Saturday, 17 August 2013

Word of the month = Dynamic

So it's been a week since classes have started. One of the first impressions I have of the character of Yale-NUS is that it's dynamic. Many people here - especially the international students - are movers and shakers, the adventurous type who came here because it was a frontier, a "marchland". They want to start something new. They're pioneers, trailblazers, Davy Crocketts and Marco Polos and Zheng Hes (I think I've laboured the point). But more to the point, they're creative. They're brimming with ideas, and the gung-ho to put them into action. There's always something fresh, something new going on here.

The Shenanigans! Uncharted performance at Yale (oh, about two and a half weeks ago) is a great example. Completely student-initiated, it took on a life of its own, snowballing from a couple of people one week to a third of the whole first class a fortnight later. The performance lasted over two hours, was smoothly organised and beautifully executed. What I'm trying to illustrate here is the dynamism of the YNCers. With them, things happen. They get ideas, they get creative - and then they get down to business. There's nothing airy-fairy or wishy-washy about them. The gap between what is desired and what is achieved is as small as is humanly possible.

(I refer to YNCers in the third person, although I'm a proud YNCer myself, simply because I don't consider myself half as dynamic, proactive or creative as some of the others are. I hope, though, that in time this will change, as I spend more time living and interacting with this wonderful group of people.)

The way the college is shaping up is also remarkably sensitive to what we students want (hence, sense 2 of "dynamic"). Nothing's set in stone. Professors' office hours vary according to what's most convenient for their students. X-boxes and coffee machines and Economist subscriptions were purchased upon request, as was a juice blender and a supply of fresh fruit to supplement the paltry organic offerings of the dining hall. We request, and the administration responds - easy as that. The incredible amount of freedom we have to shape not only the school's student organisations and culture, but also (to a certain degree) the way it is run, is a tremendous privilege, and one that I hope we will not come to take for granted.

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