By Kelly Ng
With over 900 students from more than 60 countries across 6 continents enrolled, diversity is at the core of Yale-NUS College. This diversity ensures that Yale-NUS students have the opportunity to gain a more informed understanding of people of different races, ethnicity, national backgrounds, religions, cultures and beliefs. Reflecting this cultural diversity on campus is Diverge, a student-run, online periodical that puts a wide range of college stories and experiences into dialogue – drawing parallels, spotting differences and raising provoking questions.
Jasmine Su (Class of 2020), one of the founders of the periodical, explained how Diverge was conceptualised. “So many interesting conversations between students from diverse backgrounds were happening on campus every day, but these intersections of cultures existed largely in the informal spaces outside of classrooms. We wanted to formalise and perhaps even inspire more of these conversations in a written form,” Jasmine said.
Since its first cycle of publication in 2017, Diverge has featured an extensive range of stories, from writings about food and identity to the topic of displacement and transitioning across different settlements and the meaning of a liberal arts education in Singapore, demonstrating how diversity is pervasive in a multi-faceted manner. Each article is a compilation of viewpoints and perspectives written by various students about a common topic. This gives readers a glimpse into how people from different cultures and backgrounds are similar or dissimilar.
“You can thus think of Diverge both as a way to document the cultural diversity on campus and also a platform for more of these intercultural interactions,” explained Jasmine.
For Vivien Su (Class of 2021), the periodical presented a perfect opportunity for her to hone her writing skills whilst at the same time better understand and share other human experiences.
“I find that reading the experiences of other people and reflecting on your own experiences really pushes you to revisit and question the beliefs that you have established as truths about your own life and about the world. For example, one of the stories that I worked on, Building a Relationship with Our Bodies, showed me the different ways in which people make peace with their past and current selves,” she said.
Another student publication that amalgamates stories and voices across the student body is ABROAD. ABROAD is an aesthetic collection of stories, arts and visuals of Yale-NUS students’ travel experiences. These travel tales span the multitude of programmes led by the Centre for International & Professional Experience (CIPE), such as Learning Across Boundaries (LAB) trips, semester and summer abroad programmes, as well as general travel reflections. Funded by the Dean of Students Office, ABROAD released its very first pilot issue in November 2018 to much anticipation from the students.
The idea for the magazine was first sparked by a group of students when they were on their semester abroad programmes.
Szu Jin (Class of 2019), Editor-In-Chief of ABROAD. Image provided by Szu Jin.
“I felt inspired by my own experiences and all the marvellous stories of my friends who were also overseas to start a lifestyle publication. I felt that we were all so fortunate to be everywhere in the world at the same time, crafting our own narratives, that it would be a huge waste to let all these reflections and diverse experiences lapse without a log anywhere. ABROAD was thus created to capture these myriads of feelings lest they get lost to the fallibility of memory and time,” shared Szu Jin (Class of 2019), Editor-In-Chief of the magazine.
Unlike Diverge where every story is in prose, contributions in ABROAD encompass reflection articles, photojournalism pieces, artworks, short stories, poetry, and even recipes. With a total of 22 submissions per edition, ABROAD is a rich tapestry of experiences that celebrates the magic of wanderlust, growth and enlightenment.
One of the pieces, titled ‘Sunset at the End of the World’, features excerpts from Paul Yee’s (Class of 2021) journal that documents his attempt at the Camino De Santiago, a 799km pilgrimage across the length of Spain. In this reflective piece, he writes of moments where he is humbled by the sight of 70 year olds confidently striding past him, of the remarkable joy of making new friends along the trip, and of the liberating feeling of solitude. As Szu Jin aptly said, “the writing is beautifully poetic and with a tint of vulnerability” that will almost inevitably move any reader.
‘Hey, How was New York?’ by Min Ying Zhu (Class of 2020).
Another captivating piece is ‘Hey, How was New York?’ by Min Ying Zhu (Class of 2020), an insightful reflection of her five months studying at New York University and a documentation of the process of how she used dance as an artform to capture her liminal thoughts and feelings. She writes of dancing solo in Times Square as an affirmative endeavour that helped her surmount her insecurities and fear, and as a timely reminder of how dance helps her mediate between her unsteady mood spells while pursuing her passions.
Moving forward, Szu Jin is hopeful that ABROAD will remain a regular publication beyond its pilot issue. “Every batch of students will no doubt produce precious travel tales and I do hope that someone will be inspired to pick up ABROAD as a publication and continue providing this platform for students to share their adventures.”