"Ten Thousand Five Hundred Miles Away From Home…"

Celine Aju

Will I fit in? Am I smart enough?  Will I be able to relate creditably? These were the questions that plagued my mind as I disembarked from the plane on that faithful morning.  As I walked out of the New York airport, I came to the realization that I was going to be living with 200 “extremely talented high school students”. I had never been so nervous in my life. The long drive to Yale`s campus gave me ample time to feed my fears so that when I arrived at my destination - Jonathan Edwards College, I bit my lip and said a short prayer.

Having arrived a day early, this little caterpillar who had crawled ten thousand five hundred miles to Yale`s campus had one night to wrap herself in her cocoon before being exposed to the world.
By the next morning, I was in the safety of my cocoon till some participants, who I came across the previous day, called me from my window. We went for breakfast at Panera bread and I had the most amazing breakfast and conversation of my life. We talked about a variety of things, ranging from why we applied for YYGS to our thoughts about the presidential elections in USA that was ongoing at the time.

As soon as we returned to the courtyard, I began a welcome party for all the newcomers; this was me trying to come out of my cocoon. Although once the program began in full force, I began beating at the walls of my cocoon by actively participating in seminars like “After Tahrir Square”. I also got the chance to feel the pressure of staging a revolution with my group “King James I party”. After that, I began to understand the requisites for staging a successful revolution, determine whether or not there is anything like a “peaceful revolution”. This was one of the numerous chances I got to experience the true meaning of leadership.

My daily routine involved extended discussions on Rwanda genocides; this stirred me to think up ways by which I could contribute my quota to global peace. I was so deeply impressed and informed that I came to realize that, like the proverbial little drops of water, my inputs can make a huge difference on the rest of the world. For the first time in my life, I wrote a research paper: The Refugee Crisis in Syria and although this alien task seemed daunting, I had a wonderful team to work with.

On July 21st, as I sang Clarity with Adrian Rivera, Tyler Miles and Yoorie Chang on the piano, I saw the beautiful multi-coloured butterfly I had turned into. My different colours represent all the different things I have learned, the word wide connections I have made and how more open-minded I have become. I felt free because YYGS had broken the reigns of the stereotypical teenager I had been and had given me clarity on so much more than I have ever researched or learnt in class. I had become a true global scholar.

 I am really grateful to all who made this possible for me as they have put a little Nigerian girl on an unforeseeable pedestal. Your investment has made an indelible mark on my life and I can confidently say that the person I have become will make an impact in the world and will turn out in life, an equally generous investor in the lives of other people.

Thank you for putting my feet on the path of true greatness and setting me on the path of true discovery.

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