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My First Ever Virtual Summer Program Experience
Written by Ashley Minju Song | Published. 2020.09.28 15:04 | Count : 149

In early 2020, most of the summer programs that I have applied to during the winter holidays announced their application status. As a student with a passion for theatre, I applied to numerous summer programs related to theatre or media. Fortunately, I was accepted to the programs that I applied for. Though I was thrilled upon my acceptance, I was, on the other hand, worried about the program getting canceled as COVID-19 cases were rapidly increasing around the world during that time. After I was admitted, I had to decide which program to take part in over the summer since it was not possible to enroll in all of the programs. Although I was given the time to think through to decide, in the middle of that process, I received updates to the programs. Some programs were canceled as the institutions had to determine whether the program could be offered online. Other programs decided to change some logistics by changing their summer program to a virtual summer program. Upon hearing about these changes, I made the decision to enroll in Yale Young Global Scholars (YYGS Connect) that offered a virtual program for Summer 2020 to experience an area where I had no prior experience in.

[Photo of my virtual summer program schedule. Photo Credit: Ashley Minju Song]

Before starting my program, I was worried about whether or not I would be able to fully enjoy my summer program experience. At the same time, I was excited to meet and interact with new people online, in a different setting. Although I have been continuing distance learning for school since February, learning with those who I already knew and those who I had never met was a totally different experience. Meeting people that I never met online and working together as a group was something that I hadn’t imagined before and was an area with no personal experience. On July 26th, the program began with an orientation session, just like any other event. During the orientation session, all students were notified about the logistics and rules that they had to follow in each lecture and seminar. Additionally, we were informed about how hard the program managers have prepared for the virtual program so that it would be as effective as an on-campus program. During this time, I had the opportunity to meet my fellow students who were participating in the same seminar as me and my family group. I was fascinated to see such a diverse group of people and I was glad to be a part of this community. 

As I began the program, the first group of students I met was my assigned family. We had “family time”, which was similar to an advisory session at school. Beginning with ice-breaker activities to discussing our academic, personal, and long-term goals, all of us had a chance to learn from each other, as we all came from different backgrounds and environments. 

[Photo from my family time. Photo Credit: Ashley Minju Song]

Besides family time, participating in various lectures presented by famous professors from Yale University was another aspect that I had looked forward to, since I could see how current college students are learning in a virtual environment. Although some lectures were on topics where I had no background knowledge, I had a chance to learn about areas where I usually don’t learn in-depth. The new topics that I discovered through this program included how researchers are looking at animals to trace the development of a virus, specifically for COVID-19, and how political systems impact the economy, which was presented by my fellow YYGS students. Moreover, during the program, I chose to participate in a seminar called “What is Avant-garde?”. Although avant-garde was a term that I have heard ever since I was young, I haven’t had the opportunity to learn this idea. Throughout the seminar, we participated in various activities with my peers such as drawing, reading scripts, listening to numerous audios in order to re-define what Avant-garde is. At the end of the program, I was able to get a better grasp of what Avant-garde is and how this idea can be seen in our everyday life. Furthermore, it was interesting how, no matter where we came from, the peers I met through my program shared similar academic and personal problems. 

The only aspect that would have made my experience better would be being able to meet these fascinating individuals in real life. It was an unbelievable experience since I thought the virtual summer program would be chaotic and less effective. Yet, it was well-organized and allowed each student to learn more in-depth about the areas that they are passionate about. Even during these challenging times where the world is suffering from COVID-19, this virtual program was a chance for me to learn how we can make the best out of the worst situation in life.


Ashley Minju Song
Senior (Grade 12)
Chadwick International

Ashley Minju Song  student_reporter@dherald.com

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