Nineteen Yale-NUS students traded in 90-degree weather for New Haven’s bitter chill, at Yale for a week to compare life at the University to operations at their fledgling college in Singapore.
The primary focus of their trip, which ends Friday morning, is to discover opportunities for expanding their school’s extracurricular organizations, though they are also spending time in classes and at faculty events. Kel Ginsberg, acting director of the New Haven Office for Planning and Development for Yale-NUS College, said the students are all leaders from a myriad of extracurricular organizations at Yale-NUS. They are athletes, singers, actors, journalists and activists.
But some worry that the dizzying pace of life at Yale — along with the frigid temperature — will impede interactions.
“I’m really nervous about the cold,” Kevin Low YNUS ’17 said. “In our tropical country temperatures never drop below 25 degrees Celsius. I’m also worried that people are too busy to sit down and chat; I understand this is midterms week and everyone’s frantically studying.”
The students, who arrived on campus on Saturday, are in New Haven during their midterm break. Because Yale College students are currently in session, Ginsberg said, this week is a convenient time for Yale and Yale-NUS students to meet face-to-face to share ideas. In particular, students from both schools will discuss how to enhance extracurricular organizations, comparing groups that are in their infancy at Yale-NUS to Yale organizations, some of which have existed for decades.
In addition to meeting Yale students with extracurricular backgrounds similar to their own, the students are also going to classes and meetings with faculty members, Ginsberg said. She also said Yale-NUS students are staying in dorms for part of their visit — Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights — to experience residential life at Yale. In this way, Ginsberg said, the trip is intended to give the Yale-NUS visitors a holistic idea of Yale student life.
Lucy Wang ’17, who is hosting a Yale-NUS student this week, said she found out about the opportunity through an email from Morse College Master Amy Hungerford. Wang said that Yale students acting as hosts have been given resources to make Yale-NUS students feel comfortable while on campus — for instance, they were even given a $30 “entertainment fund” to accommodate their guests.
Dave Chappell YNUS ’18 — a member of Yale-NUS’s student newspaper, the Octant, and a representative on Yale-NUS’s newly elected student government — said he plans to spend time learning about undergraduate publications at Yale and the Yale College Council. Chappell said he is also using the opportunity to conduct some interviews with faculty members for articles he will write for the Octant when he returns to Singapore.
Low, who came to Yale representing Yale-NUS’s improv theater group, Conglomerate, said he plans to meet with members of various Yale improv groups, including Just Add Water, the Ex!t Players and the Purple Crayon. He said he is also looking forward to meeting with members of Lux Improvitas, which is one of Yale’s newest improv groups, to compare stories about participating in young comedy troupes.
“Improv isn’t a very big thing in Singapore, and it’s great to finally come into contact with people who are in the business and who get what improv is about,” Low said.
Ginsberg said planning for the visit began in earnest in November 2014. She said that while the visit augurs further collaboration between students at Yale and at Yale-NUS, it is unclear if a visit of this exact form will be repeated in future years.
“Keeping the two institutions connected is a priority, so ways to do that will always be considered,” she said.
There are 36 recognized student organizations at Yale-NUS, compared to roughly 310 at Yale.