For many students, as final exams fast approach, the last few weeks of class rarely present any new or exciting material.
Dozens of students filled Hemmerdinger Hall at the Silver Center of Arts and Science on Thursday for what they thought would be a standard lecture for their International Politics of the Middle East class. However, as they filed into the rows of seats, the students were greeted with bright lights and a full camera crew.
Professor Ayda Erbal told her students that their class had been chosen to take part in an NYU promotional video and then preceded with class as usual. It wasn't until five minutes later that the class was let in on the real reason the cameras were rolling.
When a knock at the door sounded, Erbal had the distinct pleasure of announcing that mtvU and NYU had teamed up to bring ABC News Global Affairs Anchor and CNN International's Amanpour host Christiane Amanpour to the course as a guest lecturer. Her visit was part of the Emmy award-winning mtvU series "Stand In."
"Stand-In," a product of the 24-hour television channel mtvU, pairs pop culture, celebrity or political figures with a class at an affiliate school to guest-teach unsuspecting students. Some of the show's guest professors included Madonna, Kanye West, Bill Gates and John Legend.
"I was totally taken aback," CAS sophomore Gabriella Chavez said. "I just thought it was going to be a normal lecture but then Christiane Amanpour walked in. It was a shock,"
Amanpour, who has spent 29 years reporting on various Middle Eastern affairs, spoke to the class about topics ranging from gender equality and economic development to the challenges currently facing college graduates. Much of Amanpours discussion revolved around her optimistic outlook on youth and hope for resolutions within the Middle East, which was quite appropriate considering the university venue and audience.
"Young people are the same all over the world," Amanpour said. "You all want representative democracy. You all want to be able to vote in and vote out leaders. You all want to have the rule of law. You all want a justice system that is not stacked in favor of the smaller view but instead for everybody."
Amanpour declared herself an extreme optimist and recognized that no matter where a person was born or what socio-economic background they come from, graduates and people entering a job market share a common goal — they want a dignified means of providing for themselves and their families.
The optimism with which Amanpour discussed the future, in terms of education, culture, the economy and international relations, was fully comprehended by the students, who enjoyed the impromptu lecture.
"Her discourse was based on the importance of the people's voice which is something we don't hear about a lot when it comes to dealing with foreign affairs issues," CAS freshman Maria Ariel said.
The 42 minutes Amanpour spent as an NYU guest lecturer were mostly used to add a first-hand perspective to the Middle Eastern studies students have been working on all semester, a welcome change the personal resumes guest speakers typically recite when presenting to a class.
CAS sophomore Mike Place said he will not be disappointed if there are no more camera crews awaiting his arrival for the last few weeks of class but believes Amanpour's lecture will be something the class talks about throughout the remainder of the course.
"It makes you more excited about what you're learning if someone is willing to come in a talk to you, especially someone like a journalist such as [Amanpour]," Place said. "It feels like what we're studying is really going to have an impact."