In an effort to bridge the gap between students from different ethnic and religious backgrounds, TEDxNYUAD held its first conference Sunday. Students were encouraged to incorporate issues from their home countries in their presentations, which were screened for New York campus students on Monday at NYU’s NYC Abu Dhabi building.
In their presentations, speakers addressed conventional stereotypes existing in their home countries. Through their speeches, students tried to provide resolutions to crucial questions, such as how to combat political corruption or how to challenge biases toward Muslim women.
NYUAD freshman and speaker Amer Nasr shared his experience with creating a movement against political corruption in Brazil. He said the inherent inequality within the country must be fought by students, who will be the next generation to lead Brazil.
“Students have the potential to change the world by raising their voices,” Nasr said. “It starts with a voice to embrace solidarity. If more people decided to take action, then less people would be hesitant in doing so.”
Hayat Seid, NYUAD speaker and co-founder of PenAfrica, an organization that shares stories from underrepresented African women, said storytelling can encourage people to overlook biases placed on African women.
“We want to present stories that aren’t centered on poverty or disease, and instead focus on the beauty that lies within Africa,” Seid said. “This will help us facilitate a conversation that places all women on equal ground.”
CAS junior Padema Rhea, who attended the screening at the NYU New York campus, said the presentations created a strong impression on her and changed how she thought about international disputes.
“These students are working toward eliminating the injustice that plagues today’s society,” Rhea said. “We should not be defined by stereotypical labels. We need to be more aware of how we see and interact with one another.”
In her presentation, NYUAD speaker Maitha al Memari focused on liberating and unifying Muslim women who wore abayas, traditional cloaks worn to cover the body that promotes modesty. Memari spoke about challenging the stereotypes surrounding wearing the religious garment and how to overcome these biases.
“Wearing an abaya is not an act of oppression as many assume,” Memari said. “They are a combination of self expression, and they represent one’s individuality.”
TEDxNYU chief of staff Lillian Leung, a Stern sophomore, said holding conferences with students from NYU global sites allows for different viewpoints to be included in the conversation.
“Through TEDxNYUAD, we are able to connect with students beyond the Washington Square campus and recognize this diverse community where we see people from all across different backgrounds,” Leung said. “These conferences encourage global collaboration and allow us to look at issues from a variety of angles.”
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, April 21 print edition. Email Lexi Faunce at [email protected]