"Science makes our world a better place, and [YYGS] ignited a spark in me that thrives to explore and augment our knowledge in science."

2017 ASE
Sedra from Saudi Arabia

9:40 PM, July 22, 2017
JFK Airport

“Please, fasten your seat belts. We’re preparing for take-off.”

The middle seat. The worst seat one can sit in during a 7-hour flight. Squashed between a fat, old man and a muscly, french guy (albeit, exceptionally handsome), I knew that I was about to endure the worst flight of my life.

Mind you, I was already emotionally unstable.

But, that wasn’t enough.

So, now I gotta be physically constrained, too.


9:45 PM

“Cabin crew, please take your seats for take-off.”

My body was in absolute harmony with the airplane. As it accelerated down the runway, my heartbeat rushed to keep up with the speed. My nails dug half moons into the flesh of my palm.

Cause too bad both handles were seized.

With each roar of an engine, the lump in my throat grew bigger and bigger.

Deep breath in.

Breath out.

Deep breath i—

The plane soared.

The water dam broke.

And I was a teary, emotional mess in a middle airplane seat on a 7-hour flight.


10:15 PM

“Ladies and gentlemen, the Captain has turned off the fasten seat belt sign and you may move around the cabin.”

I lifted my head up, rested it against the head rest, took a deep breath and closed my eyes.

Not like I had any other choice.

But just as quickly as fat guy started snoring, the flashbacks attacked my mind and took over, playing one after the other, consuming me into the past.

July 9, Branford College

“….Okay! We’re gonna start off by introducing ourselves, and then we can play a couple of ice breakers.”

As our family leader said those words, excitation radiated off of me, though my introvert self was kind of freaking out. I was looking forward to breaking my wall of shyness, meeting new people and befriending them.

But my nerves? I couldn’t, for the life of me, control them.

“…I’m from Albania, and I’m a rising senior.”

Global scholars it is.

My turn.

“Hi, my name is Sedra. I’m Syrian, but I live in Saudi Arabia—Oh, and I’m a rising junior.”

And there we go, the first step of a milestone.

July 13, 493 College St.
Discussion Group

Ah, the discussion section, one of my favourite parts of the program, and the place where I learned the most. Here, we, a group of 15 individuals, raised questions about the lecture we took, and discussed said questions.

“Can robots be applied to game design?”

With each question, my knowledge and perception of the world broadened. I held on to every little detail uttered, filling my brain up with new details of every aspect of STEM.

“Can personality be stimulated?”

Yeah, it tends to get ethical sometimes.

During these discussion sections, I learned that science is a galaxy with billions of stars, and we’ve got to dive in and explore, cause each individual star is going to open up a world of opportunities to us, and when we think we hit the top, we realize that we barely scratched the surface.

Science makes our world a better place, and this program ignited a spark in me that thrives to explore and augment our knowledge in science.

July 15, Branford College basement


It’s that time of the year where people become a year closer to dying.

It was my birthday.

And never in a million years would I have thought that I was going to celebrate my 16th birthday in the US, at Yale University, with people that I met barely a week ago.

But, here I am.

We laughed our hearts out, sang to music, ate pizza, hugged and had the times of our lives, as if we knew each other since forever. That’s how strong our bonds were.

So, these people? They’re my family, now. A family that stretches to every corner of the globe. 7/15/16 will be a date deeply engraved in my heart, laced with wonderful memories for eternity. Birthdays are no longer a date where I become closer to death.


They’re days where I expect the unexpected.

July 20, Branford Courtyard

“So, I was thinking that we could start a program back home, where we inform the students about YYGS, of course, and any other summer programs that might benefit them…..”

Yeah, a guy from my school got accepted, too.

Shout out to Al-Oruba School! Woohoo!

As we further discussed the details of what we’re going to do once we get back home, a dimmed flame reignited inside of me. For an extensive amount of time, I had the desire to start my own website, dedicated to college preparation and opportunities that may not be known to everyone around the globe.

With the diverse and wide network of people that the program provided me, I received the push I needed to start. Partnering up with my best friend, we’ve been working hard to launch the website as soon as possible.

So, look out for that! (Shameless plug.)

“—ve just been cleared to land. Please make sure one last time that your seat belt is securely fastened.”

This is it.

The best two weeks of my life just ended.

It’s time to put all that I’ve gained into use, and kick this world’s—“ Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to King Khaled International Airport.”

Home sweet home.

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