Three New York University students representing two countries, Canada and the United Arab Emirates, have been selected as Rhodes Scholars: Dubai Abulhoul (UAE) and Guillaume Sylvain (Canada), seniors at NYU Abu Dhabi, and Melissa Godin (Canada), a senior in NYU’s Global Liberal Studies Program.
Abulhoul, from the UAE, is majoring in political science and is currently researching the effect of gender roles and culture on political participation in her home country as part of her senior capstone project. She is a member of the Emirates Youth Council, a government initiative aiming to develop government strategies to keep up with youth trends, identify challenges facing today’s youth, and to ensure participation of youth in UAE public affairs.
In 2012, she authored Galagolia: The Hidden Divination, a best-selling Emirati fantasy novel that made her the UAE’s youngest published author. Abulhoul, who has interned at the UAE Embassy in Washington D.C., later received the 2014 Arab Woman Award for Young Talent of the Year in recognition of her book.
Godin, who was born in Montreal and was raised in Vancouver, has created a concentration in politics, human rights, and sustainable development. Her thesis examines the value of volunteer tourism, arguing that it needs to be restructured if it is to truly support development. As part of her project, she has researched orphanage tourism in Cambodia.
Godin has also interned at the Canadian embassy in Paris and served as head editor for a report on sex trafficking that was used at the 60th United Nations session of the Commission on the Status of Women. It was during high school at the Mulgrave School in West Vancouver that she first began organizing to raise awareness about human trafficking, creating an educational program and helping organize a benefit concert that brought in $16,000 for the non-profit, Not for Sale.
Sylvain, from Quebec, has become immersed in the Arabic language and the Middle East, majoring in NYU Abu Dhabi’s interdisciplinary Arab Crossroads program and minoring in Arabic language and political science. His capstone research looks at how secondary school textbooks work to instill a set of shared values and a sense of Emirati historical national consciousness in a young nation where its citizens (UAE nationals) are a distinct minority.
He also serves as the chairperson for the NYU Abu Dhabi student organization AD-vocacy and as an Arabic translator and crewmember with Refugee Rescue UK in its international rescue efforts in Lesbos Island, Greece. Sylvain, who has interned at the Embassy of Canada in the UAE and at Hedayah, an International Center for Countering Violent Extremism based in the UAE, plans to pursue a MPhil in Modern Middle Eastern Studies at Oxford.