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AUS students renovate Sharjah school as part of community services initiative
More than 200 students from American University of Sharjah (AUS) took part in the renovation of a Sharjah school as part of the university’s Hand-in-Hand community services initiative.
The rehabilitation work of the courtyard and computer lab of National Charity School took place September 16–30, ending with a very emotional handover ceremony. AUS also donated 40 computers, 85 tables and chairs, four large tables, nine blackboards, 30 steel lockers and a carpet for the computer lab. Launched in 2010, the Hand-in-Hand Initiative is an important program by the university’s Community Services division. It originally targeted the renovation of homes of orphans and underprivileged families.
Third year finance student Bilal Farid Mir described the school project as one of the biggest he has worked on as part of the initiative. “We had to remove old posters, scrape old paint, and clean the walls and columns before painting. We also had to clear the computer lab out and scrape and clean them before we painted and furnished the place. The size of the school is big and it took a lot of work to finish it in a short time,” he explained.
Mir, who worked on two other projects as part of the Hand-in-Hand Initiative last year, said the reward from this project had a different flavor. “Last year, we rehabilitated the home of orphans living with their grandparents on the outskirts of Sharjah, as well as the residential quarters of the farm workers living behind University City. Usually we can see how happy it makes people when we hand over a project. Their facial expressions say it all. However, this time the school students went out of their way and prepared a performance for us to thank us. It was an emotional and overwhelming handover,” he said.
Khawla Abdulrahman Al-Nuaimi, a senior electrical engineering major, also took part in the project and said that she learns something new every time she takes part in such a project. “You really learn how to work with a team. You work with people you do not know but then all of you are working towards achieving one goal. I feel that I can work with anyone now.”
Mir echoed Al-Nuaimi’s thoughts saying that it is a great when you see people rising to the occasion to provide help. “The students just take responsibility and get their hands dirty. No matter how menial the job is, people never let their ego stand in the way and work together hand in hand,” he said. “It is really humbling to work on these projects.”
Reflecting on her experience, Al-Nuaimi said that all she focused on when she first entered AUS was her studies. “For the first two years, I just focused on my studies and I really regret this. I did not do anything else. I was also attached to my friends, I would not go anywhere they did not. However, volunteering made me my own person.”
Al-Nuaimi, who is the recipient of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) Scholarship, is also a Peer Leader in the Student Leadership Program at AUS. This entails her working with first year students to help them adapt to their new life and make the transition from school to university. “AUS provides this wonderful opportunity where you can focus on your academics and at the same time grow through extra-curricular opportunities, and I constantly encourage freshmen to learn from my experience and to create a balance between their studies and university activities. There are many clubs they can join and I definitely encourage all students I work with to volunteer with the Community Services Division.”
Mir also noted that it is easy for students to get caught up in academic work. However, “having the opportunity to get engaged in extra-curricular opportunities will leave a positive impact on you no matter what your personal dreams and career aspirations are. During my first year, I was an introvert but once I got introduced to the opportunity to volunteer I learned so much. You develop your soft skills, decision-making process, it keeps you humble, and you help others,” he said.
Mir is a recipient of three AUS scholarships. He received the Outstanding Active Student Scholarship in 2019, a merit scholarship upon joining AUS, and is on the Chancellor’s List.
AUS offers the opportunity for a university education to those who have the necessary talent and commitment. Valued at AED 80 million, the AUS scholarship fund sees merit scholarships and need-based financial grants benefiting approximately two-thirds of all AUS students each year.
Scholarships are available to all students, regardless of race, color, gender, religion or national origin.