“Challenging, inspirational, and impactful”. These are the words that stand out in mind when I think of my YYGS experience.

BBS 2016
Mika Kayiranga
Rwanda

One week before the starting of the program, I felt like I was about to go on an adventure since I had to get on a plane for the very first time, cross boundaries of my landlocked country, fly over the Atlantic ocean and above all, step my feet in the famous “New York city”.

Reaching JFK, I was amazed by the place. The CT Limo driver was kind to all his passengers, and I felt so welcomed but so curious to know what was going to happen next. Dragging my suitcase behind me as I entered the JE gates, I felt reluctant to continue my steps following one of the instructors. Suddenly, I started to see many different teenagers like me from all around the world, but there was one thing they had in common: their YYGS nametags. I felt a bit jealous and I could not wait to get one too and be part of the big team.

Ranging from students who had a 35 ACT composite score to those who had built their own organizations, at YYGS program I was surrounded with very smart people and I was a bit frightened thinking that I wouldn’t fit in that community. And yes it was challenging. However, I felt relaxed a little bit when the STEM program manager said “the fact that you got accepted into this program is enough to prove that you are smart”.

From plastic-eating fungi lectures to leadership in healthcare seminars, I enjoyed every single day of the program ranging from having lectures in fancy air-conditioned lecture halls and also having special lunch with Yale professors and Yale graduate students.

I always smiled to myself whenever I could think that I had Chinese and Pakistanis sisters and Seattle brothers. I felt so excited whenever we could have a family lunch from Shake Shack and Chipotle, and ordering four different types of pizzas for family dinner.

In the YYGS program, I also discovered a new part of me that I did not know. Through discussion groups, that is where my mind got so focused on different challenging questions that were asked by other global scholars. Through lectures, that is where I started to see that one can actually use science to solve many problems that stand out in our societies. And yes the program was inspirational.

From Australia, Germany to Ghana, Slovenia and Mexico (not forgetting the United States), I had made friends from all over the world. They not only thought me how to play Frisbee, but they also inspired me to stand up for what I believe in no matter what. They also made me learn to share with others something new I learn in every day. It is because of them that I now know how one can quickly make an endless friendship with new people regardless of where they come from. That is why wherever I will go, whatever I will do I will always be proud that I am a YYGS alumni.

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