Today I woke up at 8:40. We were hypothetically supposed to be ready to go at 9, but Brenna heard Sara say that they were operating on “Arab time” aka we should actually be ready to go around 9:30.
Breakfast was pretty good this morning – I had toast with two (dry) fried eggs, some cornflakes and an apple. I also was able to pack an apple and a banana in my bag, so I was a happy camper!
We loaded the bus around 9:30 and were off to AUD. We made our way up to one of the main conference rooms in one of the campus buildings and got hear some opening remarks from different deans of the university. The keynote speaker was pretty interesting, and sticking to our theme of sustainable cities, talked a lot about how Dubai and the Emirates as a whole are really trying to stay ahead of the curve energy-wise. One of the things that really stuck with me was when he talked about how much energy is wasted when you want to simply boil an egg – from the drilling of the oil to the refining all the way through the excess heat that escapes when the water is boiled thanks to said oil, he said that literally only 2% of the original energy makes it through!
After the keynote address, we headed outside to plant a commemorative tree! Each of the Harvard delegates got to help shovel dirt on top of this tree, and at the end we took a group photo (that we’re going to send to Dean Pfister!)
Then we got to go on a tour of AUD’s campus. It actually reminded me a LOT of Maru-a-Pula (the school in Botswana were I was a teacher this past summer/where this blog started!) It had many open-air pathways surrounded by bunches of trees and the campus was divided “by subject” like at MaP. The campus was about seven buildings total, each with a different subject in them (i.e. the A building was for the architecture undergrads, the E building was for the engineers, etc.
After the tour, we headed to lunch at Jedoudna. Lunch was again very yummy (I had 1.5 chicken wraps). We then walked back to AUD’s campus and learned a bit more about Emirati culture from Ms. Joan Abdullah (an American who married an Emirati about 25 years ago and therefore has extensive knowledge about both cultures).
We sat that through a panel discussion. Once that was done, we headed back to the hotel room to freshen up. After reading a crazy email, we realized that we were headed to see Bill Clinton!
Turns out that former president Clinton was meeting with some of the Clinton Scholars who attend AUD and then he was heading onto a huge event/gala (more info here: http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/uae/education/mohammad-meets-bill-clinton-at-global-education-forum-in-dubai-1.1304782). Wael was able to pull a few strings and soon we were off to the tallest hotel in the world. Like I’ve been saying, this city is literally larger than life. The JW Marriott consists of two separate towers, each with around 70 floors (and, of course, this is a 5-star hotel).
After waiting around in one of the many ballrooms for a good 90 minutes, Clinton finally came out and we were able to take a picture with him and tell him about HCAP! He genuinely seemed interested (although he was clearly in a big hurry) and was able to sign a copy of his book for Wael.
I was SO glad that I had eaten this trail mix that I had brought with me on the bus before going to meet Clinton, because we didn’t get back to AUD until around 9, and dinner didn’t come until 9:30. When the pizza arrived, I ate two slices in no time at all (which clearly shows how hungry I was since I don’t really like pizza!) We then headed back to our hotel and went (pretty much straight) to sleep.
TGT: 1) Meeting former president Clinton 2) delicious lunch at Jedoudna 3) interesting opening remarks and subsequent tree planting to start off the HCAP Dubai conference!
Until next time,
P.S. Here’s a lovely selfie I captured of me and Clinton (Signing Wael’s book!)