Yonatan Gazit, May Tay
Photo used with permission from Tan Weiliang
Week Seven at Yale-NUS started with the Class of 2018 dispersing over parts of the globe for their Learning Across Boundaries (LABs) trips, with some starting over the middle of Fall Recess Week and the last one ending on Friday, Oct. 3. The trips were organized by the Center for International and Professional Experiences (CIPE), and there were 10 LABs in total: three in Singapore, three in Europe, and four in South East Asia.
The purpose of the LABs, according to Dean of The Center for International & Professional Experience Anastasia Vrachnos, is to, “[take] a collective pause from the curriculum, and send every freshman out in these small groups with faculty to learn different things in different ways in a different setting and then bring it back to the community, and have a symposium of shared learning,” she said. “It works well because its a complement to what’s happening in the common curriculum.”
According to Ritika Biswas ’18, who went on the Vienna trip, the trip’s experiential learning is what made it so memorable. “Being able to talk to Professor Rosenberg about Beethoven’s 3rd Symphony while actually walking around his summer house and Beethoven’s house is something I’m never going to forget,” she said.
The trip to India had a unique added dimension of learning, since it coincided with political events within the country. “We were in Mamallapuram when the protestors against an alleged corruption case of the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu marched past us. Additionally, Modi made a groundbreaking speech in [New York City] while we were in India,” Gordon Goh ’18 said. “The current affairs pertaining to India also set us thinking about contemporary issues as we go on learning about the country [during the week].”
The trips allowed students to get a feel for an intellectual experience outside the classroom. “We got exposure to many people in many situations,” Thu Truong ’18, who was on the Love Inc. trip in Singapore, said. “You can actually see how [theories] work in real life. It’s like everything comes into 3D, instead of 2D.”
The LABs’ budget, according to Gin Ong ’18, who went on the London art trip, is well worth the experiential learning. “There really are certain aspects of art that one can only learn in London,” she said. “One example would be the process of dérive, which would require one to be physically in the city to experience.”
Agreeing with Ong, Goh said that, “The best way to justify the money spent would be to showcase and share about the things that we have learnt in Week 7, [and] the Week 7 Symposium is the perfect platform for this.”
Trips that were further away, such as the ones in Europe, required a co-pay. “Obviously if you are flying to Indonesia, it’s gonna be a lot easier than flying to Greece,” Dean Vrachnos said. “We try to make allowances for that or equalize that in that trips that are much more costly often have a co-pay.”
Still, Vrachnos said CIPE works hard to keep the LABs low-cost. “It’s actually not a huge part of CIPE’s budget relative to, for example, the things we support in the summer, which includes a lot of language scholarships and opportunities to study at Yale and other things,” she said. “I actually think that as a value for money proposition, week seven is one of the best things going at the college.”
The exact location and aim of each trip can be found on CIPE’s website (http://cipe.yale-nus.edu.sg).