Francesca Antonone

Francesca Antonone, NYUAD Class of 2024 with a member of the dining team, Rosita.

“Good morning, baby girl,” Rosita would always greet me as I entered D2. Amidst laughter and challenges, the staff at NYU Abu Dhabi have consistently made me feel at home. Their warm greetings each morning, engaging chats between classes, and constant words of encouragement have filled our hearts and eased our homesickness. Despite them perhaps missing their own homes even more, as they only return occasionally, they have always treated us like family - like their own sons and daughters.

NYUAD is home to over 800 contracted staff from 36 different countries, each contributing uniquely to the fabric of our institution. They serve tirelessly across various roles – public security and cafeteria staff to facilities management and janitorial staff. They do more than just ensure the smooth operation of our campus and our safety; they bring a sense of familial warmth, making our university more than just a place of learning. It is their smiles, stories, and dedication that transform our campus into a vibrant, multicultural community.

Working with the Office of Social Responsibility (OSR) at NYUAD has allowed me to forge strong bonds with our contracted colleagues through genuine interactions. My involvement in the OSR's year-long programming initiatives went beyond just organizational tasks, as it became a journey of understanding the individual stories and backgrounds of the staff. Hearing about their lives, their families, and the paths that led them to the UAE, I witnessed the pride and joy they take in their work and also shared moments of laughter and empathy that transcended our different roles. 

My journey at NYUAD has been enriched immeasurably by the presence of these extraordinary individuals. Their stories, laughter, and care have been integral to my daily life. As I move forward, I carry with me not only the knowledge gained in classrooms but also the life lessons learned from these extraordinary people. To all our contracted colleagues – I am incredibly grateful to you all. You have touched my life in ways you may never fully realize, and for that, I am eternally thankful.