Since its inception in the spring of 2002, the World Fellows Program has attracted a range of future world leaders, from an Iraqi surgeon to a member of the South African Parliament. With some minor changes in the program, Yale undergraduates will now have greater access to the fellows.
While the program’s primary goal of cultivating world leaders has remained the same, World Fellows Program Director and Law School professor Dan Esty said there has been more of an emphasis on interaction with Yale College. In addition to taking classes with undergraduates, each of the 18 fellows has been assigned to a residential college, where they live and eat meals with the students. The program has also planned a Yale World Fellows Night for Oct. 2, where undergraduates will be able to attend panel discussions on world issues and attend a wine tasting session.
“We want to ensure that the Fellows program becomes a focal point for broadening the discussion of international issues at Yale, especially among the undergraduates,” Esty said.
The program’s outreach director, Ben Lumpkin, said the fellows’ interactions with students in the residential colleges have been limited thus far because of the strike, which ended Sept. 18. Now that the dining halls are open, Lumpkin said he hopes the fellows will eat their meals with students while discussing current international issues.
“Many of the fellows have arranged for formal meetings with students, such as speaking at Master’s Teas within their residential colleges,” Lumpkin said. “But it is my hope that the fellows will interact with students in a more informal manner.”
Fellow Raenette Taljaard — an affiliate of Berkeley College and, at 31, the youngest member of the South African Parliament — has done just that. Taljaard is currently enrolled in two courses where debate is an integral part of the curriculum.
“My interactions with students during [these classes] have been highly stimulating,” Taljaard said. “The students here are very political, and the level of debate has been quite high.”
Taljaard emphasized that these interactions have not been unilateral; through her exposure to politically active American youths and her classes at Yale, Taljaard said she has learned a lot.
“These courses have provided me with a very interesting bird’s eye view of American concerns and issues,” Taljaard said. “It has opened a window to a very complex society.”
Ali Sindi, a fellow from Iraqi Kurdistan and an affiliate of Pierson College, has also endeavored to interact with Yale students on a more intimate level. Sindi, a surgeon who was appointed Deputy Minister of Health and Social Affairs for Iraqi Kurdistan in 1996, said he would like to inform students of the reality of Iraq’s present condition.
“I find that students’ views of Iraq are vague, because they have been largely misinformed by the media and because of Iraq’s post-war isolation,” Sindi said. “I was in Iraq throughout the war and I left only two months ago, so I feel that I have a lot of information to offer to students.”
Sindi has arranged talks at the New Haven Public Library, the Yale School of Medicine and the Yale School of Nursing, where he will detail his own perceptions of the war against Iraq and the country’s current health policies. In addition, he is scheduled to speak at a Pierson Master’s Tea Oct. 7.
Esty said he is looking forward to World Fellows Night on Oct. 2, which will feature panel discussions on human rights, the economics of globalization, and the European Union 10 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
“World Fellows Night will be a great opportunity for the fellows to introduce themselves to Yale students and share their perceptions of world events,” Esty said. “It should be educational and entertaining for all involved.”