Photo courtesy of Charlotte Wang

NYUAD student named Truman Scholar

Photo courtesy of Charlotte Wang In the Xindian District of Taipei, junior Alexander Wang first learned about a program wherein domestic abuse victims ...

Apr 27, 2013

Photo courtesy of Charlotte Wang
In the Xindian District of Taipei, junior Alexander Wang first learned about a program wherein domestic abuse victims would craft glass beads to relieve the psychic pain of abuse. Learning about this fortified Wang’s penchant for civic engagement. Wang’s unwavering commitment to expanding the scope of grassroots volunteerism in the developing emirate of Abu Dhabi, combined with his interest in global migration, landed him the honor of being named a 2013 Truman Scholar — an honor received by a mere 62 Americans nationwide this year.
Wang, a Social Research and Public Policy major specializing in Urbanization, was awarded the prestigious scholarship after a rigorous merit-based review process. He was one of four candidates selected by NYU, among a larger pool of 629 candidates nominated by 293 colleges and universities. Wang is NYU’s third Truman Scholar since 2007 and the first from NYU Abu Dhabi.
Wang’s public policy proposal on international migration was an integral part of the application. Despite the rise of global nomads and international mobility — movement between international spaces and nation states — Wang argued that there is a lack of institutional structures designed to treat people who are circulating as unique political subjects: migrant workers. Wang’s policy proposal focused on creating a framework to provide institutional support in the arena of public health for international migrant workers.
Wang said, “This transitory population [of migrant workers] has enormous import and cannot be understood through existing notions of citizenship and statehood. Its members are mobile, caught in transit between the spaces of national and international jurisdiction.”
Skilled and unskilled international migrants, according to Wang, “share and experience poor policy-making that misunderstand a tension between one’s place of citizenship and place of work. My goal is to create durable, innovative institutions that can advocate for migrants caught in the tenuous spaces between nation states.”
Inspired by the idea of the GNU, Wang’s proposal is oriented towards the creation of a transnational fund sustained by the additional revenue gained from visa fees for skilled and unskilled workers. The fund would coerce research on health interventions that would later culminate in the creation of an extensive network of global health providers. Wang’s concept of a transnational organization upheld by the organization of a global polity incites a paradigm shift in public health and the treatment of international migrant workers.
A commitment to cosmopolitanism drives Wang’s scholarship and humanitarian work. Born into a family of Taiwanese immigrants, cosmopolitanism and international migration are deeply imbued in his psyche. Growing up in what he described as a small town of cornfields and occupied predominantly by caucasians and llamas, Wang identifies NYUAD Candidate Weekend as one of the most transformative experiences of his life. Impassioned spiels and conversations about enchanting literature to politics with students from around the globe resonated with Wang. Cross-cultural exchange and international mobility spurs the advent of empathy, which to Wang enables “the possibility of putting [his] narrative frameworks in conversation with others from varied social contexts, to cooperate with an international community.”
A recipient of NYU President’s Service Award, Wang has already begun to explore his interest in international migration through founding a humanitarian group which has left an indelible mark on the NYUAD, as well as the larger Abu Dhabi community. Wang research interests at NYUAD revolve around gulf migrations and he has researched for Princeton University and Columbia University. Co-authoring a paper featured in the Turkish Review and founding the New York University Abu Dhabi Journal of Social Sciences are emblems of Wang’s academic and intellectual achievements, which will continue to broaden the frontiers of knowledge.
Wang plans to pursue a joint J.D and PH. D program post-graduation. Set on working with global migration policy, Wang is irresolute on the sector for which he will channel this commitment to public service. He does, however, intend to ensure that his career meets at the intersection of academia and advocacy, as he will be forever unable to separate himself from the part of his psyche that thrives on the intermingling of intellectualism and humanitarian work.
Wang will continue to challenge the precepts of civic duties specifically within the confines of international migration workers. He hopes his work and future endeavors will be showcased on the global stage — giving rise to the emergence of a global polity and a renewed impetus for meaningful social change. Winning the Truman Scholarship is only the beginning.
Julia Saubier is deputy features editor. Email her at
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