Sunday, August 25, 2013

A Reflection On My Journey

A few days ago, I received an e-mail from the Yale Young Global Scholars program. This e-mail contained the group the photo that was taken. About 155 students and quite a few staff members were in this photo. I decided view this photo on my iPhone. I zoomed in and as I scanned all the faces, I realized that I had talked to and made connections with most of these people. This is when it all sank in. I felt a pang in my heart and I realized that it was all over. It dawned on me that I might never see these wonderful men, women, and scholars ever again. I spent about two weeks with these people. It may not seem like a lot, but being with them for more than 12 hours a day really makes the environment familial. I laughed, learned, ate, walked, and talked with the people in the YYGS program. I lived in the same place as them for nearly two weeks. We were a bunch of strangers that volunteered to go to a place for an amount of time and during this process we made friends, created cliques, and built a family. I may not have met everyone there, but I definitely can tell that if one of them didn't attend, then the atmosphere would have been different. 
The YYGS family!

It was only a few months ago that I interviewed for this program. When I heard my name I was absolutely shocked. I expected the one or both of the other Hercules students to get in. I wasn't particularly overachieving when it came to my grades, my rank wasn't where I wanted it to be, and I stumbled a bit during the interview. The two other Hercules kids who applied probably had far better grades and ranks than I. I don't know what put me through. Maybe it was my ability to speak. But I now know, because of the ILC and from the YYGS program, that grades, school rankings, and standardized test scores don't necessarily define a person. We are all multidimensional and excel at different things. A better scholar doesn't necessarily mean a better person or vice versa. I came to realize that I am just as smart as the highly intelligent students that I have met throughout the year. After this program, I feel like I can get through anything. I faced a 12 hour school day, hours of extra work from essays, reading, and the Marshall Brief, and I survived the murder board.

For those of you who don't know, the Marshall Brief is a policy paper that a group of four work on. We had about a week to do it, though some would argue two weeks. The requirement was that it had to be no more than 4,000 words. We were all given our topics. My topic was human rights and my group chose human trafficking in Russia. My policy leader commemorate her policy group (there were two groups of four) because we could have chosen countries that were more concerned about human rights, but instead my group chose Russia and the other group chose China. After we turned in the Marshall Brief, we had to make a PowerPoint presentation and present our policy to the Murder Board. This is where I felt my group did particularly well. One of our slides ended up disappearing. That particular slide was vital, but we didn't let its disappearance phase us. My group had great teamwork. During our presentation we came up with a secret system where we would decide who answers which policy-ripping question. I also felt that the China group did very well too. 
Team Bembo and Team Helvetica! Our policy leader (far left) named us after fonts. After our presentation we went to Shake Shack. I still like In-N-Out better.
I have to say that the simulation was a highlight of the program. We all were assigned roles. They ranged from leaders of nations to global news reporters. I was assigned the Brazilian delegate of the United Nations. Just as the real United Nations, we didn't get very much done. In the end, the Brazilian government, the people I reported to regularly for two days, were executed for asking if the president if they could assassinate her. Thankfully I was safe, but the UN disbanded. Eric was a bit luckier. He was assigned Iran and they ended up getting nuclear weapons. It seemed that everyone, except Brazil was lying about having chemical and biological weapons, which was what the summit is about. We all had to work as the simulation command was sending orders and news left and right. The simulation has taught me about working in a very high speed and intense environment. 

Our very last day had a lecture or two (YYGS isn't too fond of breaks.) But after the lectures we had our graduation ceremony. This is when everyone took a whole bunch of pictures and ate a nice dinner. We then had Fun Night after passing room inspections. Fun Night was filled with karaoke, dancing, and games. I was running everywhere! I was singing at the karaoke while doing an awkward jumping dance and I went downstairs to play ping pong, which I'm horrible at. The next day, we had to say goodbye. I was leaving knowing a lot more than what I knew when I came in. I learned more about colleges, people, and the world.

I was leaving my family away from home. These people comforted me when I needed it. They laughed with me. They did almost everything with me. And we all had to leave. I felt sad, but I left them with a smile on my face.

Overall, the worrying, the humiliation, the work, the anxiety, the waiting, the work, the new friends, the colleges, the long nights, and the work was well worth it. I send my gratitude to the ILC, the YYGS program, the kids in the YYGS, my family, my friends, my cohort, my chaperone, and to everyone for supporting me and giving me a great experience that I will carry into my future.

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