Written by Melissa Wang | Images as credited
On the road from the Ger camp to the Tövhön Monastery, through the Orkhon Valley (natural reserve, state protected) in Mongolia. Image by Dr Fabien Chareix.
Over the last week, you may have noticed that the campus was a little quieter than before. This was because our Yale-NUS freshmen were out and about in 10 projects that spanned across the world, as part of their Week 7 Learning Across Boundaries (LABs) programme.
Week 7 is a co-curricular programme organised by the Centre for International and Professional Experience (CIPE), and is now one of Yale-NUS flagship offerings for our freshmen. It seeks to encourage collaboration across disciplines and encourage our students to take their skills and knowledge into real world situations helping them take their learning beyond the boundaries of the classroom. The Week 7 LABs also tie in with the Common Curriculum, which encourages collaboration across disciplines among faculty, so that students have the best possible inter-disciplinary experience.
This year, Week 7 saw our students going through a multitude of experiences – from dining in absolute darkness here in Singapore to a typhoon in Fujian, China, to seeing wild animals live in the reserves while learning about the Conservation and Reintroductions in South Africa. This year’s projects realise the potential of the region with three projects based in Singapore, and six others within Asia.
Ms Adelle Lim, CIPE’s Senior Manager and overall coordinator of the Week 7 projects, shared, “The Week 7 Symposium this year showcased many LAB (Learning Across Boundaries) activities in neighbouring countries – demonstrating that there is a great deal of potential for experiential co-curricular programming around the region.”
“We will continue this meaningful suite of programming to leverage on our geographical location to create opportunities for students to explore, understand and give back to our regional locales,” Ms Lim added.
At the end of the week, students returned with their adventures, experiences and stories, which they shared at the Symposium last Saturday, 3 October 2015. Through presentations, photos, videos and exhibitions of posters that the students set up, the Symposium gave students the opportunity to share their experiences with their peers, faculty and even their family members.
A young kid running out of the house in Bi Shan (碧山), a village in China that students visited. Image by Sean Cham.
For many students, Week 7 was an intellectual exploration – achieving the aim of exploring the Common Curriculum in a broader context. Gemma Green, Class of 2019, whose Week 7 project was to Huizhou, China to learn about the History, Agriculture, and the Future of China’s Villages shared that their group had to study and analyse the development of four different villages, learning about the effectiveness of the different strategies that were employed.
“I learned a lot about urban planning, something I had never explored before, and found it very enriching,” Gemma shared.
Stories of Ourselves group picture at Clinical Imaging Research Centre before heading to learn about fMRI machines. Image by Al Lim.
This included those who stayed in Singapore for Week 7, such as Anandita Sabherwal, who was on Stories of Ourselves, a project that partnered the National Heritage Board, Singapore Heritage Board and Project 50/100. This LAB challenged students to think about what collective memory means and to explore how individual memories work, considering their biological foundations, their fundamental relationship to personal identity, and the consequences of their failures.
“Further delving into the cognitive aspects of memory, we realised that it not only connects us to our past, but also actively constructs possibilities for our future. Exploring this trail has left me with more questions than answers,” Anandita shared.
A wooden house close to the Orkhonii khürkhree (Orkhon Falls also called Red Waterfalls) in Mongolia. The moon was full (on the 27th) and was eclipsed that night for european viewers only . Photo by Dr Fabien Chareix.
For others, the exploration came in the form of physical challenges. From encountering blood-sucking leeches in Malaysia, for those on the project From Clusiaceae to Supertrees, to floating down the river in the middle of the Bruneian jungle for those on Genomics in the Jungle, to going without showers in the Himalayas while learning about the Ecology, Economy and the Environment, our students were certainly taken out of their comfort zones.
“The highlight of this trip was definitely the yurt stay in the Mongolian countryside where we did not have electricity or running water. Our toilet was a hole in the ground with a wooden shed covering it,” shared Rachel Tan, who was a part of the project Touching the Sky, which explored Mongolia’s Universe of Art and Culture. Despite this, Rachel shared that the experience was a very positive one.
“This past week I have enjoyed myself thoroughly being disconnected from civilisation and looking at the world from a whole new perspective,” she shared. “The serenity and vastness of Mongolia leaves much room for quiet contemplation and this experience has left me more knowledgeable in the arts and geography.”
Mdm Joyce Lim, a parent, learning more about what the students did on their Week 7 projects during the Symposium. Image by Melissa Wang.
The Week 7 Symposium that was held on campus last Saturday, also offered family members a glimpse to the unique experience that our students were exposed to.
Mdm Joyce Lim, mother of Tan Yan Ru who presented on her project Maker Movement, shared that she was initially slightly disappointed that Yan Ru was unable to go for an overseas project but her views changed once the LAB began. Yan Ru made a present for her father out of the prints from a pinhole camera she learnt to make during Week 7 and Mdm Lim said, “This project is really hands-on, and the students actually made things.”
She added: “I’m very impressed by what the students and the College are doing, especially by the local projects. It shows that wherever you are, you can learn something and enjoy it – that’s what education is about.”
Click here for a full list of the ten Week 7 projects. You can also follow the hashtag #cipeweek7 on social media to find out more about the adventures of Week 7.