Despite their exhaustion and jet lag after long flights from Singapore to the U.S., a delegation of Yale-NUS students navigated packed schedules of meetings with their Yale peers to compare notes on student clubs.
In a continued effort to boost exchanges between student organizations at Yale and Yale-NUS, the Singaporean institution, for the second year in a row, sent its student leaders to New Haven for a weeklong trip. The Yale-NUS delegation, which was at Yale from Feb. 20 to 26, consisted of 19 students and seven staff members, including two rectors — the equivalent of Yale’s residential college masters — from Yale-NUS residential colleges as well as dean’s fellows, many of whom recently graduated from Yale. According to Sarah Weiss, rector of Saga College at Yale-NUS, the delegation featured student representatives from eight Yale-NUS student clubs.
“Our students have learned much in their short time at Yale. They have also shared an enormous amount about their own worlds,” Weiss said after the visit.
Weiss added that while some ideas from the trip could be implemented directly at Yale-NUS, many more ideas inspired by this trip will be crafted to suit the young college’s unique environment.
Meredith Jett YNUS ’18 said that although Yale and Yale-NUS differ in the sizes of their student organizations and the sheer number of clubs available to join, many management skills are transferable. Jett, a member of the Residential College Advisory Committee and the Yale-NUS Student Government, said that through her role, she hopes to bring back a more concrete picture of what Yale-NUS and her residential college, Cendana, can become in the future.
Jett added that as students settled into their residential colleges on Yale-NUS’ new campus last fall, many questions about building communities, establishing traditions and forming college identities arose. Because Yale has already laid the groundwork after 300 years, Yalies could be a rich resource for Yale-NUS students in forming new traditions and identity, Jett added.
During her weeklong stay, Jett arranged meetings with the Yale College Council and various residential college councils. She also met with representatives from the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs and student consultants for campus organizations.
Yale-NUS students interviewed said despite the immediate differences between Yale and Yale-NUS, the two schools are very similar in terms of culture and values, and therefore ideas gained here can be transferred.
Francesca Maviglia YNUS ’19 said students at both institutions face similar challenges related to student activism. She added that by learning about what student activists are doing at Yale, she hopes to brainstorm what Yale-NUS students can do on their own turf. As a representative from the G Spot — the Yale-NUS’ main student group raising awareness on issues of gender, sexuality and feminism — Maviglia met with people from the Office of LGBTQ Resources, the Yale Women’s Center and Communication and Consent Educators. She also met with history professor George Chauncey GRD ’89, who teaches a popular lecture on U.S. lesbian and gay history.
Other Yale-NUS student leaders hoped to learn about recruiting new members and managing membership transition, tasks they will be confronted with when a large number of the college’s junior class studies abroad and before the school’s inaugural class graduates next year. More than 70 students of the school’s student body, which sits at around 500, are studying abroad this semester.
A representative from Singer’s Guild — a Yale-NUS umbrella group for singing organizations and the counterpart to the Yale Singing Group Council — Abhinav Natarajan YNUS ’18 said he wanted to learn about the audition process for a cappella groups at Yale, how to organize warmup sessions during trainings, how to raise funds and plan world tours. Natarajan attended a rehearsal of the Yale Alley Cats, one of Yale’s all-male, undergraduate singing group at Yale.
Isaac Lee YNUS ’19 hoped to gain similar ideas for his ballroom dance club. He said that due to the impending graduation of the college’s inaugural class and the absence of juniors studying abroad, the Yale-NUS ballroom dance club is at a critical transition moment and faces a question of “to survive or fall.” Lee added that he hopes to bring back the Yale Ballroom Dance Team’s peer-to-peer teaching system, as well as its separation of competition practice from group practice, which he said will encourage more people to join.
Still, Maviglia said students at Yale and Yale-NUS might face different challenges in managing clubs. Yalies might face the “weight of traditions” and ask “what they want to change,” while the question for Yale-NUS students is “what they want to create.”
According to Weiss, in addition to individual meetings, the visiting students also had group meetings with the Office of Gender and Campus Culture, the Chaplain’s Office, the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs and the Asian American Cultural Center, among others.