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Do you believe that in 15 years our world will be a more peaceful, sustainable and transformed place? A large group of students from around the UAE faced this question for World Peace Day, and the uncertainty in their responses is nothing short of alarming.

Every year on September 21, people around the world celebrate the United Nations International Peace Day providing an opportunity for individuals, organizations, and countries to reflect on the importance of peace. NYU Abu Dhabi’s first-ever Peace Day event united 63 students and 14 faculty/staff facilitators from five educational institutions to talk about global issues, particularly sustainable development, and ways to affect positive change toward a peaceful future.

Associate Director of NYUAD's Office of Community Outreach Suparna Mathur shared the vision for the event: “We have a moral imperative to examine how each of us can contribute toward this shared agenda for humanity. The UN's sustainable development goals are a roadmap for changing our world."

However, when students were asked, “How many of you deeply and honestly believe that in 15 years, by 2030, the world will be more peaceful, sustainable, and transformed?” not many arms shot up confidently.

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When faced with the many challenges our generation will have to resolve, it's really good to know that we are not alone. Peace Day showed a glimpse of this potential.

Joseph Chu, Class of 2017

Ours is the largest generation on the planet. This means that we exert the greatest influence over social norms, expectations, and behaviors. Studies show that we do in fact care about the world, reflected in our actions through spending and career choices. So why do we hesitate when asked about the future of our world?

Kate Melville-Rea, Class of 2018, remarked, "Sometimes I get so focused on particular issues that I forget the diversity of not only the problems we face but the opportunities to solve these problems. Peace Day widened my perspective."

UAE Students Ponder the Planet's Future
More than 60 UAE students gather at NYUAD for World Peace Day.

Participating schools for Peace Day at NYUAD included: Zayed University; Paris Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi; Higher Colleges of Technology; Abu Dhabi Men's and Women's Colleges; and the American Community School.

Written by Dana Al-Hosani and Ritu Muralidharan, Class of 2018