Today's Students Are Tomorrow's Hope

Illustration of students in a classroom, for the NYU Global TIES research project.

“It was such a positive experience knowing I could have an impact"

When NYU Abu Dhabi senior Mai Awamleh first started her social science research experience with NYU’s Global TIES for Children international research center, she never imagined becoming so immersed and affected by the field of international comparative education.

“I got to express my passion and develop my senior Capstone project following my work with Global TIES. If it were not for that, I would not have known to pursue my studies in this field and how much I can contribute to it," she says.

Founded in 2015, NYU Global TIES for Children is dedicated to designing, evaluating, and advising on programs and policies that improve the lives of children and youth in the most vulnerable regions across the globe.

Currently, Global TIES is working on a multi-year research initiative called Education in Emergencies: Evidence for Action (3EA), aimed at improving the quality of education and children’s learning in crisis-affected countries. NYU Abu Dhabi students are offered extraordinary opportunities to work alongside researchers, and are encouraged to use the experience for their own Capstone research.

Awamleh joined Global TIES for a regional learning and development workshop in Jordan where she helped build “teamwork activities and development strategies for early grade reading” and worked with people from several leading international organizations.

Illustration of refugee students in a makeshift classroom, for the NYU Global TIES research project.

I felt my input was valued and that was special.

Firas Ashraf, NYUAD student researcher, Class of 2019

Jude Al Sharif, in her junior year at NYU Abu Dhabi, didn’t hesitate to get involved when she first heard about Global TIES and its mission. In Jordan, she also worked closely with senior scholars and developed her own research skills by collecting and managing student identifications, among other tasks.

She says the experience was challenging at times and came with a steep learning curve but “the most important thing I learned is to never be afraid to ask questions.”

“What I liked about Global TIES was that it made me understand the impact of data,” added Firas Ashraf, a senior who says curiosity and a passion for numbers led him to participate in the research. “It’s not just collecting information about a tangent of students, for instance. It was the first time ... I realized the importance of tracking children in conflict countries.”

“It was such a positive experience knowing I can have an impact,” he recalled. “I felt my input was valued, and that was special.”

Ashraf’s Capstone project uses Global TIES data to assess the mental health rates of teachers working with refugees in Lebanon. He hopes his work will “inspire more students to take the plunge, and do research.”

Ashraf, Al Sharif, and Awamleh are all majoring in social research and public policy at NYU Abu Dhabi.