Photo Credit: Vivian Hir
I was 30 minutes from Yale University and my heart was pounding. Excitement and apprehension were the two words to describe what I felt. apprehensive at the same time. I came all the way from California to attend the Biological and Biomedical Sciences session at Yale Young Global Scholars, a 2 week summer program. After I first stepped on the Davenport College courtyard, I was impressed by my surroundings. I couldn’t believe that I was in a program in which 91 nationalities (in my session) were represented. My initial assumptions of the experience at YYGS understated the actual impact the program had on me. I find it quite incredible that my attitude towards the world and science has significantly changed within a short period.
Before, I had this preconception that I would not be to relate to others who had significantly different life experiences. This assumption was shattered after having conversations with many types of people. Instead of seeing the differences among my peers, I decided to find the similarities within one another. Instead of being the shy person I used to be, I decided to become more outgoing. Starting each conversation with a seemingly simple question of “Where are you from?” ended up becoming a complex discussion. By participating in this cultural exchange, I was intrigued to find out about my friend’s country’s attitude towards a wide range of topics. For instance, I had an interesting discussion with my Ethiopian suitemate about political corruption when it came to writing history textbooks or discussing past tragic events. Although I was aware of the news by listening to the radio, it wasn’t until I asked people who witnessed these events that made me even more aware as a global citizen.
Another activity that helped develop global awareness was special meals. Instead of keeping my ideas to myself, listening to others talk about their own stories expanded my view of the world. One of my favorite special meals was about solving local political issues. Listening to my peers discuss various problems in their hometown made me more attentive. The discussion made me notice that I was living in a bubble for my entire life because I never took much consideration about other issues that are widely prevalent, such as segregation. Coming from a demographically homogeneous school, I started to realize the importance of being part of a diverse community. Instead of being restricted to a limited number of views, these different thoughts motivated me to be more curious about what was going on in the real world.
For the academic aspect of YYGS, I learned to be more open-minded towards other fields of biology. Before coming here, I was firm about studying biochemistry or biotechnology. After attending the lectures and seminars, I became interested in new academic interests, specifically chemical engineering. One inspirational lecture connected emerging biological problems such as diseases with climate change. After the lecturer discussed new efforts to stop climate change such as carbon capture or renewable resources, I became interested in studying chemistry that addressed environmental problems. Similarly, a seminar that encouraged me to pursue new interests was called Green Chemistry 101. After learning the 12 principles of green chemistry that tried to address current environmental issues in the industry, I wanted to know more about how to use science to solve worldwide problems.
After leaving Yale, I am confident to say that YYGS is a once-in-a-lifetime experience because I will not find an outside group as heterogenous as YYGS. Even if everyone comes from different backgrounds, we act like one huge family. Not only that, attending various lectures and seminars made me feel inspired to tackle various problems by finding new scientific discoveries. After undergoing a mental metamorphosis, my mind is now a butterfly that is free to explore the world.