Zayed University (ZU) Students from the College of Arts and Creative Enterprises (CACE) have virtually shared their overseas visit to the Island of Oahu, which was part of an exchange meeting with students from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and presented their take on the new culture and craft workshops.
The experience combined learning about Hawaiian culture, heritage of the Pacific islands and exposure to new craft skills. Tours were also conducted and ranged from exploring the flora and fauna of the island to visiting galleries, museum and artist studios, including the Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture and Design.
Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Youth, President of Zayed University, attended the recently held presentation and highly appreciated this educational opportunity. “It extends their learning outcomes of global narratives and perspectives, and allows them as young Ambassadors of the UAE to contribute to sharing their national narrative and develop their own international network of peers.”
“It gave you the chance to observe the learning environment and ideas of peers abroad. It helped you connect to similarities in developments of arts as well as cultural rituals. Arts and Culture has been on top of the UAE Leadership’s priority list and is seen as a key platform for Cultural Diplomacy.,” said Al Kaabi.
She further added, “This program represents an example of Zayed University’s promise towards student‘s empowerment and knowledge exchange. We remain committed to supporting our students and helping them build the capabilities and reach new heights that will enable them to assume more leadership roles in the future.”
For his part, Dr. Kevin Badni, Dean of CACE, said: “Crafts, such as weaving, has been part of the Emirati culture since the beginning. For the students to see and learn the crafts of Hawaiians and bridge that indigenous knowledge with their own heritage is an important building tool in a continued appreciation and promotion through how they might incorporate it in the future.”
Curator Koan-Jeff Baysa, who has collaborated in the past in promoting our students work, invited ZU students to participate in the exhibition project “ARTINTIME” for the Hawaii State Art Museum to transform a compact tin box into a portable work of art. Students reflected with their peers in Oahu “words” representing their experiences to then create these portable works shipped back to Hawaii. They used this as a platform to transform and showcase the significance of their cultural exchange.
Sharing their experience, ZU students virtually presented to Noura Al Kaabi, and various faculty members from CACE and ZU, as well as virtual attendees, the various aspects of this study abroad trip. Sarah Abdulla, CACE student, said during the call: “The trip to Hawaii was a great opportunity. I was able to resonate with the importance and value of the environment. It made sense, just seeing the vastness of the ocean and how high the mountains were really showed how great mother nature can be.”
Deema Belhasa, another CACE student, said: “Being immersed in the culture, visiting historical places such as the Iolani Palace was truly an emotional and inspiring experience, the stories we’ve been told sounded too surreal.”
Khawla Ali: “This trip really changed the way I look at other cultures and it galvanized me as an artist. I am grateful I was chosen for this trip and for every person who was involved in making it happen. Mahalo!”
Aliyah Alawadhi, “witnessing the UofH students’ performance art critiques was exciting; I had never seen performance arts done outside of a professional, institutionally curated context and it was refreshing to see it being used as part of a class project.”