Text and images by Yasunari Watanabe
Assistant Professor of Social Sciences, Dr Chin-Hao Huang, giving a sample lecture to families during Family Weekend 2016
Over the weekend of 7 to 9 October, Yale-NUS students invited their loved ones to the College for Family Weekend 2016, a time for families to participate in a variety of discussion sessions, get-togethers and student performances.
The College hosts Family Weekend annually in the middle of its first semester to facilitate a deeper engagement between students, their families and the College. Through this, the Office of the Dean of Students aims to connect families to their loved one’s lives at Yale-NUS, and give them a glimpse of the college experience, from the curriculum to residential life. Besides the First Year Assembly where first-year students are formally welcomed to the College, the Family Weekend is another opportunity for family members to visit and learn about the unique student experience here.
Dr Dimple Srivastava, who resides in India, has visited her son Angad Srivastava (Class of 2020) on such occasions. She shared that the best part about Family Weekend is the opportunity to see her son.
“I’ve realised that he is so happy and comfortable here—within two months, the place is like home for him,” she said. “For a parent, it’s the best thing when your child tells you that he or she is not homesick.”
One of the offerings at Family Weekend 2016 was a sample lecture by Assistant Professor Chin-Hao Huang, a Yale-NUS faculty member who specialises in political science. The lecture was a shortened version of one that first-year students took several weeks ago in their Comparative Social Inquiry course, a module under the Yale-NUS Common Curriculum. Through this lecture, families were given a brief introduction to the liberal arts and Common Curriculum course offerings.
“This naturally creates a point of intersection for parents and students to talk about…We were able to see parents become students again, and ask questions,” commented Ms Sara Amjad, Manager (Diversity & Inclusion) in the Office of the Dean of Students, who organised the programme.
Family Weekend is also an avenue for students to connect with their families, explained Ms Amjad.
“Having families around campus is very nice around this time, especially when stress levels could be high,” said Ms Amjad, “The honeymoon period for first-year students is now over, and the homesickness may be starting to kick in.”
For Angad, having his family around was reassuring as he readjusted to the rhythm of classroom studies.
“For us first-year students, this is the time when we had devoted a lot of attention to the Week 7 [Learning Across Boundaries (LAB) programme],” he said, referring to a week in which first-year students embark on learning projects within Singapore and abroad, to learn outside of the traditional classroom setting.
“Even seeing other people interacting with their families is a nice change of pace,” he added.
Students had the chance to perform for the guests over the weekend
Events such as the student panel on life at Yale-NUS and Q&A sessions with the Centre for International & Professional Experience (CIPE) and Admissions & Financial Aid team gave families an overview of different aspects of the Yale-NUS experience. Members of the faculty and College administration were also present at many of the meals and tea receptions to engage with families and answer questions.
“We were able to address some academic and personal inquiries we had,” said Dr Srivastava. “The President, the Rectors and Vice Rectors, the faculty, the Dean of Students—everybody was at hand, and it was a good way to meet them one-on-one.”
Similarly, Ms Poni Leong enjoyed speaking with Vice Rector Suyin Chew of Elm College, one of the three Residential Colleges (RCs) at Yale-NUS.
“[VR Chew] was very helpful in telling me about the Semester Study Abroad programme,” said Ms Leong, whose daughter Kit Ling Leong is in the Class of 2020.
She also talked to several faculty members who were in attendance with their families. “I learned a lot about the faculty residences, and how this truly is a residential learning environment, both for students and faculty,” she said.
Family Weekend included opportunities for students to perform for their families in the Performance Hall, such as the Gala Concert by the newly established Yale-NUS Orchestra, spoken word poetry, and ballroom dancing.
“All of them interact so comfortably with each other, regardless of nationality or background,” noted Dr Srivastava, who was impressed that the students were bursting with energy and enthusiasm. “It feels like one cohesive unit.”
To learn more about how families can stay connected with the College, visit our Parents and Families Connection page.