Starting May 21, senior students and their guests and families will participate in a set of activities as part of the Ma’a Salama program, NYU Abu Dhabi's first farewell week. Ma'a Salama, farewell in Arabic, is being organized by Special Assistant to the Dean of Students Jennifer Gerdes and Student Life Coordinator Alex Heald with the assistance of student volunteers, both seniors and underclassmen.
The four-day program will begin with an overnight senior class trip to a hotel, the location of which is a surprise. May 21 will involve a flashback dinner for seniors to reflect on the past four years. May 22 will feature an optional tour of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and a Welcome Event for the visitors. The program aims to assist students, along with their families and guests, in exploring Abu Dhabi and the traditions of NYUAD.
"Ma'a Salama 2014 features some exciting marquee events as well as a few opportunities for seniors and their guests to explore Abu Dhabi together, perhaps for the first time," wrote Gerdes and Heald to The Gazelle. "The Welcome Event officially welcomes the families and guests to Abu Dhabi and introduces them to one of our most beloved traditions, Open Mic Night."
On May 23 there will be a faculty formal with Provost Fabio Piano so that parents and guests can formally meet the faculty of NYUAD. The evening focuses on the academic achievements of the Class of 2014. Following the lunch, guests will be offered the option to either visit the Ibn Battuta Mall in Dubai or experience the desert Candidate Weekend-style. An optional brunch for the Class of 2014 and a commencement rehearsal are scheduled for May 24, the day before commencement. The guests will again be offered a chance to visit Dubai, Manarat Al Saadiyat or the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
Ma'a Salama will officially end with the Ma'a Salama colloquium. Speakers at the colloquium include former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Gordon Brown, NYU Professor of Philosophy Kwame Anthony Appiah and a panel of students from the Class of 2014. The student panel will discuss the global objectives of higher education. Finally Mariet Westermann, vice president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the former provost of NYUAD, will speak about the graduation of NYUAD's inaugural class.
Gerdes and Heald were of the opinion that the graduation of the inaugural class is a milestone in the history of the university. They consider Ma'a Salama an appropriate recognition of the achievements that the Class of 2014 has brought to NYUAD.
“This week allows seniors and the NYUAD community to reflect on the many components of the past four years: the academic rigor and achievements; the accomplishments that have taken place outside of the classroom; and the many relationships that have been built since the inception of this university," wrote Gerdes and Heald to The Gazelle. "The administration recognizes the importance of all of these moments, and Ma’a Salama gives us the opportunity to honor the individuals and events that contributed to this experience.”
They also mentioned that students and their guests should be on the lookout for the occasional throwback and surprise along the way.
"We have dug through the archives and found a lot of great mementos that date all the way back to freshman year. Beyond that, you will have to wait and see!" wrote Gerdes and Heald to The Gazelle.
The overnight trip and senior send-off brunch are open to seniors only; however, the rest of the programming is open to both seniors and their guests. These events are only open to students on a senior's RSVP list and not to those that hold lottery tickets to Commencement.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the start date for Ma'a Salama week. It also incorrectly stated that the optional brunch would be mandatory.
Khadeeja Farooqui is deputy features editor. Email her at email@example.com.