This month, four NYU students — Geo Kamus, Diana Gluck, and Haley Smith from NYU Abu Dhabi and Alexandra Lenihan from NYU New York — launched Squares, an initiative designed to connect students from various universities across the UAE.
Inspired by the students' desire to break out of the NYUAD "bubble," Squares was first conceived during the University's Global Education Think Tank Competition in February, which aimed to find ways to integrate study-abroad students into the University community, thus forming connections between NYU New York and NYUAD students that would result in academically and socially meaningful study-abroad experiences.
Just as city squares are cultural centers where people share ideas and embrace community, the Squares team at NYU hopes to help university students create their own community spaces where they can exchange thoughts and build friendships. "By creating a program which connects you with students from various universities in the UAE, we hope that Squares bridges the gap that always seems to separate us from the rest of the student community. We hope that Squares will inspire students to be proactive in engaging with not only students from other universities, but any opportunities within their reach outside their comfort zone, if they take the initiative," said Kamus.
In just the first few weeks, Squares has received quite the response, with nearly a quarter of the sign-ups coming from those outside the NYUAD community. Upon joining Squares, individuals are teamed up with seven peers from different universities. Team members then contact each other through Facebook, Twitter, or email to set up a time to get together, perhaps for coffee at a local cafe, a movie at the cinema, or some fun at the beach.
"I hope that Squares will help university students in the UAE have more awareness of each other and their respective schools. While not everyone will find a new best friend in their square, I hope that everyone who participates will at least make one meaningful connection with another student from a school outside NYUAD and learn more about other schools and their unique situations in the process," said Gluck.