"It has taken me a significant amount of time to inwardly reflect and pinpoint the change that YYGS prompted within me, and it is still difficult to explain exactly how that change has manifested since."

Katarina Flicker
Connecticut, USA

It has been two weeks since I have left Yale Young Global Scholars: International Affairs and Security, and each day since I have been attempting to make sense of much of the information I received there. Not only was YYGS incredible in its ability to bring together globally aware young people from all over the world, but it also taught me an unforgettable lesson about what it means to be an American in a culturally diverse world.

Before YYGS, I had an evident interest in the global affairs. However, YYGS made me aware of the perspective at which I viewed the world, and therefore the conflict that the world faces everyday. It has taken me a significant amount of time to inwardly reflect and pinpoint the change that YYGS prompted within me, and it is still difficult to explain exactly how that change has manifested since. For the first time ever in my life, people from all over the world surrounded me as we studied and discussed events that affected us all differently. Sitting around my discussion table with the same group of students after each lecture allowed me to build relationships with a number of very diverse students in the same setting. With this in mind, through constant dialogue, I learned that my perspective was extremely American-centric on each global issue I encountered. This is not to say that I would analyze conflict and propose a resolution that would only benefit America, but rather, I had an image of America as a great global “superpower” – the best country in the world – an unstoppable nation that would use their own power and resources to defend our allies nations, etc. To my initial surprise and sadness, I learned that this is not true for a series of different ways.

For me, learning this lesson was like learning one’s parents are not perfect – something that since childhood, one is taught to believe was true. You can probably imagine that this realization was a bit unsettling for me. The craziest thing about my time at Yale was that being in such a diverse community allowed me to reflect upon my own perspective and understand that it is uniquely American. I have reflected a significant amount since my time at YYGS IAS, and I have concluded that I was born and raised in America – it is my home, and with this in mind, it is all right, in fact it is probable that my perspective regarding global affairs is distinctly American. However, I was never able to acknowledge how much being an American shaped the way I viewed global affairs.

I feel that my experience as a Yale Young Global Scholar was something I could have never imagined going into the program, because the friendships I made there are what truly enabled me to learn about myself. I am incredibly thankful for this experience, because now I feel that I am a truly global scholar. I have so much more to learn, but YYGS has provided me with an amazing opportunity that I am so incredibly glad I was a part of.

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