But I never really considered or took the time to understand the meaning of the cliché, but very true quote, until attending my three-week summer program at Yale University.

Like every other program I have attended, during the first few days, I hated it. I was counting down the days left until the end of the program. This is a recurring pattern for me because it takes me a while to open up to people, and get used to a new environment. After those few uncomfortable days the program became more enjoyable.

My course on leadership development was always the most thought-provoking part of the day. We discussed everything from stereotypes we, as a society place on certain social groups, to societal issues that are occurring and actions that we as students can take to resolve them. In each class, I gained new insight on the political status of various countries, the extent to which religion plays a role in education and the lifestyles students my age in various other countries live. Overall, one of the most valuable things I gained during this program was a cultural awareness. I was enlightened on the customs, values, and lifestyles of people from places like Russia, Croatia, Spain and China. Additionally, a beneficial aspect of the course was learning how my peers viewed me as a leader and their descriptions of my strengths and weaknesses.

One of the main goals of the program as to create a non-profit organization for a global issue we felt passionate about. I chose to create a project that enabled girls in the country of Chad, Africa to receive access to primary education. Our idea and campaign slogan was “education has non sex” underlying the fact that males should not be valued more and given an opportunity to access education while females are subjugated to stereotypical “female roles” with less than half the female population continuing to a secondary level of education. We then had to present our campaign idea, which was to raise money in order to build a school in Chad, in front of an audience and press. That facet of the program was very useful, being that it allowed me to face my fear of public speaking, and hopefully eliminated that fear permanently.

The most rewarding part of this trip was being around intelligent and driven young adults who are all passionate about social change. They recognize the various issues that are occurring and are determined to use their talents to change the world. It was very inspiring and eye opening because it helped me realize that I must to stop doing what is expected of me but start pursuing what I am passionate about in order to genuinely and effectively have an impact in this society.

Attending my summer program at Yale enlightened me on the meaning of the quote. I have learned to stop solely focusing on my “destination” which for me was completing high school and partaking in activities that only geared toward that goal, but taking from and finding joy in every experience I am granted, every person I encounter and every situation I am faced with while getting there, because the lessons come from the journey, not the destination.

Sincerely, Toshe, Junior
Attended Yale Summer Program