在上海纽约大学的工作生涯中,我见证了许多动人的时刻。上学年,在Anjuli Pandavar的最后一节学术英语课上,我观看学生们用1分钟微电影展示他们探索上海后产生的感悟。这些学生完全自由地选择想要呈现的内容,我看到他们通过一个学期的课程取得了多么大的进步。绝大部分学生成长在一个以遵从为主的严格的教育体制下,面对这样一个自由任务时,我想他们能够意识到带着自己的思想去工作可以收获更多。看完视频后,Anjuli把她的私人藏书送给学生们,以奖励他们在一学期中所取得的进步。获赠的学生中有一位女生,她曾经非常害羞,课程对于她,挑战极大,但是到了学期末,她通过自己的努力,克服最初的障碍,赢得了大家的赞赏。Anjuli赠予她一本自己寻遍多国才觅得的珍藏版诗集,鼓励她坚持写作。在那充满欢乐和温暖的时刻,我和老师以及学生们一同欢笑,泪水不知不觉涌出眼眶。身处这样的一所大学,我感到无比幸福,学生和老师在课堂上交换彼此心灵深处的瑰宝,教育不就应该是这样的吗?我很难用言语来形容在那堂课上所见到的真诚与连接,但这已然成为我难以忘怀的时刻。

I’ve witnessed many touching moments in my time here. During the closing session for Anjuli Pandavar’s English for Academic Purposes class, I watched students presenting one minute films about their insights after exploring Shanghai. These students were given free rein over their content, and I could see how far they had come over the semesters. They had been brought up in a rigorous education system where obedience was primary, but when they were given such an assignment, I think they realised how much they could achieve with their own will power. After they watched the videos, Anjuli gave the students books from her private collection as awards from progress and improvement throughout the semester. One of the girls who received a book used to be very shy, and had difficulty participating in class, but at the semester’s end, she was awarded for her efforts to overcome her initial obstacles. Anjuli gave her a rare book of poetry that she had searched for across many countries as a token of encouragement for the student to continue writing. In that moment of joy and warmth, I laughed with the students and teacher, and unbeknownst to myself, tears sprang to my eyes. I was so happy to be a part of a university where teachers and students exchange pieces of themselves in class. This is what education should be. It’s hard for me to find the words to describe that moment of genuine connection I witnessed in that class, but it was one of my most unforgettable moments here.
— Tannia Xia, Deputy Director, Public Affairs Dept., NYU Shanghai. Contact: Yifei Wu, Communication Specialist, yw32@nyu.edu
 
The most interesting person at NYU Shanghai.
— Queer & Ally Society
 
 

Unsolicited testimonial from a student

In Spring 2011, I was an engineering student enrolled in the Academic Listening class level 2, and the teacher spent two sessions just walking us through a six-page syllabus, which looked exactly like the Academic Listening level 1 syllabus (except that the books were different). I decided to drop the class and enrol in another section. The enrolment lady said to me “there is a section in the afternoon, but it is a new teacher and I don’t know how she is with students.” I remember thinking “she can’t be worse or slower than the professor I have.” I enrolled in her class and it was the best decision I took that year.
I met Anjuli Pandavar, and I had the privilege to be in one of the best classes I have taken in AUI. The lectures, the exercises and discussions we had were all eye-opening. She generously gave us the best advice, and she helped me overcome my frustration with writing in English. Further, thanks to her valuable lessons in public speaking, we almost won [see note, AP] a public debate on the highly contentious subject of polygamy, in which we had to take a pro-polygamy stance.
I was enlightened by every remark or commentary she made, and sometimes she did not even need to talk. Her gestures revealed kindness, professionalism, and a deep understanding of society as a whole. Her mere presence was enough. Many of our discussion were revealing on many levels, especially about the men in Moroccan society. My class was mostly males, and we were only two girls. She would spend hours lecturing us about communication and relationships between men and women and how gender roles are socially constructed. The guys in the class, would still stubbornly and confidently argue against her point saying that women are “naturally weak” because that’s how God made them. Incapable of comprehending the significance of what she was trying to explain to us, all they could do was to be angrily antagonistic to her reasoning. She would still receive their comments and smoothly address them pushing us to further think of our perceptions of the matter and making me admire her skillful teaching even more.
These discussions made me angry too because I was raised and surrounded with strong women my whole life. Women who have endured all kinds of hardship, mostly caused by men, and still reached high levels of success independently from the “support” of men. I remember smiling and thinking “this society is not ready for tough women like you, Anjuli”. Interestingly, when I looked at the other girl in the class, she had the exact same smile. The class was a miniature Arab patriarchal society where people are angry towards and unwilling to assimilate anything that is different from the old and obsolete mainstream ideas they have, specifically when women suggest it.
Being in Anjuli’s class helped me develop not only as a student, but also as a human being. I asked her once on her background, and she said it was in political economy. Her amazing grasp of history and politics made me realize that it was exactly the kind of studies I want to do. As smart as making software made me look, I was clueless about the dynamics and laws that govern society in general. I figured the social sciences can help me answer the endless questions I have about the world. I switched major to international relations, and it was the second best decision I took in the following two years.
Thank you Anjuli.
Rajae Oujlakh, Meknes, Morocco.

Note: Actually, Rajae was the lead debater and we did win the debate. But that’s another story, AP.

Received October 2015.