International Perspectives

December 5, 2014

International Perspectives is a series spotlighting international students from across Yale’s schools and departments, who share inspiring moments and unexpected ways their passion for learning has been ignited at Yale.

Abhijoy Mitra, Yale College ’17, India
At Yale, you can find ways to pursue the things that are most meaningful to you, no matter how specialized or unique your interests. You can find peers to tree-climb with, or resources and professors who will help you start your own company. It’s not about competing with others—it is about finding your own path and making your experience whatever you want it to be.”

Peter Umunay, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies ’19, Democratic Republic of the Congo
“There are remarkable human and financial resources here and facilities available to students from everywhere in the world. Graduate students like me have access to research and international conference funds, faculty members from different departments, and research and teaching centers across campus. For a student like me from Africa and DRC, I am thankful to be here.”

Bárbara Santiago, Yale College ’17, Brazil
“At Yale, there is a lot of opportunity to learn by doing. Professors are very approachable, hands-on, and supportive of collaboration and research. I was happy that I could become involved with one of their projects and engage in research even as a freshman! Outside of the academic setting, extracurricular activities allow you to gain new practical skills. You can learn how to organize a conference or write for a publication for the first time. From working on projects at the Center for Engineering Innovation and Design with friends to being Vice-President of the Brazil Club at Yale, or even simply engaging with my residential college community, I’ve loved being involved in and learning through diverse activities.”

Shayari De Silva, School of Architecture ’16, Sri Lanka
“I first confirmed my interest in Architecture through a summer course I took studying abroad in the Yale-in-London program. I’m now a graduate student at the School of Architecture. I’m inspired by the supportive, friendly atmosphere of the school and the social environment that builds a strong bond between everyone here.”

Kenza Bouhaj, Yale College ’16, Morocco
“I’m a junior in Ezra Stiles College, President of the Arab Students Association, and a former leader of Hemispheres, a high school outreach program of the Yale International Relations Association. I’m inspired by guest speakers who come to Yale to share stories of how they made it—especially when I can relate. We had an informal dinner with a Tunisian World Fellow who came from my same background, my same society, and defied the odds.”

Mari Kawakatsu, Yale College ’17, Japan
“I think it’s inspiring when my friends and peers talk about topics or issues they are really passionate about. I find that that often happens spontaneously and late at night, when everyone is tired from studying but we get into animated conversations anyway. Even if it’s late, people are willing to stay up to share their ideas with you because they care about what they are studying and doing—and that pushes me to think about what I care about and what is important to me.“

Stephanie Siow, Yale College ’17, Singapore
My freshman year, I decided to take a freshman seminar on epidemics, even though I had never taken a class on the subject before. I found my passion for global health. I’m very glad I challenged myself and took a risk—it paid off in the end! I also never imagined I would be interested in coding, but as it turns out, I really enjoy it, and am now helping out with the Instructional Technology group to build a website for Japanese courses.”

Eddy Oketch, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences ’16, Kenya
“I’m inspired by interactions with my peers and professors. You’ll be discussing a global problem and your Swedish classmate will have a different view from you, someone from the U.S. will have another view, someone from Indonesia and yet another from Brazil… and hearing from these different people inspires me to learn from experiences that have worked in other places and implement something different in my country.”

Wissem Gamra, Yale College ’18, Tunisia
“I’m inspired by the opportunities to explore different interests at Yale. I’ve been interested in filmmaking for a long time, and I’ve had the chance to learn more about it through Bulldog Productions. Working with film is interesting from an engineering perspective but also because of the chance it gives me to tell stories. Right now, I am co-producing a 45-minute superhero film, for which the shooting will begin next semester. I cannot wait for it to start!”

João Pedro Drechsler, Yale College ’16, Brazil
One of my most meaningful learning experiences at Yale took place in Ghana during my freshman year. I traveled to two rural communities to do research on educational reform, an opportunity that allowed me to better understand the gaps between theory and practice and see with my own eyes how policies are implemented. During this three-week trip, I also learned why Yale is so special: everyone on our research team came from different academic backgrounds, which enriched the entire group’s perspective on the issues we encountered.”