WAbu Dhabi: Now More a Prophecy than a Pun

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

Following former President Al Bloom and several deans’ move to New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD), the Writing Center printed t-shirts rebranding the Writing Center “Wabu Dhabi.” What started as a joke is now coming true for some former Writing Associates (WAs) in the form of job offers from NYUAD.

WA Ankhi Thakurta ’12 said the campus is recruiting from a number of colleges and universities around the world, including Swarthmore. Thakurta, alumnus Will Treece ’11, and The Daily Gazette’s Co-Executive Editor Sahiba Gill ‘12 are confirmed to join the NYUAD staff.

Swarthmore Writing Center Director Jill Gladstein said NYUAD recruiters first contacted her through an email requesting that she inform her WAs about their job opportunities in fall 2010. In spring 2011, former Assistant Director of Student Life and Academic Advisor Kelly Wilcox visited Swarthmore with NYUAD Writing Center Director Heidi Stalla to recruit potential staff members.

In the past, a handful of the Swarthmore administration joined the developing NYUAD staff. The first to transfer was former President Al Bloom, who became Abu Dhabi’s Vice Chancellor in 2009. In January 2010, Wilcox and Tim Sams, former Assistant Dean and Director of the Black Cultural Center, departed for NYUAD. Wilcox became the associate dean for student learning resources and Sams became the associate dean for students.The addition of its new staff members continues this recent trend of Swarthmore migrating to NYUAD.

“I am excited to work at a new university that is still getting its feet off the ground,” said Treece, regarding his decision. Treece taught for a year after graduation and was also a former editor for The Daily Gazette. He is looking forward to progress his teaching by working in a new, unfamiliar environment. In addition, he would like to be a part of NYUAD’s development as an established learning center.

“I will basically be a WA,” said Treece describing his job. Treece will become a writing fellow whose responsibility is to tutor students’ writing in their Intro to Academic Learning course. In addition, he will also serve as a teacher’s assistant.

Thakurta, who will be a global academic fellow, also describes her job to be like that of a WA. Like Treece, she will extensively tutor student writing, but will also tutor in more than just one subject. She will be teaching English and Sociology/Anthropology, her majors at Swarthmore, alongside other professors. “I was thrilled to find an opportunity to work with students from a great variety of backgrounds,” said Thakurta.

The job of an NYUAD fellow is not completely similar to a WA at Swarthmore. “We are looking to develop a relationship that is more than what a WA conference at Swarthmore offers,” said Treece. Because English proficiency skills would have greater variety overseas than at Swarthmore, both Treece and Thakurta believe more involvement will be necessary in the writing process.

“It is also very important to be fluent in the culture of your environment,” said Thakurta. This is so that fellows can most effectively make use of the diverse experiences and backgrounds of the class while developing their language skills. As a WA, Thakurta took a course on writing pedagogy at Swarthmore, which she said has given her an understanding of the various writing and English backgrounds of students.

NYUAD recruits will be trained for their positions this August in New York. Training will consist of an orientation, classes, and various workshops certifying them as staff members.

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