those at East Dining Hall or Marketplace, including professors and postgraduates. Over the course of his odyssey, he spoke to over 500 people, made posts about the initiative across the internet ranging from Room of Requirement, NYUAD’s university Facebook group for frequently asked questions, to certain WhatsApp group chats such as the Class of 2025 group chat. He also convinced the Student Government to include his initiative in their weekly newsletter.
The Korean Church decided to raise food and other necessities for the migrant population working in the UAE. Given the conditions migrant workers often face, one of the most benevolent things to do was to supply them with at least the necessities such as food, water and all sorts of utensils as it alleviates the general hardship they face on a daily basis, at least to some degree.
Being in charge of the food donations initiative has provided Kim with valuable experience. “I'm very grateful. I learned a lot from this experience. Also, I used to be a little bit of an introvert, and I think it was helpful to meet people and talk to them face to face. I also like how supportive the community has been,” Kim noted. “It was great doing meaningful work that I know is going to help lives and glorify God. And part of being a Christian is just serving the God who, you know, gives you so much, and it's just very, very awesome.”
This adventure has also given Kim even more drive and energy to do similar initiatives in the future as he is planning on being a part of a similar endeavor during the Christmas holidays.
The initiative was also a great experience for students as Kim shared. “A lot of people were really excited about this initiative. They were very grateful for an opportunity to use their campus dirhams… for good.”
It was also a great way for students to reflect on their privilege. However, most importantly, it has brought together a lot of people, from students to professors, with the simple intention of helping others. This is what Thanksgiving is all about.
Luka Salkovic is a Staff Writer. Email him at
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