While some of their peers used a recent weekend to catch up on sleep or homework, a group of 26 NYU Abu Dhabi students and three staff members braved the heat and humidity to help clean up one of the capital's most beautiful natural resources, the coastal mangrove forests. These forests provide a safe home and breeding ground for a variety of animal species, as well as preserve the environmental integrity of a developing city, yet they are often mistreated and at risk. "The land around the mangroves is open for public use," said staff volunteer Jenn Shaffer. "People will come with their families and have picnics on Fridays, and we came afterwards to pick up everything they left behind."
Divided into three teams, the NYUAD group competed with one another, as well as with teams from Sharjah-based company Crescent Enterprises, to see who could collect the most trash in one afternoon. The event is a monthly competition coordinated by Green Abu Dhabi. Despite the steamy weather conditions, the teams had fun battling it out as they collected garbage ranging from standard grocery bags to tractor trailer tires. "A few girls and I found an abandoned cable wheel, weighing in at 130 kilograms," said NYUAD sophomore Veronica Houk. "The competition motivated us to collect the heaviest trash."
Ultimately, the event allowed the teams to bond while giving back to their host community. "The best part is knowing we did something nice for Abu Dhabi," said Shaffer, who was part of the winning team (pictured above) with its collection of 300 kilograms of garbage. In all, the teams removed a whopping 1,100 kilograms of trash.
With future opportunities available through Green Abu Dhabi, Houk envisions more great work taking place in this important environment. "I would definitely encourage students to participate," she said.