"I am not good at writing pieces of literature that bring tears to my readers eyes but I am good at being honest and what I have to say about my YYGS experience is nothing but that."

BBS 2016
Nuhamin Tekle
Ethiopia

I am not good at writing pieces of literature that bring tears to my readers eyes but I am good at being honest and what I have to say about my YYGS experience is nothing but that.

The fact that the program takes place in the magnificent Yale is a testimony on its own. So I will refrain from the topic of the academics but focus on the feature that left an everlasting effect on me - the instantaneous belonging I felt.

The fear of being a pariah in the great Yale University didn’t bubble to the surface till I took my seat on the plane to JFK. Busy filling the requirement for the application I didn’t give place to my fear of being rejected. Although that fear was crippling I couldn’t let it limit me from at least applying. Passing up such a great opportunity for something as trivial as that wasn’t an option. Even after I got the acceptance letter I was too caught up in the visa application and completing the reading materials that I gave it no thought.

But once everything was over and done and all I had to do was sit, relax and wait for the plane to land, my fear started more than just tickling my brain. It consumed my thoughts. It became all I could think of.

What if I wasn’t smart enough or funny enough? What if the English I have known just escapes me? What if I have an undesirable personality? (After all it is my first time associating with teens from all over the world).

If it wasn’t for my set return flight, I would have got my luggage, bought the next available ticket back home and just fled. But thankfully I didn’t.

Ironically, as these thoughts haunted me relentlessly I kept busy texting if anyone in the session I had chosen had arrived in the same time as I did. Making good use of our session’s group chat, I was asking if anyone knew of transportation means by which I wouldn’t be alone in for 2 hours. It surprised me how I was quick to categorize my fellow YYGS participants as friends over the other hundreds that flooded the JFK airport. I had almost immediately trusted the people I had exchanged a few group messages with.

With an unexpected rendezvous right there at the airport and in the shuttle to Yale, followed by the curt introductions exchanged with both the YYGS team and alumni, my cynics slowly faded away till it was nothing more than a mere insecurity.

I knew subconsciously that if there were ever to be a group of people that resembled me and stood for the ideas and principles I love and respect those would be them. I took the comfortable silence we had in between our introduction to simply watch the smile on their faces, the same smile reflected on mine and realized I was there for more than just an academic experience I was there to make friends.

Friends who sit with you in the great dining halls, friends who go to Insomnia for late sugar cravings, friends that run to the lecture halls with you, friends that run back from the lecture halls with you too, friends you can talk about scientific discovery this minute and normal teen talks the next. But moreover friends that get what you mean, ones that laugh at your smart jokes, ones who understand your references, ones who don’t see you as a freak but the passionate you are and ones you will miss even though your stay was short. Just like them. I was home. I belonged.

So if you want to feel an immediate belonging I suggest you start applying today and don’t let the fear of being rejected hold you back. I’m glad I took this journey. I mean what other program (non-social media related) provides you with the chance to make 200+ friends in just 2 weeks?

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