"He said to remember that we are all human, and that, no matter what our differences are, they are never enough for to justify us turning against each other. That, in a nutshell, is what YYGS teaches you."

Claire Dinshaw,

Connecticut, USA

I was standing along the far wall of the classroom when it finally hit me. Someone across the room had made a quick, somewhat snide, remark about what it is like to grow up in my neighborhood as an Asian-American. Immediately, my head snapped up to see how many Asian-Americans were in the room, I wanted to see their reactions, to see if they seemed to agree, or if they had found his comment insulting. My final count: one, just the guy who had made the joke.

This confused me, so I scanned the room once again, counting, and then re-counting. I spent fifteen years of my life in this town, with these people, but for some reason, at that moment, the entire scene felt so strange, so foreign. It suddenly bothered me that everyone around me looked alike and dressed alike to the point where they almost seemed to blend into each other. Later, I tried to talk about a few national issues, but I wound up feeling strange, awkward even. The room was too quiet. It was like I was lecturing. Where was the discussion, the argument, that some of my comments should have sparked?

I realized at that moment that I was still mentally stuck in the world of Yale Young Global Scholars (YYGS), a program run by Yale University to help students from around the world gain a global, informed perspective on politics and international affairs. Many occurrences, both big and small, have served to shock me back to reality, as if the world I belonged to during my time at YYGS was some sort of alternate universe, and, I guess, in a way it kind of was. I mean, think about it, YYGS brings students together from around the world, providing them with a forum to have lively discussions and challenging debates, all while they are also living and having meals together. If anything even remotely like this happened in the world of diplomacy, journalists would fly across the
world in a heartbeat just to witness even seconds of the festivities.  Even in international affairs, an area of the professional world that should be fraught with cultural exchange and constant conversation, a gathering like the G8 or G20, which gets a handful of world leaders together to give a couple of politicized speeches and hold a few highly structured talks, before retreating back to their own hotel room, draws thousands of film crews and journalists.

Thinking about it this way, it is safe to assume that I may never find a place as diverse and dynamic as the YYGS community.  For anyone considering applying I would say simply -- go for it, believe me it is worth it. However, if you are not, let me at least entertain you with one story from time at YYGS.

***
Around half of the program was gathered to watch The Square, a movie about the revolution in Egypt that took place just a few years ago. It chronicles how strong friendships fell on hard times as the once united protesters slowly became divided over questions of politics and, sometimes, religion.
At the end of the movie someone from Tunisia, another country which recently experienced a series of non-violent protests and revolutions, stood up. He asked to say a few words. What he said next, I do not think I will ever forget.

He told us the story of his country's revolution. He said to remember that we are all human, and that, no matter what our differences are, they are never enough for to justify us turning against each other.
That, in a nutshell, is what YYGS teaches you. At Yale I was given the chance to befriend and relate to people who, on the surface, I had almost nothing in common with. I learned that no matter who we are, diversity is just as much of a recipe for unity as is homogeneity. That is truly a lesson I will never forget.

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