The Yale Ivy Scholars Program was an academic experience like no other. I had the incredible opportunity of studying at one of the world’s greatest learning institutions and thriving alongside some of the world’s brightest youth.
We were thrust into the rigor of the program our first night in, and it only intensified as the days passed.
Our first lecture was delivered by Victor Cha, Director of Asian Affairs in the White House’s NSC. He opened with his typical daily schedule, which was compounded with strict deadlines and events corner after corner. In retrospect, almost every individual we had the honor of hearing from lived by such a schedule. Perhaps this sense of responsibility and commitment is what the program intended to force upon us with our own packed schedule – lectures commenced in the morning, followed by seminars, more lectures, movie and discussions, workshops, and so on, finally concluding some time in the late evening.
Consequently, sleep was not to be had. At times, rest was so cherished that meals were skipped to allocate time to reenergize. We were worked hard and expected to perform at a top level constantly.
The lectures we attended were unlike any that I have ever experienced before, taught by some of the greatest minds in the country. I learned about such a broad range of topics that all seemed to tie back to one another at the top, from the European debt crisis, to identity politics, and so on. Even more intriguing were the question & answer sessions that followed each time – my peers engaged the entire room with their insightful questions that at times even caught our teacher off guard. I may have learned just as much from my wonderful counterparts.
Seminars were scattered throughout the week – these were essentially more engaging lectures that consisted of smaller groups of ten to twenty students. The instructors were incredibly accomplished individuals and were very keen on covering a substantial amount of material in roughly an hour and a half. The seminars were very discussion-based, which provided a learning environment that I was not acquainted with before. Instead of simply taking notes and listening to what lessons were being taught, students were called upon to offer their viewpoints, and, thus, vibrant discussion ensued. I enjoyed this setting, and I realized that this was the type of environment that I wanted to be learning in during my college years. Smaller class sizes do in fact impact the quality of education, and I was able to learn this first-hand.
When Marshall Briefs rolled around, efforts were poured into developing the best policy towards our respective topics. My group’s topic was the Future of Foreign Policy Regarding Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India. The members in my group helped each other through the project, and worked incessantly. We met for every meal of the day, and whatever free time we had for leisure was spent working on the Brief.
The entire YISP experience can hardly be summed up in one blog post, nor can it be perfectly translated into words. If I had to condense it into a single word – which I have had to do when sharing my thoughts on the program and not wanting to spend hours after hours describing its wonder -, it would simply be “amazing.”