A Yale student, Aaron Gertler, contacted me to conduct a little email interview for a post about Yale-NUS on the Yale Herald. I spent 3 hours on it and wrote a 3-page-long response and he kinda like published two sentences and the Pokemon mention, so in order not to waste the rest of my interview, I shall put it up here!
1) Why attend Yale-NUS? Was it your first choice? What do you plan to study?
Yale-NUS wasn't my first choice initially, but after meeting getting to know the students, staff and faculty, I realized that I had been given the chance to be a part of something phenomenal. I was intrigued by the curriculum, a liberal arts model redesigned to fit the 21st century and a world where East and West come together in every possible way, in almost every issue and discipline, such that they shouldn't be discussed in isolation from one another anymore. However, what made me decide firmly on Yale-NUS was the students.
The students are bold and creative - you've got to be the kind who likes taking risks and trying out new things to want to be a part of Yale-NUS in the first place! Here, I met students who had started their own companies that dealt with anything ranging from IT consulting services to student leadership workshops; students who were traveling to places like Ghana, Brazil and the slums of India for months on their own; students who designed and made their own board games, swimwear, iPhone speakers without any electronic parts – you name it! Here, I met people who had amazing ideas and made them come alive. It's this innovative and active streak that will make a brand new college flourish. We've already got a ton of ideas for activities at Yale-NUS, and our own students are already planning our Orientation program and working with the Deans and office departments as student interns. While this pioneering project comes with hesitations and risks, the passionate and action-taking nature of the student body is the biggest factor that will lead to a successful college with a vibrant culture.
The people here are also inquisitive. More than being absorbed in their own field of interest, they love to hear from others who are passionate about other fields. We've got the state swimmer who loves art history, the president of a China Studies club who's a walking encyclopedia of American politics, and the IT diploma holder who is planning to major in Psychology and do a Master's in guitar performance. Put us all in a room for a couple of hours and the ideas we come up with are mind-blowing. The international students were also excited about getting as authentic a Singaporean experience as possible – even when they were dying of jet lag, they wanted to get 'the most Singaporean dish' and explore the nooks and crannies of Little India. With an incredibly diverse student body – whether in nationalities, beliefs and denominations, family backgrounds, values, academic interests or types of schools – each of us has something so different to offer, and getting a taste of a different perspective and culture is always fascinating. We have so much to learn from one another, but more importantly, we love to learn. While I was initially a little apprehensive about Yale-NUS, the types of people I met here and the qualities of the students told me that this couldn't fail. With the level of curiosity, passion and courage, a brand new college like this can't help but succeed.
I plan to major in Literature or Anthropology. I love how a single phrase is able to encompass a whole maze of ideas, and the beauty and intricacy of words always amaze me. On the other hand, my interest in anthropology is a rather newfound one, but I'm fascinated with learning about why we behave and think the way we do, and how social classes, gender roles and religion developed and have evolved. Like other Liberal Arts students, I also have a huge range of other academic interests that I hope to explore at the undergraduate level, like Biology, History, African studies and religious studies. I also have a huge interest in linguistics, I'm currently enrolled in theology school, and my one lifelong passion lies in writing. I firmly believe that the diversity of the educational experience at Yale-NUS will help us see the world through more informed lenses, and create a colorful, rich and wide base for our own fields of interest.