fyd update

Photograph courtesy of NYUAD First Year Programming

Changes to the FYD program

Learn more about the changes made to the First Year Dialogue, and find out how freshmen feel about their experience thus far.

Sep 25, 2016

The First Year Dialogue program at NYU Abu Dhabi is now in its third iteration, having undergone extensive changes reflecting the restructuring of its office.
Formerly known as the Office of First Year Programming, the Office of First Year Experience is now under the Office of Student Life.
“With our name change, we’re really looking at the holistic experience first year [students] have,” said Associate Director of the Office of First Year Experience Samantha Neugebauer.
FYD now has four components. The dialogue sessions are still the heart of the program, but they are supplemented by required workshops and assignments.
“I didn’t want the dialogue sessions to be weighed down by announcements,” said Neugebauer. “Instead, the dialogue sessions are a lot richer in content, and the workshops are more strictly transitional.”
There are now only eight dialogue sessions in the fall semester, unlike last year, when 11 sessions were held in a single semester.
Another component of FYD is the introduction of group bonding activities, which have been added in response to feedback received from students last year.
“They wanted more opportunities to do things together as a group, and I see how important that is, especially if they’re expected to be vulnerable and to share parts of themselves and share how they’re feeling,” explained Neugebauer.
Group activities began in Marhaba, giving students more opportunities to bond with one another.
“We clicked almost instantaneously,” said freshman Brian Kim. “As of now, some of my closest friends at NYUAD are from my FYD group … we have a WhatsApp [group] chat, and [we] often suggest to hang out on weekends and such.”
Freshman Jonah Joughin agreed with him, saying, “It’s great that FYD forces you to meet with and talk to people who you normally wouldn’t know.”
For the advisement component, students are now also required to have two one-on-one meetings with their facilitators, once in both the semesters. While there are 35 FYD groups this year, there are 48 facilitators, increasing the chances of freshmen forming closer connections with their facilitators.
“I think it’s comforting to know, as a freshman, that there’s an adult on campus who you can directly contact and talk to about anything,” said freshman Bernice Delos Reyes.
In addition, the Office of First Year Experience is piloting a student co-facilitator program that Neugebauer hopes will increase upperclassmen interest in the FYD program.
This year, some topics have been removed from the dialogue sessions, such as the RealAD show and AlcoholEdu.
“They’re important, but they’re, maybe, not the best fit for the new learning objectives of FYD,” explained Neugebauer.
The three learning objectives are now Support Systems, UAE Engagement and Common Humanity. The first is mostly covered in the workshops and assignments, freeing students to discuss the other two in the dialogues.
“A lot of what we’re trying to do during the dialogue sessions is to help students feel comfortable communicating with each other on a range of topics,” said Neugebauer.
For students like Kim, who find themselves among friends in their FYD sessions, the dialogues are more likely to be open and comfortable.
“I feel like here at NYUAD, we often feel pressured to represent our countries in a positive light,” commented Kim. “Sharing both the good and the bad of where we consider home, in my opinion, is much more enlightening.”
Rosy Tahan is a staff writer. Email her at feedback@thegazelle.org.
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