As I stood in the registration line, trying to look for a few familiar faces from my school, I felt nervous, yet excited. It was finally happening! I remember standing in front of a boy called Nenfort, who had trouble registering because he preferred another name on his tag. I found him quite amusing but kept quiet, too shy to introduce myself. Little did I know that he'd become the clown of my workshop group that week at YYAS.
Rumbidzo Dangarembizi (second from right) with her friends at YYAS 2016.
When my friend Fadzi and I welcomed two South African girls, Felicity and Thenjiwe, and helped them with their bags on arrival, we never thought that they would become two of our closest friends at the program. I still treasure their relationships to this today. In the evenings before bed, we'd sit in each other's rooms talking about the day and anything and everything, like we'd known each other our whole lives.
It was amazing seeing people from all over the continent and the beautiful blend of accents filling the air each day, making me feel right at home. There were so many names to learn throughout the week. I felt as though I met someone new every day! I found myself meeting new people even on the very last day.
Breakfast was one of my favorite times of the day. Our table was never shy of jokes and laughs, which always came from the Zimbabweans and the Nigerians. The Nigerians amused us with their love for jollof rice and their confusion over why we didn't have plantain in Zimbabwe. By the end of the week, we all felt like a family.
The talent show was an exciting showcase, too, especially when everyone gathered on the stage to dance. In that moment, watching everyone perform, we were all the same. We all spoke the same language as we danced to Davido's music. When people performed it was interesting to see the uniqueness and individuality they all possessed, whether they performed spoken word, sang, danced, or did stand-up comedy.
I believe that the program really opened the door for students to pursue tertiary education, especially at American universities. The Yale students who served as instructors during the program were all African, just like me. They all came across as kind, loving, and helpful. The advice they gave us in our workshop group, admissions sessions, and seminars was truly valuable. The goals that they had reached by being accepted into such a prestigious university didn't seem so distant anymore. All the information that they fed us throughout the week cleared my confusion and gave me a definite path.
I'd encourage any of you who are unsure of what you would like to do in the future, or who want to go for university, to apply to the program,. The lessons you'll learn at the program are invaluable and life-changing. Please don't pass up the opportunity. It is definitely worth going for the experience of a lifetime!