By Emmy Yacoub
UNIVERSITY CITY, SHARJAH – American University of Sharjah students are working with the university’s Community Service and Outreach Office to help disadvantaged individuals.
Some of the charitable organizations they collaborate with include Emirates Red Crescent, Emirates Association of the Visually Impaired, and Al Thiqah Club for Handicapped.
Community Service and Outreach Coordinator Amawi El Khalifa said they held an event with the Emirates Red Crescent where students distributed water bottles, biscuits and juices to workers on campus on Sept. 6 from 9:15-9:40 a.m. She added that it provided participants an opportunity to give back to others and appreciate the work they do.
“We are humans at the end of the day. It’s not you are X and I’m Y,” El Khalifa said. “We are all the same.”
Emirates Association of the Visually Impaired
The Community Service and Outreach Office organized a Dark Café event in collaboration with Emirates Association of the Visually Impaired that was open to students, faculty and staff members. The purpose of this was to reverse roles by having association members guide participants around a blackout room, El Khalifa explained. It was held in the Main Building on Sept. 13 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
English Department Senior Instructor Sana Sayed said that attending the event made her reflect on her position and privilege as a person who can see and takes her “vision for granted on a daily basis.” Her other senses are heightened when she can’t use her sight and had to rely on touch as well as the speaker’s voice to figure out her surroundings, Sayed said.
“I was able to step out of my comfort zone and understand the position of others who are vastly different from me,” she said, adding that she is glad she participated because the experience was “practical and real.”
Al Thiqah Club
Students also have an opportunity to give back to the community by helping Al Thiqah Club members learn English and basic computer skills during weekly one-hour sessions on Mondays and Thursdays, El Khalifa said. She added participants are supposed to share “minimal needs of knowledge” such as how to create an Excel sheet or a Word document.
El Khalifa said the Community Service and Outreach Office has been doing this every semester since 2016, excluding the COVID-19 period.
According to Miryana Baghdadi, industrial engineering major and leader of tutoring English at Al Thiqah Club, participating in such events has allowed her to connect with others and witness their impact on those in need.
“It’s fulfilling to know that I’ve been able to make a difference and contribute to causes that matter to me,” she said.
Baghdadi added she repeatedly found herself working in teams and having to rapidly adapt to change of plans from a collaborator or unusual situations. This taught her the importance of teamwork and problem-solving skills, she said.
“I even got to learn more about myself and my capabilities as an individual in society who is fortunate enough to be able to give back,” Baghdadi said.