"I loved everything about it: the discussion, explanation, engagement, and activities. But what I loved even more was that my seminars really reflected my passions and interests."

FST 2018
Amer from Egypt

Traveling alone for the first time, I was so curious about this new YYGS experience that I had never imagined, but this curiosity wasn’t pure: it was mixed with inevitable concerns, “Is two weeks long enough? What can somebody gain in two weeks? Will I be able to socialize? Is it worth the effort...?” All these worries, fighting non-stop inside my head, made my 13-hour flight from Cairo even more tiring.

Fortunately, all of these unreasonable concerns vanished when I attended my first seminar about computational complexity and the limitations of computers. It was a whole new experience for me to see all of my fellow peers share the same dedication and concentration. All of them wanted to know more, but, to do so, they would collaborate rather than compete. I loved everything about it: the discussion, explanation, engagement, and activities. But what I loved even more was that my seminars really reflected my passions and interests.

All of YYGS students have 8 seminars, but mine were simply extraordinary. I had 4 of them with the same instructor, “Zach,” as he loved to be called. All of them were about problem solving and mathematical models, but what was special was that I would attend 4 seminars with the same instructor and I would STILL be curious to discuss and propose solutions; that is the beauty of YYGS. I remember the big theatre problem in the “recursion” seminar when we were asked to propose a method to count people in the theatre with recursion. I enjoyed applying Zach’s simple approach in reality after explaining mine and seeing how he managed to simplify matters to help us understand the content.

If seminars are the place to explore your own interests, lectures are where you can actually discover new interests. YYGS offered great lectures, on topics ranging from stem cells to the law-technology relationship. They gave us a sense of what a university life was like; it was amazing to hear from Yale professors about new inventions and technologies. What was even more interesting for me was how professors were enthusiastically explaining things they have learned by heart. I still remember Professor “Brian” and his research in robotics: how he managed to use robots to help children with autism. His presentation was outstanding, filled with children-robot interaction photos that touched our hearts. He managed to tell us that each one has a message that he should pursue to reach self-satisfaction and actually influence others’ lives.

My travel from Egypt was supposed to go the United States, but surprisingly it was also to Mars. Before I went, I had known that we are going to do some sort of simulation, but the YYGS staff kept it vague, and what a surprise! We were divided into 3 timelines, where each timeline was divided into groups, collaborating to compete against the other timelines. The rules were simple: the timeline that manages to solve the problems of living on Mars wins. I was in timeline 2 and in the basic science group; it was wonderful that they let us organize ourselves into groups to meet the deadlines of tasks. I loved the task of irrigation automation as I managed to share my experience in electronics with the group to make a new circuit that irrigates planets automatically. We were actually the only timeline who managed to complete this task, and also the winning one. What was more important than winning was the quality memes we shared on Tumblr that I continue looking at until today.

The simulation wasn’t the end of the fun: here, I should mention my beloved YYGS family with whom we took rest from all academic activities and enjoyed a time of amusement and cultural exchange. Finally, I realized that two weeks was never long enough for my satisfaction, but it was certainly long enough to change my mindset and encourage me to apply for universities in the U.S. this fall to get many more experiences of those "two awesome weeks." I am really grateful to the Young Leaders scholarship that made all of that possible. If you have any doubt about YYGS, as I was, truly, you shouldn’t. Go and apply! If not for the lectures, then for the people. I promise you will make lifelong friends.

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