Only a couple of days into my two-week stay, I received a second degree burn. The mind-numbing pain caused by a hot hair curler originated in my wrist, but seared up my lower arm almost constantly for the rest of the program. The burn eventually healed, but a poppy-colored scar nearly three inches in diameter still hangs on with no signs of fading. I welcome its presence. I like to think that it’s my souvenir; my treasured piece of the Yale Young Global Scholars program that will accompany me for the rest of my life.
During my time at Yale, I lived and learned with the most incredible people I have ever met. Prior to the program, I had rarely encountered people who were so intelligent, passionate and strong-willed yet still genuinely curious about other people and their beliefs. My 200 cohorts of the International Affairs and Security session defied my expectations, and I am now close to an ever-expanding network of young adults who are just as consumed by their love of the world as I am.
The concepts and skills I learned during the program have become an integral part of my identity. I approach problems differently, with a more open and inquisitive mind. I hear other people differently; I listen more and speak less. The expansive knowledge I was exposed to not only improved my education, but it improved my ability to educate myself. I have become infinitely more interested in the happenings of the world around me, and the issues we face each day. Because of the Young Global Scholars program, I am a better debater, speaker, listener, friend, student, and human being.
Though the program was primarily academic, the friendships I made during my time there will never cease, and the memories I made will always be with me. I’ll never forget late nights in the buttery, watching my friends go on a week-long streak of undefeated ping pong battles. I’ll never forget watching Netflix late at night in the library, or the endless amount of time spent walking to and from the lecture hall. I’ll never forget dinner together with my friends at Shake Shack, or being forced to seal envelopes during a lunch period after accidentally wandering “out of bounds.” My time at Yale was filled to the brim with laughter and friendship, and I wish every day that we could go back.
We studied and worked hard in those two weeks. We survived on three hours of sleep per night, and loved every minute of it. We made friends, we laughed and we got in trouble. I made friends and learned things at Yale Young Global Scholars that will always be a part of me and who I am. I’ve got the scar to prove it.