Jonathan Kao

California USA
SDSE 2018

For anyone on the fence about applying, I hope that sharing my experience will tip the scale in favor. Walking onto campus on the first day, I was very excited, but I also couldn’t hide the fact that I was beginning to feel incredibly nervous and honestly even a bit uncomfortable. According to a 2017 statistic that the YYGS program is really proud about, 48% of admitted students are international, representing over 142 countries and 52 states. These statistics are unbelievable! Nowhere else will you be able to find a similar experience surrounded by so many different viewpoints, perspectives, and unique personalities. Looking back, of course I was nervous! I had never met students from such a variety of backgrounds and cultures. Some of the greatest lasting friendships I made even came from places I have never heard before. Walking in, I never would have expected that soon I would become roommates with a student from South Africa and another from Pakistan, or even become great friends with an unbelievable student from Myanmar. 

One of the main goals of YYGS is to allow ambitious high school students to experience a college workload while still having a lot of fun and interacting with peers. I thought that the program did a spectacular job exposing my peers and me to amazing lectures from Yale faculty, discussion sessions and dedicated group time with current Yale Students, special seminars on obscure subjects hosted by passionate students, and finally a capstone research project led by Yale faculty. My favorite part of the educational portion of the program by far was the capstone project. For my project, I was paired with a diverse group of students, and I really enjoyed working with their varying perspectives and strengths. One of them was from Myanmar, another from Taiwan, and my last teammate was actually part of the Yale Young African Scholars program and from South Africa. I was very fortunate to work along with and have Matthew O’ Malley, a very dedicated graduate student, as my mentor. He led my group and me to research the topic of Humanitarian Issues in the Smart Device Supply Chain, and we were ultimately able to present in front of the program at the end of the session. I learned a lot from this process and was exposed to a lot of online research resources as well as various Yale-specific resources (such as their expansive library!).

On the topic of Yale’s library, I also wanted to mention one of my favorite extracurricular moments of camp. As with many other elite private institutions, the Yale library contains millions and millions of volumes and miles of shelving. In addition, they have a great deal of cool/antique items such as a still-functioning printing press and even a rare magazines collection. Obviously, even if we spent the whole two weeks exploring and indulging in this myriad of resources, we still wouldn’t have enough time. So, the Yale Young Global Scholars program set up a “39 Clues” type scavenger hunt that took several hours but exposed the campers to all the interesting parts and resources that they have. When discussing with other campers and what they thought their favorite moment at camp was, a lot of them stated that they enjoyed running through the library (quietly of course) searching through for hint after hint the most. Activities such as the capstone project and the scavenger hunt (not even to mention the brilliant lectures and discussion sessions) made the experience unforgettable: I was not only challenged intellectually, but I was able to make lasting friendships and connections. For anyone reading this and thinking about applying, do it or regret your decision!

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