“I met people from all around the world and experienced such a culturally diverse community with students who were all very academically inclined.”

2017 SDSE
Anna from Nebraska

YYGS Experience of a Lifetime!

My name is Anna Kotula, a rising high school junior from Omaha, Nebraska. This summer, I had the opportunity to have the experience of a lifetime in the first YYGS session called Sustainable Development Social Entrepreneurship (SDSE). Those two weeks I spent at Yale’s campus were by far the best two weeks of my life. I had the opportunity to be immersed in many cultures and was able to learn about the problems affecting our society today. 

To get to Yale, I flew from Omaha to Minneapolis, then Minneapolis to Hartford, followed by a car ride of 45 minutes to New Haven. On the first day, when I checked into Saybrook College, I was greeted by nice instructors who helped me take my luggage to the fourth floor. After taking the twisting staircase up to my room in entryway C, I settled into my room then went out into our suite’s common room to meet my roommates. My roommates were from California, Philadelphia, Vietnam, China, and New York, which I was so excited about. I like to meet people from different cultures and countries. Just from stepping foot into the campus and from reading the lectures and seminars that were in store for me, I thought that two weeks wouldn’t be enough to explore all that was offered. With that, I was proven wrong because each seminar we learned and were allowed to ask questions, each lecture we listened then actively responded with questions, during the simulation we all had a position to defend, and during the capstone project, we had time to research and sort out our ideas. Every class or lecture I went to, opened my mind immensely and provided me with a great insight into our world today. Every fact I learned, every Instagram I followed, every person I smiled at on campus, and every question I answered are now memories that will be with me for eternity.

When I first applied to YYGS, I knew that the program would provide a challenge and have many other ambitious students, like myself, who want to succeed and make a difference in the world. Personally, I thought that the program would be extremely competitive. As soon as I got onto campus, I learned that the program was rather collaborative. Everyone there had the same goals to be successful, to make a lasting impact on their communities. Additionally, I was lucky to be surrounded by other academically stimulated kids. They were coming from different cultural backgrounds and different geographic locations. 

My favorite seminar was my very first one, which was about Marxism and capitalism. We had such an engaging conversation, that our group ended up staying forty-five minutes past the allotted time. I found that so inspiring that kids would stay past a scheduled time to keep learning. Most of my friends would not stay an extra few minutes to hear more of a speech. The seminar was so intriguing, inspiring, and let me delve deeper into who Marx really was. Our history books talk about Marx, but not in a way that our seminar leader did. John, our leader, made the topic so interesting that the kids in my class felt compelled to stay. 

Every morning, there was a lecture from an established expert of the world. The speaker would talk for an hour and a half, then allow for questions. From hearing the speaker’s point of view, that allowed us in our discussion sections to present conflicting views, talk about the ideas presented, and come forth with our point of view on the subject. Our instructors in our seminar groups were more like friends because they understood our views, respected our wishes, and of course, interacted with us in a personable way. 

One time that I looked forward to almost everyday was family time. Family time started on the first night and this allowed us to find friends instantly. My family got especially close on the first night because we all were open to each other’s activities, hopes and dreams, and to making new long lasting friendships. To put that into prospective, one of my now best friends lives in London, England; the distance between us can be measured in thousands of miles, but our friendship is just inches apart. 

I am forever grateful for YYGS because it helped open my eyes to concepts that I really hadn’t talked about before. The range of topics was immense, i.e. from playing mafia in the courtyard, going out for ice cream after capstone, playing tennis on the lawn, and laughing hysterically from Watson to Saybrook.  The experiences are so special and will forever reside in my heart. The two weeks went by fast, but gave me an insight into college life, a rigorous course load, and new concepts that I want to help change. Most importantly, I have new friends to help me to solve the problems of the World.

Signing off

An honored YYGS Alumna!


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