By: Abdoul Aziz Sandotin Coulibaly from Cote D’Ivoire
It has been exactly six months and two days since I left the Yale Young Global Scholars Program. It was my first time in the United States. From the instant I stepped out of the plane, I immediately felt at home because of the warm weather and the welcoming people. This first contact with the land excited me to the point of wishing to arrive at my final destination, Yale University New Haven, as soon as possible. About one hour later I was in front of the gates. As I stood in front of the Yale gates, I felt as if the exotic buildings at Yale opened gate to a whole new world and a completely different outlook. Moreover, I felt amazingly satisfied standing on such nice green grass. Truly, being at Yale was for me like being in the benign environment I always dreamt of. Both the caring instructors and students made me feel loved and the hospitality with which they took care of me when I was unwell. I could not have asked for more. This ethos of compassion started right at the beginning of the camp when I felt sick. The instructors were there with such affection and this caring way of helping me. They checked on me in my room, helping me to recover and asking me questions about my emotional well-being.
Through a larger lens, this tenet has been demonstrated in each aspect of the program. For example, the allocated time for the program corresponded with the fasting period for Muslims. YYGS met the Muslim community’s expectations by organizing an off campus dinner to break the fast every night. Additionally, they were accommodating in that we were served halal food which is an Islamic requirement. Generally, I was satisfied by the food, and I did not find any difference between Yale’s catering and my regular diet when I am at school or at home.
YYGS also provided a safe environment for students of different religions to express and practice their faiths. Rather than religious’ debates resulting to clashes, the debates were more subjects of curiosity, enthusiasm, inspiration, and understanding among the students
At Yale, I gained valuable skills in how to maximize lectures, discussions and seminars and how I will apply them in my next level of education. Through the discussions, I learnt how to identify key ideas and to get the point of view of my audience. The meaning of the word “dialogue” was clearly defined during my time at the Yale University. I have never been in a more diverse environment. I shared classes with 203 students from all over the globe. From each single person, I learnt the meaning of being useful to the world and to my community. From every single one of them, I learnt what a global young leader and being intellectual meant. I learnt what it meant to have a group discussion where I can share my opinions and my beliefs without being judged. The students listened to me attentively, they agreed and disagreed with my opinions with respect. I gained more confidence in sharing my opinions and broadening my perspectives on the topics we discussed.
Truthfully, YYGS was an experience both challenging and fulfilling as I was amazed by this urgent need to connect, interact, and empathize with people from diverse backgrounds. It has been an opportunity to create a strong learning environment, beneficial for every individual. In others words, those connections were the ones which turned the difference between our cultures, our backgrounds, our idiosyncrasies into nice topics of conversation where the correspondents were appealing to active listening and debate thereby creating a strong learning medium. In addition, my experience as a scholar has pushed me to define the status of servant leadership. This experience basically led me to develop personally, academically, and socially with the privilege of participating in this program, I understand my responsibilities toward my community and my own person. Being part of the YYGS program has been so far the most meaningful step in my leadership journey and my personal life. It was a memorable event.
As of today, YYGS made me realize that I came as a Francophone speaker to a bilingual environment and I am able to formulate clear arguments with native English speakers.
As of today, I am proud of myself. I am someone who has taken challenges and who has the determination and willingness to strive in life.
As of today, I see what I called “silent Leadership”, the ability to use self-awareness, self-regulation, self-motivation, and self-improvement to drive a group of people in a humble way.
As of today, I am grateful for the opportunity I had to meet mentors and friends and build life-long relationship at the Yale Young Global Scholars Program.
As of today, I feel so happy because for once in my life I stood for something which contributed to change the perceptions that some people had about my continent, Africa.
As of today, I understand my personality which will help others and create mindful impact in my society by using the relationships made at the Yale Young Global Scholar Program.
As of today, I can say that I have friends all over the world on who I can count on to back me and host me wherever I am.
As of today, I am deeply grateful to Yale, the participants, and instructors for the amazing opportunity which can only be lived and not told.