By: Shunethra Senthilkumar from India
Is education all about school and marks? Whoever said it is definitely wrong. After all the rigorous coaching in school and triumphantly completing my exams, I really wanted something new; something different.
In fact, it was my mom who constantly pushed me to scout for summer programs abroad. Soon I found that there was a list of programs that popped up from which I had to shortlist. The next immediate question: Which kind of program? My inquisitive and workaholic nature opened space for programs which were academically useful and brought in more diversity along with leadership.
Home to the famous ‘Merlion’, Singapore was the country where the Yale Young Global Scholars Program took place at the reputed Yale-NUS University. I felt this program as a promising and perfect choice. My happiness knew no bounds when I was updated about my selection. Never did I imagine to be one among so many inspiring students from around the world!
However the thought of traveling alone daunted me as I hardly knew anything about traveling abroad. Everything was new to me and my eyes became dewy-eyed whenever my mom texted me . “How do I overcome that?,” I thought to myself.The most important lesson I learned is to ‘communicate to people’ and ask for help even if the reason seemed frivolous to them.
I was exhilarated at the sight of a huge university like Yale-NUS. We spent the first two days touring Singapore.Most of them were historical places which later helped me in my presentation. As I had expected, there were a lot of students from diverse backgrounds across the world.I had a tough time adapting to the residential dorms and the large university. There were times when I felt abashed as I couldn’t comprehend their accent; or when they couldn’t figure out mine. “Surely nothing else can go wrong,” I said to myself. It was not a happy starting for me.
Slowly, I was able to get my feet under the table. I endeavored to work with people from various countries. The schedule for the day starts at 9a.m and prolongs till 9:30 p.m. Every day it starts with lectures designed on current development issues with inputs from highly knowledgeable professors from the Yale University. Then comes the time for discussions and debates pertaining to the lectures. The other interesting aspect of the program was the Capstone project, which kept us engaged until late night. We were divided into groups of eight and had to frame a development plan for Turkey. Our group presented our own video and, Hurrah! our constructive plan was extolled by the instructors at the end of the program.
Soon after lunch we are ready for the seminars having a whole range of topics, which are somehow connected to leadership and teamwork. An attractive feature of seminars is the practical and ground-breaking teachings put up, which makes it a true melting pot of ideas. My favorite one was the ‘Humanitarian Engineering’ as it was engaging and it still remains carved in my mind. In the skills workshop session, we mainly focus on molding our leadership skills, communication and essay writing for college admissions. This program also laid a platform to discuss about careers and college admissions where I was able to get rid of my doubts.
Things changed for the good. I found out the more you speak to people the more supportive they are. Throughout the program, the instructors remained supportive, encouraging and easily approachable. Amidst the extensive course work, I also got the chance of singing a classical Tamil song in the talent show. Despite the unfamiliarity of the language, my new friends cheered loud and I sang with pride!
My association with YYGS has been an enriching one. Although it was for a short period of time, it has taught me a lot in terms of being independent, thinking rationally, working together in teams, developing strong relationships and a glimpse of studying abroad. As a result, I have learnt many new things, which I didn’t in India. This audacious move taken has indeed given me an everlasting experience that I had never got before.
Now, I think the reason for the first question is obvious, don’t you?