I remember the very first time I toured the academic building last year during freshmen orientation. I was introduced to the Career Development Center, the Health and Wellness Office and the ARC through each center’s introductory session. By now all the freshmen and sophomores have, at the very least, heard of these places, although some have probably not visited since their tour. Hopefully you will all at some point pay a visit to the Career Development Center and the Health and Wellness Office as these are both valuable resources at the school. However, I particularly encourage you to visit the ARC sooner rather than later.

What is the ARC exactly? The letters stand as an acronym for Academic Resource Center. Why would you want to spend time here? The first reason is to pay visits to our distinguished though accessible NYUSH staff members. You can find the Assistant Provost of Academic Affairs, John Robertson, with whom you can talk about anything Academic Affairs-related and of course there is Diane Geng, our incredible Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs. However, you might also simply want to go see a GAF.

GAF? Yes, another three letter abbreviation. GAF stands for Global Academic Fellow. I first met one of these GAFs my freshmen year on the way from the airport to the dorms. When he introduced himself I had absolutely no idea what a GAF was, but I quickly got to know most of them pretty well.

The GAFs are here to help you succeed in the various subjects and courses offered at NYU Shanghai. There are GAFs who specialize in writing, mathematics, physics, biology, chemistry, computer science, and business and finance. Besides their office hours, most GAFs sit in on lectures and participate in other university projects. Math and science GAFs also hold recitations and assist in grading. Meanwhile, writing GAFs provide consultation sessions during which they can help you with essays and answer questions you may have about a reading, article, or assignment.

Besides their academic duties, GAFs also take on an Institutional Enrichment Project (IEP). IEPs expose GAFs to different university departments and their functions through various projects which provide them with the opportunity to embrace the greatness of the NYU community from its core. For example, Daniel Cuesta, one of our amazing writing GAFs, did not only participate in connecting students to authors through a literary series, but also had the chance to live out his passion for photography by holding workshops and leading one of the arts programs called Photography Walks.

How and why does someone become a GAF after they graduate? Having already obtained a Bachelor’s degree, most of the GAFs applied because they were interested in learning, teaching, researching, and wanted to have the cross-cultural experience one can only get from working in a global academic environment.

Nishant Mohachandra, a second-year GAF at NYU Shanghai, walked me through his application experience. After graduating, the aspiring GAF had to first submit his application through a site called NYU IntraNET. He then went through multiple interviews to actually get the job. There are many more applicants sent in by aspiring writing GAFS than for any other subjects, which should come as no surprise since NYU Shanghai offers its unique GPS and POH courses both freshmen and sophomore years. GAFs often stay just one year and then go on to attend graduate school or work on other projects, but there are quite a few who stay for two or three years.

Besides NYU Shanghai, NYU Abu Dhabi also has a GAF program; however, it is a little different from the GAF program at NYU Shanghai. NYU Abu Dhabi has four categories of GAFs: writing GAFs; economic, political science, statistics and SRPP GAFs; art GAFs; and engineering GAFs. Writing GAFs support different writing and core courses. They are available for one-on-one and drop-by appointments. Economic, political science, statistics and SRPP GAFs take part in all three social sciences, facilitate in-class leadership, have office hours, and lead recitations. Art GAFs help students in different art fields, support different foundational courses, and participate in the organization and execution of art events. Engineering GAFs help out in foundational engineering courses by holding laboratory experiments, offering office hours for material review, and advising students on capstone projects in engineering. In contrast to the 2014-2015 academic year, this year there are no STEM GAFs on the board.  

Besides getting academic help, going to the ARC and just talking to the GAFs can be very fun. Even though they are employed to help you study, answer your questions, and guide you through the challenges of the year, they also happen to be human beings who just might share similar interests with you. Whether you want a study session or simply to hang out and chat with our brilliant and interesting GAFs, it is always worthwhile to stop by the ARC.

This article was written by Diem Hang Pham. Send an email to managing@oncenturyavenue.com to get in touch.
Photo Credit: NYU Shanghai Staff

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