NYU greets Little Amal

Little Amal, a puppet of a 10-year-old Syrian refugee, visited NYU on Sept. 28.

Aria Young, Alisha Goel and Edward Franco

Aria Young and Alisha Goel

Little Amal, a 10-year-old Syrian refugee, walked around New York City. With her new friend, Little Amal walked through the streets of the East Village to Washington Square Park looking for shelter. This event was an installation created by NYU and the La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club.

Little Amal Walks NYC was a co-production between The Walk Productions and St. Ann’s Warehouse in association with Handspring Puppet Company. Between September 14 to October 2, Amal was welcomed at 55 events across the five boroughs of New York City.

This video transcript has been edited for length and clarity.

This is Little Amal. A giant puppet of a 10-year-old Syrian girl whose name means “hope” in Arabic. This is Little Amal’s first time visiting New York. Here at Washington Square Park, local residents and NYU students are giving her the warmest welcome. Little Amal arrived in New York City on Sept. 14. Since last year, the puppet has visited 12 countries in Europe before coming to the U.S. She is the heart of The Walk Productions, an international team of artists and producers that want to give the refugee crisis a face and a name.

“The message of Little Amal is really acceptance and love and that we can all come together, especially across differences, especially for children, especially for the youth,” said Maddie Boudov, a sophomore at NYU. “Amal is a young Syrian refugee, and her exploration of the city is really just representative of how everyone comes to this city to explore, to meet new people and to come together. Amal represents that coming-togetherness of New York and of people from all over, especially through our youth.”

Little Amal is partnering with La Mama Experimental Theatre Club to put on a processional performance in the Village. Along the way, she plays, dances and goes on a journey with an Indigenous girl to find a home. Many NYU students are involved in this production.

“Me and a handful of other students from the experimental theater wing helped by helping with lighting for the event,” Boudov said. “So since this one was happening at night, unlike most of the other little Amal walks, we needed to make sure that people could see them. So we held flashlights and made sure that the young girl that Amal became friends with was lit the entire time. So we kind of ran around making sure she was lit and making sure everyone could see her.”

“The community building is very unique — how everyone just came together to welcome Amal, and Amal is the symbol for so many people and NYU being such a diverse university,” said Santiage Casares, a sophomore at NYU. “I think that’s a message that we really need to empower — how we are all different and come from different places. But we can definitely build community from those differences. And also make sure that everyone is taken care of and welcomed.”

After attending dozens of events in all five boroughs of New York City, Amal’s stay in the city ended on Sunday, Oct. 2. Though the puppet girl said goodbye, her walk has touched the hearts in New York City and here at NYU.

Contact Aria Young and Alisha Goel at [email protected].