#HumansofOISS

#HumansofOISS is an Instagram campaign that features our talented international students & scholars. Click the link to the Instagram post to like or share, and be sure to follow us on Instagram for more amazing stories and content!

I interviewed George Palaiokrassas from Greece for this week’s #humansofoiss. George is a Postdoc Associate in Electrical Engineering and Yale Institute for Network Science (YINS). He grew up in Athens, Greece and studied electrical & computer engineering at the National Technical University of Athens. George conducted his undergraduate, graduate and postdoc studies there where his research was focused on machine learning and blockchain and he had opportunities to attend many conferences. Eventually he decided to join Yale for new experiences abroad.
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At Yale, George’s group’s study focuses on blockchain, networks and artificial intelligence. His recent work on decentralized finance on blockchain was just published at a conference, where he was able to analyze the blockchain data ever since the first block was created with new algorithms that he developed. There are many topics surrounding blockchain such as cryptography, security, decentralized applications, privacy, and attack detection. By understanding blockchain better, we can improve its security and have a transparent network with data that can’t be tampered. He is also a member of the programme committee of international conferences and journals. In the future, he would love to continue in academia and become a professor.
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George is a sports fan. He is part of the intramural basketball team and also enjoys working out - I can verify this since I run into at the gym a lot. He enjoys great food as well and told me that Yorkside pizza has good Greek food, such as spanakopita and souvlaki.

I met with Alma Trujillo Miranda, a PhD student at the School of Environment this week and was very keen to learn about her stories.
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Alma grew up in Texmelucan, Puebla, Mexico, and was always curious about the forests around her. She wanted to be an explorer of nature. After reflecting on what she enjoyed doing the most in her childhood, she went to Benemerita Universidad Autonoma de Puebla for undergraduate studies on biology. Alma evaluated the diversity of beetles of different guilds along an altitudinal gradient, which deepened her research interest. After undergrad, she redirected her research to provide information that could be used for forest management and conservation. She did her master’s in Ecology at Instituto de Ecologia A. C., and her thesis focused on evaluating active versus passive restoration strategies for tropical montane cloud forest in Mexico using diversity, structure, and tree regeneration as indicators of success. Since completing her master’s program, Alma has continued working on the evaluation of forest plantations and restored sites. As a result of her interest in solving socio-environmental problems, she joined an interdisciplinary group of researchers to develop a project to analyze environmental conflicts.
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After her long journey surrounding environmental studies, Alma was honored with a Fulbright-Garcia Robles scholarship to pursue her PhD and improve her English in the US. She really appreciates her PI’s mindset to think about what lies fundamentally within science and try to fill in the gaps within science that have not been well studied. For her future research, Alma wants to understand the effects of forest loss and fragmentation in community assembly, evaluating how the local landscape factors drive natural regeneration.
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Alma mentioned to me how the female figures in her life greatly influenced her career. She is very grateful to her mother and all the women scientists who have supported her through her path. All of them are great inspirations for her. She would love to be able to tutor students in the future and continue doing fundamental and applied ecology.
#humansofoiss

Let’s meet this week’s #humansofoiss - Lakshimi Swaminathan from India!
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“I’m currently a pre-doctoral research associate in the Yale Program of Financial Stability led by Prof. Andrew Metrick under the School of Management. My responsibility along with the other RA’s is to prepare case-studies on interventions that were influential in shaping financial crises of the past so that we can prevent history from repeating itself by helping policy-makers take well-informed decisions.
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I came to the US mainly because of the structure of the IDE (International and Development Economics) Program directed by Prof. Michael Boozer, which offers students the flexibility to explore other interests within Yale whilst sticking to the core concepts of Development Economics. Such diversity and exploresure helped me understand what really interested me and were the reason why I chose Yale and the US.
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Outside of research, I love biking, providing tarot readings to my friends here and catching up with grad school friends at Gryphon’s!”

We would like to introduce you to Zach Sun from Physics for this week’s #humansofoiss!
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1. Tell us your background stories - why/how did you choose to come to the US and Yale
“I spent my childhood in Shanghai (China), Los Angeles and Seattle. Later I went back to Shanghai for middle school and high school, and eventually went to UMass Amherst for undergrad.
How I chose to come to Yale for PhD felt like a coincidence with luck, but now I see it as “fate” ’. I first applied to the Applied Physics program not knowing that it does not include Biophysics, the direction I was interested in. One director at Yale was so kind as to email me that they were willing to switch me to the Physics program with the PEB track, even though the deadline was already due. Even today I am still very grateful for their sincere attitude towards every applicant.”
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2. What do you study for your research?
“I study a subfield within soft Condensed Matter Physics called Active Matter, in which we look within systems that are driven out of equilibrium. Our lab (Murrell lab) is interested in both in vitro and in vivo systems, which means we build artificial cells, and we study living cells. We mainly focus on the cell cytoskeleton-the actin cortex, which is a layer at the perimeter of the cell and governs cell’s motility and shape formation. My recent project is about Self-Organized Criticality within the cytoskeleton. We experimentally observed earthquake-like phenomenon from the actin network of the artificial cell actomyosin cortex.”
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3. What do you like to do outside of research?
“Sport-wise, I enjoy basketball (my favorite & I would’ve gone pro if my talent allowed), tennis, ping pong, and lifting (body-building). Music-wise, I have been a professional flutist since I was 8, and recently picked up ukulele for a change of taste. I’m also a big theatre person now - I recently joined the Vermillion theater and started drama/play acting. Other than that, I write poems from time to time, love reading (probably a given) and traveling. In general, I just love to see and feel the world from multiple different perspectives. Oh, and I am always down for boba!”

This week’s #humansofoiss features Rostacia Lewis from Trinidad!
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“I’m Rostacia, a fourth-year PhD student in the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, and I hail from the twin-island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. After completing my masters at Imperial College London, I decided to pursue PhD studies in the US since it was a little closer to home. There was no better place to study fluid dynamics than Yale University, one of the top 5 unis in the US.
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Of course my research is in the field of fluid dynamics. Specifically, I investigate particle focusing and separation in microfluidic devices using mathematical models.
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In my free time, I enjoy building full stack web applications, and watching Law & Order and House of Dragon.”

This week, I had a great time interviewing Lloyd Van’t Hoff and listening to his story as an Australian clarinetist and a Master’s Student in the School of Music at Yale.
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Lloyd was born in Darwin, Australia and lived in a remote place called Charters Towers throughout much of his life, where he started learning music and became a musician. He went to Brisbane for undergraduate study and moved to Melbourne to work professionally in the music industry. It was not until the pandemic happened and affected many artists that Lloyd started to reflect on if he was happy with the career trajectory he was on. He then realized that he wanted to study abroad and look for new opportunities. The diversity and richness in the Master of Music program at Yale were really attractive to him, so he applied and got accepted, moved to the US and has had an inspiring year at Yale so far.
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At Yale, Lloyd’s life includes taking classes on music, playing orchestral and chamber music, and weekly meetings with his principal teacher. It is amazing for Lloyd to have the opportunity to be in contact with many big figures in the music industry that Yale’s platform brings, whom Lloyd also finds are the most humble and open, which keeps Lloyd motivated and hopeful in continuing his professional journey. Yale opens a lot of doors and gives many new ideas to Lloyd, and he is interested in the dissection of music and community/regional area education. He would love to keep doing research and use the tool of music to help create a better future for people coming from similar backgrounds as him.
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We had a very interesting conversation on Vegemite, a classic Australian food spread made from leftover brewers’ yeast extract. I have seen people outside of Australia mistake this spread with Nutella and have hilarious reactions when they tried it the first time, so I had to ask Lloyd for some first-hand information. He told me that like coffee and alcohol, as time goes on, people build up their tolerance and are gradually able to enjoy it. Lloyd insists that finding the right butter to Vegemite ratio on toast is essential for growing a healthy love for the condiment.
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#humansofoiss

Meet Negin Farzad, a second year PhD student in Biomedical Engineering!
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“I studied radiology and radiotherapy at SBMU, Tehran, Iran. One day when I was setting up a patient for radiotherapy, I told myself there should be many more ways to treat cancer with more efficiency and less side effects. I decided to study and do research in BME at University of New Haven, where I received my master’s degree. My passion for research didn’t stop and I found myself interested in genetics and I became a postgrad at Yale University in Rong Fan lab. And now I am a second year PhD student at Yale with so many technologies to answer fundamental biology questions via mapping transcriptomics, epigenomics and proteomics.
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I enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking and going to the beaches. I also enjoy baking on rainy and snowy days.”
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We are still looking for more international students or scholars for our series of #humansofoiss. Reach out if you want to be featured and tell us your story!

This week, I met with Konstantin Gerbig at one of the Astronomy buildings on Hillhouse Avenue. Konstantin is a German PhD student in Astronomy. He grew up near Stuttgart and studied Physics at Heidelberg University. Through the research experiences at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy there, he became interested in theoretical astrophysics. During his master’s, he spent a year doing research in Santa Cruz, California and joined Yale for his PhD studies.

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For research, Konstantin studies the formation of planets from a theoretical perspective. With the discovery of more exoplanets, the theories need to evolve to explain very diverse planetary architectures. He simulates the systems where the planets form, trying to figure out the physics that governs such formation. Recently he just published a paper on hurricanes in space which could be the locations of planet formation. Konstantin is also an active contributor to the website of Astrobites, where he and other graduate students all around the world present interesting papers in a brief format that is accessible to undergraduate students who are interested in astronomy research.

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In his free time, Konstantin likes staying active by working out and joining social dancing such as Salsa and Tango which he has been doing for almost ten years. He also visits New York very often. In New Haven, one of his favorite spots is the Jitter Bus.

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Overall, Konstantin is enjoying his life in the US. What he misses most about Europe is how the cities are built to accommodate pedestrians and how convenient the public transport is, which makes it easier to go around the cities for daily needs without a car.
#humansofoiss

This week I met with Manuel Pace, a PhD student in Electrical Engineering, at Schwarzman Center. Manuel grew up in Habay-la-Neuve in Belgium and studied Engineering then Physical Engineering for his undergraduate and master’s degrees at UCLouvain. He later did a master’s in Theoretical Physics at Imperial College. During his master, he was able to visit Yale through an exchange program and decided to return to Yale for his PhD studies because of the great opportunities there are.
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Manuel joined Yale in January, 2022, so he is still exploring all the possibilities at Yale. For research, he is excited to start his work on superconducting resonators and other cryogenic experiments with quantum phenomena and looks forward to all the progress to make in the coming years. The future is still unknown but it is exciting to see what life offers next!
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Outside of research, Manuel has a lot of hobbies, although according to him, he would like to only focus on a few of them at once, so that he could make real progress. Currently, he is dedicated to working out at the gym (this is true because I always see him there) and writing. He is working on this fiction which was inspired by an idea he had when he was a teenager - maybe we will be able to read his trilogy one day. Growing up Manuel loved learning, so he also played guitar and drums, sang and did some grayscale drawing. He used to read fiction so much that his parents became “concerned” at some point. He later got the chance to get a computer and so started to enjoy playing some video games to relax. I am impressed by how multi-talented this person is!
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Being in the US, Manuel is happy about being able to live near the ocean, so it is always possible to go to the beach when desired. He also noticed how nice and positive people can be here, which brightens up his days. Overall, Manuel has enjoyed his time at Yale and looks forward to what is next. I wish him the best!
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#humansofoiss

For this week’s #humansofoiss, meet Shreya (@shreyasinghal00), a master student in Health Informatics. Nobody can make “J-walk” sound as interesting as she does.
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Q: What is your story and how did you decide to come to Yale?
A: “I hail from a small city in India, called Indore. One day I wanted to be a pharmacist, another, a doctor, then a biotechnologist, and now a Health Informatician. I don’t know how things worked out the way they did but somehow, I got into Yale. In reality, I chose Yale because of the flexibility it provides in terms of electives and the number of courses you can take, but that’s the boring stuff. It’s my story and I wanna believe that our stars were aligned. So, let’s just go with that, shall we?”
Q: Where is your favorite spot at Yale?
A: “Well, that’s… a secret. But I can tell you my second favorite spot! I love every edifice, every bench, every tree, every note of the carillon, and every glass of free alcohol that you get at the Yale-sponsored events! I always think that the founders of Yale gathered a bunch of architects one day, commissioned them all to design a building each, and asked them to go crazy with their imaginations. But, buildings aside, my second favorite spot at Yale would still be atop Science Hill, overlooking ‘the most beautiful street in America’, as quoted by Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, and me of course; where you can just sit in silence and take in the life around you, or maybe do an assignment!”
Q: What are some of the interesting things you find that are different from home for you?
A: “I was prepared to experience the infamous ‘culture shock’, but what actually shocked me was how not-shocked I was! I really love the fact that here people are more open to each other than back home. They’d greet you, hold doors for you, and offer help without hesitation! But the personal things, the internal struggle, the self-doubts, and the experiences they’ve had are all very similar. And the one thing that really stands out for me, that makes me feel at home, is how everyone J-walks all the time! I mean you can call it a lack of respect for the traffic rules if you want, but to me, it’s beautiful! :)”

For this week’s #humansofoiss, Aalap Shah (2nd year PhD in Psychology) wants to tell his stories in a different way: through his drawings and his favorite quotes from Alice in Wonderland:
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“There is no better way to describe my path to graduate school than this short exchange between Alice and The Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland:
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Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
The Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.
Alice: I don’t much care where.
The Cheshire Cat: Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.
Alice: …so long as I get somewhere.
The Cheshire Cat: Oh, you’re sure to do that, if only you walk long enough.”

This week I met with Nidhi Pashine - a Postdoc Associate from Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science. Nidhi is from Bhilai, India. She received her PhD degree from University of Chicago focusing on soft matter physics before joining Yale in 2021.
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At Yale, Nidhi studies granular metamaterials. Different from normal materials, these metamaterials have mechanical properties that people do not usually expect. For her project, the granular particles can be controlled individually so that the properties of the bulk can be altered as designed. In the future, she wants to become a faculty member to continue her journey in academia.
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Being in the US for Nidhi is an interesting experience. She was able to meet people from different backgrounds and cultures and make new friends. After a few years, she has been able to adapt to a new lifestyle and explore things she would not have done otherwise. She also appreciates the various types of international food here.
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Nidhi enjoys the outdoor activities such as hiking, climbing and biking. She likes backpacking and visiting national parks. Her favorite spot on campus is the lawn on Science Hill right underneath Steep. She once took her cat there to enjoy the sunlight together - it was a good memory!
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#humansofoiss send us a dm if you want to be featured in the future!

I met with Aritra Ghosh at one of the historic astronomy buildings on Hillhouse Avenue and we chatted about his experiences at Yale. Aritra is a Ph.D. candidate in astronomy. He uses the latest advances in machine learning combined with traditional techniques to study the formation and evolution of galaxies, and investigate the specific role played by Active Galactic Nuclei in this process.
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Aritra was born and lived the first 21 years of his life in Kolkata in eastern India. Fascinated by how physics seemed to have an answer for most phenomena happening around us, he decided to pursue a bachelor degree in Physics at Presidency University. During undergrad, he pursued diverse research themes over three summers all with different advanced computational techniques, and finally decided to help unlock the mysteries of the universe. He went to Holland for his masters and joined Yale for his Ph.D. in Astrophysics.
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The focus of Aritra’s research is on designing machine learning algorithms to tell the shapes, sizes and brightness of the galaxies based on the image data, figuring out the correlation between the existing properties and eventually revealing how the galaxies form and evolve. When asked about the exciting images from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, he was impressed by how sharper and clearer they are, and how deep the telescope could see by studying the infrared side of the wavelength. He is looking forward to the next NASA telescope which can look at large volumes of the sky, and thus he can possibly use his machine learning algorithms to extract information from the data.
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Outside of research, Aritra has been involved in student governments. He served on the Graduate Student Assembly focusing on mental health and international issues. He also works on the Astronomy Student Consultant improving the process of the admission and overall experiences of the Ph.D. student in the program. Aritra is also a Community Fellow at 254 Prospect Street. Through the events he organized, he was able to interact with a lot of people with various backgrounds. These non-academic experiences help Aritra thrive and focus better academically.
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#humansofoiss

It was another sunny and cozy day in July. Shubham and I met in front of the Sterling Library and chatted about his experience as an international scholar. Shubham is a research scientist in Psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine. He comes from Chandigarh in Northern India, and received his Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery from Government Medical College.
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At Yale, Shubham’s research focus is investigating the intersection between cannabinoids and schizophrenia. His lab collaborates with the PET center, to correlate these changes in-vivo. When asked about why he chose psychiatry, he told me that he was always inspired by his father who is also a psychiatrist and the exposure during Psychiatry rotation in med school also ensured his interest. He decided to come to the US for the vast opportunities and cutting- edge research it offers. Talking about the future, Shubham is applying for residency this year, and hopes to become a physician-scientist, dedicating time doing clinical work and research.
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Adapting to life in the US was not difficult for Shubham - he was welcomed by many friends from college here, which makes Yale feel like home. His lab offers precious resources and the multicultural environment makes it easy to fit in. One of the interesting things that he notices in the US is that everyone is treated “equally” without considering their ages and titles and that people are very polite and helpful.
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During leisure time, Shubham enjoys cooking and baking cheesecakes, something his friends can vouch for. Some of his other interests are soccer, Formula 1, cricket, photography and traveling. He’s traveled to 22 countries so far and wishes to visit all 195 of them. Playing FIFA online is another way for Shubham to relax and connect with his friends around the US.
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Being an international scholar here, Shubham also gave some advice on how to prepare to move to a new country: Find out the good restaurants beforehand (most important), study a little about the culture, be more open to the different perspectives people have to offer and keep learning! He takes time out to mentor his juniors in college, and volunteers in Project IMG as an author.

#humansofoiss

Calling all humans! International student and scholar humans to be exact. Would you like to be featured in our next #humansofoiss series? Our OISS Storyteller will meet with you to do a short interview, take some photos, and then share your story out for the Yale community to enjoy!
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Interested? Send us a DM or email molly.hampton@yale.edu to get on our list.

Vanakam Vish here! and it wouldn't be befitting if we don't celebrate @sarahmaryannbirdsall for her amazing time at OISS and the enthusiasm that she shares! I'm proud and happy to conclude my last post with the #humansofoiss of our very own Sarah! Nanri!

1. Your name and school!
Sarah Birdsall, Yale Divinity School '22

2. What is your best memory about featuring Humans of OISS and wider OISS role?
I loved getting to interview so many different people! Honestly the portrait photo session part was my favourite! I love helping people enjoy being in front of the camera

3. Your ways of storytelling are the best! What would you advise to someone like me to encourage to share more?
I think you should share what you love! That way you're always going to be more true to yourself, even if you have to do something for a big audience.

4. What's your favorite thing being an undergrad and a postgrad student Yale? (Give two distinct examples? I don't think insta has enough room lol)
I loved being an office and events aide as an undergrad at Pauli Murray!
and the best thing about being a grad student is being able to do the things you love without expectations that you should be doing everything!

5. You are from Zimbabwe. What do you miss from home?
This is an easy answer: the smiling people and the sunshine!

6. Tell us about the picture you chose to represent you?
I love this picture because I got to wear two of my favourite items my yellow rainbows and my pink dress!!

A last #humansofoiss hurrah for our social media curator Vish!

What's your name, home country, degree at Yale, and year of graduation?
I'm Vignesh Harikrishnan; people call me Vish or Vi here! I am from Chennai, a Coastal City in South India, and I am a Master of Architecture Student graduating this May!

What is your favorite thing about where you come from?
The Beaches and South Indian Filter Coffee. I spent most of my downtime on the beach or brewing my coffee in Chennai.

What has been the best part about being a Social Media Curator for OISS?
Everything. Molly, Sarah, our initial zoom meetings transitioning to Koffee? meetings; reminders to post for the day, and the opportunity to design the new logo for OISS! Something that I will cherish for the rest of my time.

What have you loved most about being at Yale?
The School and the Community that I built for the last two years, being an introvert in the pandemic wasn't easy, but the chance to build a community that stands for each other and thrives together was unique and will be a part of us forever.

What's your favorite coffee shop?
Atticus!

What's the weirdest thing you realized about America?
I didn't know that Half and Half was different from Skimmed milk, let alone the idea of skimmed milk. My Coffee brewing process had to endure throughout, and I'm still baffled by 1 and 2% stuff here. We need a revamp with naming and branding!

Tell us a little about the picture you chose to represent you!
Lol, I dont usually take pictures of mine, let alone pose. But, this is the closest good picture with an Artifact for a spacesuit that my team and I designed for a class at CCAM and are ready to send a Zero-G flight this May.

This week, meet Komal, YSE '22!

Q. Where are you from and what are you doing here?
I'm Komal Kunwar, from Kathmandu, Nepal. I will be graduating in May with a Master's in Environmental Management from the Yale School of the Environment.

Q. Tell us about the picture you chose to represent you.
Here's a picture of a sunrise over the Himalayas in Nepal. When I think of home, I think of our Mountains.

Q. What is your favorite thing about where you come from?
Aside from the mountains and abundance of natural beauty, my favorite thing about home is the ancient architecture. In Sanskrit, the word “Kathmandu” translates to “wood pavilion.” We are known for our historical monuments made out of wood (see picture attached) and these old buildings are at the heart of a budding metropolitan.

#OISS #humansofOISS #nepal

For this week's #humansofOISS edition, we talked to @arlind.kacirani, a first-year Chemical Engineering PhD student at the School of Engineering & Applied Science, and originally from the city of Shkoder in Albania.

Q: Arlind, are there any obvious cultural differences between Albanians and U.S. Americans?
A: While the U.S. American culture has become a conglomerate of very diverse cultures, I would say there are some distinct features between Albanian and American way of life. Albanians tend to spend a lot of time cooking; while some Albanian dishes take several hours to prepare, the culture of ordering out is new and not popular in Albania. Albanian people are big consumers of coffee. Centers of some of the biggest cities in Albania are dominated by the so-called “Bar Kafe” that stay open all day. Albanian culture is also known internationally for its religious harmony where muslims, catholics and othrodocs christians co-celebrate each other's holidays.

Q: What's a special holiday food in Albania?
A: One of the most prominent authentic holiday dishes in Albania is the “ballokume”. Ballokume is a biscuit-like dessert prepared traditionally in the city of Elbasan during the spring festival day, Dita e Veres. Its main ingredient is goat ghee and in its 'proper' form it melts in your mouth. The city of Elbasan attracts people from all over the country during Dita e Veres to taste the delicious ballokume. Hard to find authentic ballokume nowadays but definitely one of my favorite Albanian holiday foods.

Q: Do you have any favorite work spots at Yale?
A: Although I've seen much of Yale's campus, I think there is still a lot out there for me to explore. I usually spend my time at Sterling Memorial Library (and in Bass) which is one of my favorite spots to study or work on assignments. Marx Science Library is also a good work spot when I want to be closer to my apartment. I can't wait to explore more of what Yale has to offer in terms of study spaces this upcoming summer.

We have a student spotlight! Meet Zara Contractor, an international PhD Student from India, who was recently interviewed for the Department of Economics on her work on Labor Markets and Inequalities. The interview is up on the Dept. of Economics website and link in Bio! #humansofoiss

We're so proud of Ji Su, an international student from the Yale School of Music YSM '20, who has just been awarded a prestigious award, the Avery Fisher Career Grant!

The program's press release states that the grant is “designed to give professional assistance and recognition to talented instrumentalists, as well as chamber ensembles, who … have great potential for major careers.”

Congratulations Ji! We're so proud of you #humansofoiss

Meet Chinenye, our #humansofOISS this week!

Q. Where are you from and what are you doing here?
My name is Chinenye Okafor, and I come from Nigeria, and I'm here at Yale doing a Masters of Public Health. I graduate this year!!

Q. What is your favorite thing about where you come from?
My favorite thing about Nigeria is the multicultural setting! I love the variety in foods, the richness of tradition, and the varying and intriguing perspectives of the people.

Q. Tell us about the picture you chose to represent you.
In the pictures above, you can see me when I was a physician in Nigeria. I worked in Covid-19 isolation centers during the Covid-19 period before coming to Yale!

For this week's #humansofOISS edition, we talked to Julia Hwang, a MMA student at @yale.music , and originally from Cambridge in the United Kingdom.

Q: Julia, is there something people from the U.S. frequently get wrong about your home country?
A: I think that the common perceptions people have about the UK are all right, unfortunately - it does rain a lot, yes, and we get very excited by the slightest show of snow.

Q: If you could give any advice about moving to another country to study, what would it be?
A: As I was born in Seoul, South Korea, and moved to the UK when I was seven, the prospect of moving didn't seem as daunting as it might do for others. This is very cliche, but it has been so enjoyable and rewarding to be studying in an entirely new culture and setting, and I wish I hadn't been as nervous prior to moving to the USA. The OISS and other small groups for international students have been incredibly helpful in providing new information for foreigners like myself, and I've had fun being on campus from day one.

Q: What's your favorite thing to do in or around New Haven on a weekend?
A: I love wandering around East Rock, especially when there are no classes and the sun is out. It's also nice just to wander around the city aimlessly because it's so different to any city in the UK and Korea.

This week, meet Ketaki!

Q. Where are you from and what are you doing here?
A. “Hey, I am Ketaki Joshi. I hail from Pune, also known as the “Oxford of the East,” located in western India. I am pursuing a Ph.D in Computer Science from Yale and expect to graduate in 2024.”

Q. What is your favorite thing about where you come from?
A. “My most favourite thing about India and especially Pune is the perfect balance of culture and westernization it has achieved. Being the cultural and education hub, we also interact with people from diverse national, regional, ethnic backgrounds. I believe not only Pune, but also in general the diversity of India has inculcated a strong sense of empathy and sensitivity when we interact in the society. Or as they say in India: 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam' - The entire world is my family.”

Q. Tell us about the picture you chose to represent you.
A. “Here is a photo of me in a traditional Indian dress!”

If you're interested in being featured here for #humansofOISS, just send us a DM!

For this week's #humansofOISS edition, we talked to Animesh Upadhyay, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the @smilowcancerhospital, who is originally from Mumbai in India. Read on to find out how to celebrate Diwali, and what Indian dish you must try in New Haven. If you would like to be featured in one of our stories, just shoot us a DM!

Q: Animesh, how is New Haven different from where you grew up?
A: I come from a town far from here known as the “city which never sleeps” aka Mumbai. For me, New Haven is a quaint little town with a young population. A series of intellectual conversations over various frat parties, the bone-chilling cold weather and witnessing my first ever snow evidently made New Haven socially and topographically different from where I grew up.

Q: Are there any important holidays you go back home for? If not, do you celebrate them in New Haven?
A: Diwali - The festival of lights; is by far my favorite holiday out of the tons of holidays already existing in India. I got a chance to celebrate it with my friends this year in New Haven. We start with cleaning the house; lighting up sparklers, ground crackers, oil lamps; wearing new ethnic clothes and topping it up with a piece of gold jewelry. The highlight of this day is meeting new people, eating a ton of sweets, and sharing the sheer warmth brought about by the happy faces around you.

Q: Do you have any favorite Indian restaurants in New Haven? What do we need to order if we go?
It would undoubtedly be @houseofnaan. Its menu has a lot to offer and is by far the most authentic Indian restaurant. You'll definitely need to order the Korma with the choice of your protein (I prefer chicken, as that's how the dish was originally made).

This week, meet Oksana Goroshchuk! Oksana is proudly from Ukraine. We're happy to represent our Ukrainian community on campus today with Oksana's story. OISS and everyone on campus is here to support the Ukrainian community - so please reach out to us if there's anything we can do

Q. Where are you from and what are you doing here?
A. “My name is Oksana (Ksenia) Goroshchuk. I'm from Ukraine, and here at Yale as a Postdoctoral Associate at the Department of Neurology.”

Q. What is your favorite thing about where you come from?
A. “My favorite thing about my country is the courage of our people, an ability to unite for a good cause and an incredible sense of humor.”

Q. Tell us about the picture you chose to represent you.
A. “I attached a picture with two of my good friends. We were 18 years old, volunteered for European days in Ukraine in May 2008. We're walking on the Kreshchatyk street, the central street of Kyiv. That was the day of my first kiss. I was young, happy, in love and surrounded by like-minded people. This street survived WW2. I really hope I'll be able to walk there again and see the same buildings.”

If you're interested in being featured here for #humansofOISS, just send us a DM!

This week, we talked to Federico Brandmayr, a Postdoctoral Associate at Yale's MacMillan Center, and originally from Villafranca di Verona in Italy. Swipe to see some beautiful Italian landscapes, and to find out what pizza Federico orders in New Haven. If you would like to be featured in one of our #humansofOISS stories, just shoot us a DM!

Q: You know that New Haveners are very proud of their pizza. What do you think of it? Do you have any favorite places here?
A: They should be very proud! (Methodological disclaimer: I haven't tried any U.S. pizza outside of New Haven). My suggestion: if you want to eat pizza like you would if you were in a good Italian pizzeria, then Zeneli (@zeneli_pizzeria) is your place. If you prefer the American version, Modern Apizza (@modernapizza) is good.

Q: What do you find is the biggest cultural difference between Italians and Americans?
A: Italians: pizza, soccer, coffee, mafia, “Mamma mia!”; Americans: money, work, money, big stuff, money. Am I doing this right? On a slightly less facetious note, most Italians I know are amazed by the lack of car and home security precautions in the U.S. My father-in-law, who admittedly works in the security business, was shocked when he got into the wrong car by accident, which had been left unlocked by the owner.

Q: What's your favorite place to work at Yale or in New Haven?
A: One of my favorite places to work is the lounge/parlor of the Center for Cultural Sociology on Prospect Street, where I've had great conversations with remarkable scholars on the most diverse subjects. And that counts as work, apparently!

This week, meet Phyllis Mugadza, our 2020 OIS Head Counselor!

Q. Where are you from and what are you doing here?
A. “My name is Phyllis Mugadza and I'm from Zimbabwe . I'm at Yale doing a BSc in Mechanical Engineering '21, and an MPH in Health Care Management '22.”

Q. What is your favorite thing about where you come from?
A. “My favorite thing about Zimbabwe is the nature and the wildlife and being outside in the warm sunshine!”

Q. Tell us about the picture you chose to represent you.
A. “I chose an image that I took with a Galapagos tortoise. We have so many animals in Zimbabwe, of all shapes and sizes, and I love learning about them.”

If you're interested in being featured here for #humansofOISS, just send us a DM!

This week we talked to Luna Zagorac, a 6th year PhD student in Physics, and originally from Belgrade in Serbia. Swipe to see one of her home country's landmarks, and what she gets up to in New Haven. If you would like to be featured in one of our #humansofOISS stories, just shoot us a DM!

Q: Luna, you are originally from Serbia. What would you say are the most common misconceptions about your home country?
A: That it's the same as Siberia We are much closer to the Mediterranean!

Q: Do you have any funny stories about using an English word incorrectly?
A: I picked up a lot of random, old-timey words from reading Jane Austen and the Brontes when I was a teen, so every so often I will use a word that is 1) uncommon and 2) mispronounced. One I can remember is amiable (I pronounced it “amayable”).

Q: What's a New Haven bar you like, and what would you recommend ordering?
A: One of the most underrated food options in New Haven are the vegan dishes at Three Sheets (@threesheetsnh) on Elm Street – in particular their Buffalo cauliflower!

Since we're not quite ready to get back into in-person interviews yet, we've decided to start a slightly new version of #humansofOISS if you're interested in sharing some of what you love about where you come from, DM us right now and we'll be in touch!

This week, meet Abdessamad Belgada, who also goes by Samad.

Q. Where are you from and what are you doing here?
A. “I'm from Morocco, I'm a Fulbright visiting Ph.D. Candidate at the Chemical and Environmental Engineering Department, co-advised by Prof. Elimelech. Graduating this year.”

Q. What is your favorite thing about where you come from?
A. “I love a lot of things about my home country. Mind you, what I like most about it is the immense cultural richness which is related to the deep historical extension, noting that Morocco is the second oldest kingdom in the world (12 centuries of history), beside the presence of Moroccan Amazighs for about 30 centuries. In addition to that, Morocco is situated at the crossroads of Europe and Africa, which makes it a major economic and diplomatic player on the continent, exerting influence in African, Arab, and European dialogues.”

Q. Tell us about the picture you chose to represent you.
A. “This picture is from Dakhla, the pearl of Moroccan Sahara. I have chosen this picture because it reminds me of one of the most glorious moments of my life, when my team and I won the Moroccan championship of debates in 2018.”

Zeki Tan is a first year student in Pauli Murray College. He comes from the Philippines, though he also lived in New Zealand for a few years when he was younger. Yale came as a bit of a surprise to Zeki, given that he was initially planning on attending college in either the Philippines or New Zealand! But COVID happened, and things fell into place, and here he is!

Right now, Zeki is planning on majoring in Biomedical Engineering, and eventually maybe working for or starting his own medical devices company. For now, his plan is to try out fun classes in different majors and to find some practical classes that will supplement the knowledge he's gaining from his requirements. Zeki actually writes for the Yale Scientific Magazine - he has two articles online, one about using satellite imagery to predict flood-prone areas, and another about Dr Collins of the NIH, and his legacy and the future of Public Health in America.

Being an international student is a unique experience, something Zeki has noted after just one semester here. Coming from a country with a tropical climate, Zeki has found that the change in seasons - and this crazy snow we've been having - is no joke: it really does affect the body, from sleep to appetite to mood! It's Zeki's first time living with snow, and fortunately he has a suitemate from Wisconsin who was able to counsel him on Winter gear. New winter boots and a good coat are essential! As is taking a walk outside, which Zeki did after our interview in spite of the cold. Don't forget to get some fresh air!

#humansofOISS

Manushi Kumar is here at Yale for her one-year Masters in International and Development Economics. She comes from Gurgaon, India and did her undergraduate degree - also in Economics - at Delhi University. After graduating, she worked in management consulting for a year. But when Covid struck, she decided to take a year off and spent her time learning French and computer programming languages.

Manushi decided she wanted to pursue further studies in Economics at Yale because she wanted to specialize in development economics. She was also accepted to the London School of Economics, but ultimately ended up at Yale by a series of fortunate events that now allow her to study what she's truly interested in!

Eventually, Manushi thinks she might like to work in the development sector, or at firms working on development research especially as they pertain to learning outcomes and educational research.

When she isn't studying diligently, you can probably find Manushi singing or dancing! During Covid, she started making dancing reels on Instagram (@manushi.kumar) - she was already skilled at traditional Indian dancing, but decided to try and learn some western dances too! At Yale, she's part of Danceworks, and they're having performances this weekend! (this Saturday @9PM!) Be sure to check them out if you can!

Coming to Yale was unexpected for Manushi, and she says that she's learning that no matter how much you try to control your life, you'll end up somewhere that you're meant to be!

#humansofOISS

Introducing you to our amazing OISS Student Worker for this week!

“Hello! My name is Isabella Romero Stefanoni and I am a freshman at Saybrook College. I am from Puebla, Mexico, and a potential Global Affairs and English major. My hobbies include reading, baking, cooking, film, and spending time with friends and family. I am excited to work at OISS this semester!”

- Isabella Romero Stefanoni, Mexico, Yale College, Class of 2025

#oissstudentworkers #humansofoiss #yalecollege #yale

Though those red and black chairs and tables outside Sterling don't look so comfortable, they are surprisingly easy to sit on when you're having an interesting conversation. Ziv Ben-Zion and I chatted on one of those hot-and-cold mornings on the red and black chairs. Ziv is a post-doc in Neuroscience here at Yale. He comes from northern Israel, and received his Bachelors and PhD degrees from Tel Aviv University.

Here at Yale, Ziv is working in two labs to try and help figure out how processes of learning, memory & decision making happen in the general population, and how do these processes change in people suffering from stress- and anxiety-related disorders. His interest in the neuroscience of emotions started during his Bachelors, that then led to thinking about neural mechanisms of emotional disorders. In his PhD, Ziv focused on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), trying to understand why some people develop PTSD after trauma exposure, while some do not. Ziv is motivated by the fact that results of his research may really help people- in Israel, in the states, and all over the world.

Though he only arrived in July, Ziv has explored a lot of New Haven. Some notable restaurants and bars he has found are @thetrinitybar , @elm_city_social and @geronimotequilabar . He also mentioned that the Yale Post Doc Association and OISS events have given him excellent opportunities to make connections with friends!

Ziv's word of advice is to make sure that your job is like your hobby. Do something you're interested in, and you will never get bored!

Ziv Ben-Zion, 1st year post-doc, Neuroscience, from Israel

#humansofOISS

Drumroll please…introducing you to Zayyan, another wonderful addition to our OISS Student Worker team!

“Hello! My name is Zayyan and I am a freshman in Silliman College and I am planning to major in Economics and Computer Science. I am from Pakistan's second largest city, Lahore. In Lahore, I loved to ride motorcycles and eat biryani, the most scrumptious Pakistani food ever (I am still striving to find a restaurant in New Haven that makes good biryani). At Yale, I am a part of the Yale Machine Learning Club. I am also involved in the Yale Cricket Club and Squash Club. Hope to see you around campus!”

- Zayyan Naveed, Pakistan, Yale College, Class of 2025

#oissstudentworkers #humansofoiss #yalecollege #yale

Eugenio Saenz Flores is a second year student at the School of Drama, studying Technical Design and Production. That means he's almost half of the way through his four year degree! His path to the theatre is not as straightforward as one might think for someone who so obviously loves what he does so much. Eugenio is from Mexico, “born and bred.” He went to Canada for college and started off on track to get a theatre and business degree, but pretty soon into that program and without taking a single business class, he realized that that life just wasn't for him. So he left!

He then started a new program at the National Theatre School of Canada, which runs similarly to a conservatory. After graduation, Eugenio came to America and interned on Broadway. Upon finishing down there, Eugenio started working as a technical director and production manager at multiple regional theatres and Opera in Canada. “Stage and lights,” Eugenio exclaimed, “that's what we're trained to do.” During our mini-tour of the University Theatre, it was evident that Eugenio knows what he's doing. In case you've never been backstage, I just want to note that stage mechanics are very very complicated.

Eugenio chose Theatre because he loves the nature of theatre work. It is all about the relationships, about feelings, and about putting on a play that gives people a chance to escape, even just for a moment. But when he isn't packing up stage props at 12am, Eugenio has other hobbies and loves. For one, he is on a mission to find the best Mexican food around New Haven. Right now, his vote is for Tlaxcala, which has the best Torta de Milanesa. He also enjoys going to Yale Athletics (@yaleathletics) events, and just generally walking around New Haven - his go-to place is Grove Street Cemetery, though you might also find him up East Rock.

After Yale, Eugenio wants to go big. Maybe America, maybe Mexico, maybe Canada. Always theatre. His parting words are a testament to his attitude: “advice for people in theatre? Don't have a plan B.”

Eugenio Saenz Flores '24, 2nd year School of Drama student, from Mexico (and also Canada)

#humansofOISS #Yale

On a crisp day over Fall Break, Anthony Etim and I met at the benches outside Pauli Murray, or, alternatively, by the Food Trucks (for those who aren't familiar with the undergraduate college layout!) One of the most astonishing things about Anthony is that he graduated from high school in Nigeria at 16, and is starting his PhD in Electrical Engineering here at Yale at the youthful age of 21. Talk about genius! He received his undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering - with a minor in Computer Science - from Villanova University in Pennsylvania, taking six classes every semester.

For his PhD, Anthony is working on FPGA security with his adviser Dr. Jakub Szefer. FPGA security is far more complicated than I could ever hope to make sense of, but the gist of it is that it is a kind of computer hardware security that involves working with logic gates and looking at attacks and defenses… If it sounds complex, it's probably because you need to be an Electrical Engineering PhD student to understand. The broad name for Anthony's research right now is “Computer Architecture”, which sounds amazingly difficult and fascinating!

Anthony also enjoys finding new things to try, like dabbling in learning Korean, playing Basketball, exercising some photography skills, learning how to play the guitar, and joining the archery club. And one day he thinks he might like to own his own business.

But for the time being he's trying to “just have fun”. Sounds like a plan!

Anthony Erin, first year PhD candidate Electrical Engineering, from Nigeria

#oiss #yale #humansofOISS #college #phd #doctorate #electrical #engineering #nigeria

Martin and I met on the steps of Sterling Memorial Library on a stormy afternoon last week. This weather was rather incongruent with our bright conversation and Martin's charming smile! Martin comes from the sunny country of Ecuador, but moved to Buenos Aires for his undergraduate degree in Political Science. After that he completed a Masters in Political Theory at the University of Essex in the UK before coming to America to pursue his PhD. Martin is at Yale as a visiting doctoral fellow from Tulane University, currently in his third year of what he hopes will be a five year PhD. Martin is studying populism in the Americas, and he's here at Yale predominantly to work closely with Prof. Paris Aslandis.

When asked how he became interested in populism, Martin gave a simple, succinct answer: he's lived in countries led by populist leaders all his life, and so it was only natural for him to become curious about why people like certain politicians. What moves people to feel represented by a certain person's political expression?

Martin is a man who makes the most of his time. When he isn't scanning newspapers, surveys, and articles for research, he is likely playing basketball at @PWG, cooking and prepping good food for the week, or stopping in at @theTrinityBar for the “7 item” or “Irish” Breakfast - which literally has seven items. Martin developed his love for Irish Breakfasts while he was studying in England. He also found his favorite tea there: Earl Grey *with* milk. But Martin's culinary expertise does not end with tea. No, it extends to the realm of wine connoisseurship. Martin took classes about wine in gastronomic schools while he was in Argentina, developing a vast repertoire of wine information that makes him quite the wine aficionado. Even so, his word of advice when asked for wine recommendations is: first, Argentinian Malbec is the best, but, second, “the best wine is the wine you like.”

Martin Mejia, from Ecuador, 3rd year Visiting Doctoral Fellow at the CLAIS”.

#yaleoiss #humansofOISS #YALE

On a very **Fall** day, Vanessa Bittner and I met up to talk about her life. Vanessa is someone you'll be seeing a lot of here on IG in the next few weeks, because she is OISS' new DEI fellow (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion fellow). More to come about this, but just know that Vanessa is eager to help you navigate your way through the murky waters of being an international person in America! She comes from Germany, and was actually here during her undergrad years (at Konstanz University in Germany) for an internship at Dwight Hall!

Vannessa is a fifth year PhD student studying Sociology, and, more specifically, how controversial public figures become catalysts for political polarization. She argues that these people become “proxy battle grounds” for opposing groups, and act as “symbolic lightning rods”, attracting attention and charging people with emotion.

For international students, conversations about American politics and social justice issues can feel foreign and incomprehensible, especially as we sometimes lack the vocabulary needed to participate in them without saying the “wrong” thing unintentionally. Vanessa wants to help people navigate these new spaces by equipping them with tools, particularly communication-focused, and helping them learn how they can educate themselves in new cultural environments. Her motivation comes from being an international student herself, and having experienced the uneasiness of feeling like she “just didn't get it”.

Vanessa wants to apply what she's studying to the world outside academia. Though she started her PhD thinking she might want to be a professor, she has since begun to imagine herself in other roles, like working in international or science communications. She wants to make complex things accessible for everybody, be that in translating scientific research for policy makers, or working as the DEI fellow and facilitating cross-cultural understanding at Yale.

When she’s not pondering about sociology, Vanessa loves cooking and baking for her friends. She also enjoys weight lifting, barre classes, yoga, and hanging out with her roommate and her cat @hobbesthenoodle. She says if you're into wholesome cat content, you should check out his IG.

#yaleoiss #humansofOISS #germany #yale

Who's ready to meet another one of our student workers? Today we are excited to introduce you to Aileen!

“Hello! My name is Aileen Siele from Kenya. I am a freshman in Trumbull College, interested in exploring the intersection of health and technology. When I am not doing homework, I listen to podcasts or go for walks around campus. I am looking forward to a great experience at my new home for the next 4 years - an experience that is wholesome, full of fun, learning moments, and meeting new people from different backgrounds. Coming from a tight-knit community, I am excited to be joining groups and organizations that foster the growth of a strong community. It is exciting to be a part of the OISS team this semester and I can't wait to see how it goes.

Be kind. Be nice. Believe. Stay humble. Smile!!”

- Aileen Siele, Kenya, Yale College, Class of 2025

#oissstudentworkers #humansofoiss #yalecollege #yale

On a shining Tuesday morning, I met with Maksimas (Max) Milta at one of the colorful tables on Beinecke Plaza. Max is here for his first year of a Masters in European and Russian Studies, through the Graduate School's MacMillan Center. He is focused on studying sanctions, and, more specifically, how to make them work!

Max comes to Yale with a wealth of experience and education already under his belt: he received a Bachelors in Cultural Heritage from a European Humanities University, a private liberal arts university “in exile” (meaning that the entire university literally up and relocated from Belarus to Lithuania), and a Masters in Political Science from Vilnius University. Max then worked for European Humanities University for eight years, as both a Head of Communication and Development and a Lecturer in late 19th and early 20th century European literature.

As we talked, I realized that I was speaking to someone who has really excelled in the art of living. There doesn't seem to be anything that Max does that is not done to the full. Take his interest in politics, for example. Not only is he pursuing a third degree in a politically-related field, Max also covered protests in Belarus in an on-the-ground reporting role, spoke on live TV with major news agencies like the BBC, and is the host of a new Russian-speaking ten-episode documentary that just premiered last Sunday on Lithuanian National TV about women activists from Belarus who were forced to flee their country, and are currently in exile (it's called “Talaka”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjcy2OQ3Ltg). Oh, and he has a podcast discussing Belarus, called Minsk Express (link in comments!) And he's a ReThink.CEE fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the US, where emerging activist scholars receive support and funding as they produce policy papers (his is about the use of higher education as a soft power in countries of Europe's East and Southern Caucasus). And he's on the Graduate Student Senate at Yale.

So yes, I think I would say Max is making the most of his time!

#humansofoiss

Meet our OISS Student Workers!

Each year OISS hires a few undergraduate student workers to help us around the office, and this year we have a brand new crew!

These friendly faces will often greet you when you walk into our office and they look forward to meeting you when you stop by this semester. Today, meet Afia!

“Hello everyone! My name is Afia Sarpong Frimpong and I use she/her/hers pronouns. I am a senior in Berkeley College and I am majoring in Biomedical engineering. I love reading (fiction) in my leisure time and I do a bit of drawing as well. I also sing with the Yale Gospel Choir on campus - visit our YouTube page for some great music! I am happy and grateful to be on campus now and to see lots of people. Stay healthy and happy! “

- Afia Sarpong Frimpong, Ghana, Yale College, Class of 2022

#oissstudentworkers #humansofoiss #yalecollege #yale

Maria-Elena comes from Greece, and grew up in the idyllic-sounding Athens Riviera. She has an expansive list of things she is passionate about, from exploring the potential of chemistry to impact human biology, to calligraphy, painting, and trying to keep up her violin skills.

As you can probably tell, Maria-Elena radiates sunshine. We met on a sparkling day, and it was the perfect weather for our interview. Though I am not knowledgeable enough to relay all the fascinating facts I learnt during the course of our conversation, I will do my best to summarize here the wonderful work Maria-Elena does!

Essentially, she designs molecules to target specific sites of proteins that relate to their function. Abnormal proteins can cause numerous diseases, so the work Maria-Elena does is, as far as I can tell, a form of intricate art. She builds molecules that fit the sites within some of the tiniest fibres of our being to treat diseases. She loves it because it is endlessly intriguing. And she has loved her time at Yale because it has accommodated and supported her scientific curiosity.

She says that the exposure students have here (at Yale) to so many different cultures and modes of thinking enriches both the path to scientific solutions, and the solutions themselves. If you want to know more about what Maria-Elena studies, she is very happy to explain! Just send us a dm and we'll put you in touch!

When Maria-Elena is not collaborating in the exploration of scientific realms as yet untouched, she enjoys perusing the shelves at the BookTrader Cafe, sitting, reading, and simply enjoying a solid cappuccino. She left me with some thoughts of wisdom: “Your life itself, your path: they can give answers to the people who doubt. Know your passion and follow it with your whole heart.”

Maria-Elena Liosi, from Greece, 6th year PhD.

#humansofoiss

Hello humans who follow OISS, and welcome back to a new season of #HUMANSOFOISS. You may have seen our gallery wall pictures last week: those are photos of some of the wonderful people who make up our international community here at Yale. Over the course of this semester, most Fridays, you will be able to find a new story featuring a new international student or scholar here on @yaleoiss.Maybe you know them, maybe you don't, but once you've read their #story, I'm sure you will want to get to know them!

This week, meet PAT DELLAGIOVANNA, affiliate fellow at the Macmillan Center in the Agrarian Studies program, and Visiting Assistant in Research for the Council on Latin American and Iberian Studies. Pat is from Argentina, and was originally only going to be here to accompany his wife on her Fox International Fellowship (I also hope to interview her this semester!) But Pat knocked on a few doors (or, more accurately, email inboxes!) and found himself in America, working on his research at Yale, advocating for graduate students and spouses as a GPSS Senator, and getting excited over his little boy's first steps! His modus operandi is admirable: “if you already got the “no,” why not go for the “yes”?” Thanks Pat!

Pat Dellagiovanna - Visiting Assistant in Research for the Council on Latin American and Iberian Studies, Affiliate Fellow of the Agrarian Studies Program at the Macmillan Center.

Read his full story in our story highlights. #humansofoiss

Vanakam! Meet Rosie, pursuing her Masters degree from the School of Environment @environmentyale ! An Amazing cook, hiker and snorkeler, Rosie never says no to creating best memories!

“I started up studying environmental science and policy but ended up as a humanity student in environmental anthropology in YSE. I grew up in a market town close to one of the most gigantic environmental management projects that dislocated millions, the Three Gorges Dam, and kept haunted by the entangled and distorted relations between humans and nature since young. A Foucauldian at heart, I am fascinated by the city, a place where society and nature, representation and being inseparable and integral to each other. This summer, I am doing my field research in Lower Manhattan Chinatown and trying to understand the contradictions, tensions, and conflicts that might form and shift the identity of Chinese in a community anchored by wet markets.” #yale #oiss #humansofoiss

Vanakam! Meet Suman, an Indian Diplomat studying at the School of Environment! Pursuing a Master of Environmental Management at @environmentyale, Suman wears multiple hats, with a decade-long experience as a senior civil servant in India, Suman brings in her expertise on international relations and contextualizing change to address the implementation gaps as a few of her interest areas.

In her words, “Grassroots needs the brightest grasshoppers. Consider going to your roots for making the lasting change.”

We are proud to feature her this week in our #humansofoiss series!

P.S: Do you remember the first love letter to Yale this year? It was Suman's, and we are happy to reshare her Love letter with the proud mom! #yale #oiss #humansofoiss

We have another wonderful #humansofOISS this Friday for you from Katerina Kargioti

Hi! I am a sophomore at Pauli Murray college studying Applied Physics. I am from a small village called Zevgolatio in northern Greece. This year I have been involved with the podcasting desk at the YDN and Yale Undergraduate Quantum Computing Group (YuQC).

Katerina is awesome

Vanakam! Have you witnessed this beautiful orchestration yet? Yale's 54-bell carillon was cast by John Taylor Bellfoundry in Loughborough, England, and installed in New Haven in 1922. These bells are played by the Guild of Carillonneurs which is made up entirely of Yale students! Next time you hear these beautiful bells on campus, take a moment to appreciate their beauty and look up at Harkness!

#yale #yaleoiss #potrait #studentlife #International #humansofoiss #oissandyou

Vanankam, Humans of OISS! Welcome, Anantha @ananthb3lyp, a postdoctoral researcher at the Molecular Biology Lab, hailing from India with a Ph.D. at Cambridge, UK, a Master's from Japan, and elegantly trained as a Kendo martial artist, Ananth has a plethora of stories to share with anyone he meets.

“I was born and raised in Madras - a coastal city in the southeast of India. Growing up in the 90s and early 2000s, I couldn't help but notice the excitement around the human genome project. So I knew from a very young age that I would be pursuing a career in Molecular Biology. So far, my academic journey has taken me across many fascinating places, including Okinawa, Nagoya, Cambridge, and Oxford. During this journey, I was fortunate to get the opportunity to learn Japanese, train in Kendo, play lots of village cricket and also dabble in writing fiction.

I moved to Yale as a postdoc in early 2020. At Yale, I am trying to understand the structures of large RNA molecules in our cells using biochemistry and structural biology approaches. Besides my interest in geopolitics and magic realism, I am also passionate about writing letters. The pandemic has taught me that there is much more to life outside of work, so I am excited to find my balance to lead a fulfilling academic life.”

#yale #yaleoiss #potrait #studentlife #International #humansofoiss #oissandyou

HUMANS OF OISS! Welcome Valerie

“Hi everyone! My name is Valerie, and I'm a junior in Pierson double majoring in Cognitive Science and S&DS. Aside from academics, I also spend a lot of time being a plant mom and writing songs (here's a short song I wrote!)

At Yale, I'm really involved with the international community, currently serving as the co-president for ISO and a peer liaison for OISS! The international community at Yale has always been my support system and where I formed so many meaningful relationships over the past three years that I really treasure.

Being from Hanoi, Vietnam, there are so many things I love and miss about my culture, and one of the things I miss the most was food. Since I haven't been back in almost two years now, I started to learn how to cook some staple Viet dishes in quarantine, and it really helped me feel connected to home. I also started baking bread - hit me up for a warm fresh loaf every now and then! Follow my food adventures at @watchmediegest” ~ Valerie

#humansofoiss #yaleinternational #yaloiss

HUMANS OF OISS! Welcome Gamze

Hey everyone! My name is Gamze. I am from Istanbul, Turkey, and I am a first year at Pauli Murray. I'm planning to study psychology and idk, something humanities:) I love studying film, writing, and reading historical fiction. At Yale, I'm currently involved with journalism, student-run review magazines, and research projects on psychology. During my spare time, you can see me listening to my jumbled playlists on Spotify or taking long walks (I'm still trying to explore NH). And a fun fact about me: Gamze means dimples, so I was named after my dimples:) Feel free to reach out to me if you want to chat!

#humansofoiss #yaleinternational #yaloiss

Vanakam! Meet Abhishek Dev @abhishekdev__, a Ph.D. student at the School of Management, our portrait of the week. Hailing from Nepal, Abhishek is a phytophile and a great host. Recently, we redesigned his space and added more organization so he could house even more plants.

“Namaste, hope y'all are staying warm. I'm Abhishek, and I come from the incredibly diverse country of Nepal. I just started my PhD in finance at SOM last semester. This year has been an uncertain and stressful time for all of us. It has been especially challenging for first-years who haven't been able to connect with their peers and engage with the Yale community. Like most, my classes have been remote and I haven't ventured out much either–basically, I haven't had much of social life. Apart from the few friends I've got to know this past semester, the plants have been keeping me sane indoors.

Cultivating greenery at my apartment has been very comforting and therapeutic. This has been a great way to preoccupy me. They have helped keep the humidity high in winter, and I'm sure they are doing their magic and purifying the air. We need plants more than ever living in enclosed space. And all of my plants have brought joy and life into my living space. Even though I don't like to admit it in front of my plants, I certainly do have my favorites. All plants are equal, but some plants are more equal than others. Every time I see a new budding leaf of my Ficus microcarpa (aka Chinese Banyan) bonsai, it brings me the most joy. Hope to spread this happiness and share cuttings with folks!”

#yale #yaleoiss #potrait #studentlife #International #humansofoiss #oissandyou

Today we introduce you to Maddy Tessier-Kay, the last (but certainly not least) member of our Orientation Team!

“My name is Maddy Tessier-Kay and I will be a second-year MPH student studying chronic disease epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health. I'm originally from outside of Philadelphia and graduated from Harvard College in 2019. A few of my favorite things on campus include Monday night trivia at Gryphon's Pub, swimming at Payne Whitney, and attending shows at the Yale Cabaret. I've absolutely loved my time at Yale so far and can't wait to meet you all!”

#humansofoiss #yaleoiss #yale

This week, help us welcome Robin (Yajie) Wang to our Orientation Team!

“I hold a B.A. in English Literature from Beijing Foreign Studies University. I was a Yenching Scholar in Chinese Public Policy at Peking University. I also hold a MPhil in International Relations from the University of Oxford, UK. At Yale, I am currently a second-year PhD student in Political Science while working on my Masters degree in Statistics. I specialize in political economy and quantitative research method.

I'm a big movie nerd, cooking enthusiast, and basketball fanatic. In the pre-COVID-19 world, a good workout at Payne Whitney and fried chicken from Bonchon would make me the happiest man in New Haven.”

We are thrilled to have Robin as one of our Orientation Assistants this year!

#humansofoiss #yaleoiss #yale

Today, we introduce you to Kay Ellison, another member of our amazing Orientation Team!

“Hi, I'm Kay! I was born in Finland and grew up in Italy and the UK. I'm a rising second year in the Neuroscience track of BBS at the Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. I really enjoy spending time outdoors, and since moving over I have enjoyed exploring New Haven and the surrounding area. Some particular highlights have been biking along the coast and climbing to the top of East Rock Park to watch the sunset. You can also often find me trying out the many local restaurants and bars, which I am always happy to give recommendations for (I have a spreadsheet of all the happy hours!).”

Look for some of her recommendations on our CampusGroups page in the coming weeks. https://bit.ly/2Wg6kY0

#yaleoiss #humansofoiss

Over the next four weeks, we will introduce you to this year's Orientation Assistants (OAs) for our Graduate & Professional Students. Our OAs are here to help incoming G&P students, and will be posting regularly on our CampusGroups page with tips and advice for the new class! Help us welcome each of them to the OISS team.

Today, meet Joanna Chen. “I am originally from China and am a biostatistics student in the Yale School of Public Health. I love Sally's Apizza and the food trucks near the med school! Before college, I was a professional music student and to this day still love to play the piano.” She can't wait to work with all of you!

#yaleoiss #yale #humansofoiss

Our last featured portrait of the summer is of Mehmet Adin, a scholar at the Yale School of Medicine.

“Growing up in a small countryside town in Turkey, I was fascinated with living creatures. Be it observing a caterpillar transforming into a beautiful butterfly, or the body of an ordinary animal, I was always observing and investigating their mystery. In my adolescence, this fervent curiosity about the natural world evolved into a passion for the study of human body.

Determined to become a physician scientist, I studied hard and was lucky enough to work in some of the greatest institutions during this journey. I don't believe in work and life balance. They are indivisible, like a beautiful cocktail. You can not get the same taste when you separate them. In this regard, Yale and New Haven provide a great environment for me. The city is just like a giant campus where you live in, dine in, hike in, work in, so on and so forth.

I'm a clinician, but I can't think of practicing medicine without performing research, same cocktail analogy. Although my field of interest is Neuoradiology, for now I am working on prediction of treatment success and prognostication of lung cancer that is treated with SBRT. Since the pandemic arrived, we have been striving to further our understanding of COVID-19, focusing on the neurological ramifications of COVID-19. We are truly witnessing a historical period. We want to do our part, along with our great community here at Yale, nationally, and internationally.

Medicine is a field of “giving”. Your time, your energy, your mind, your love, your compassion, and honestly, your life. So we will keep giving, be it in a pandemic or not.”

Thank you for all of your amazing work you're doing Mehmet! We are beyond grateful.

@surbhib42 #humansofoiss @yaleschoolofmed

Today, we are excited to feature the portrait of Stephanie Redden who works as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition.

“I was born and raised in rural Nova Scotia. I came to Yale after finishing my PhD in Political Science and working as a policy analyst for the Canadian government working on mainstreaming gender issues.

At Yale I am the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition's 2019- 2020 Human Trafficking and Modern Day Slavery Postdoctoral Fellow. I am examining the use of prisoners as call center labor in the United States. I am critically analyzing the gendered and radicalized aspects of this work.I also taught my dream course–Gender, Race, and the Everyday Politics of the Global Political Economy–in the spring semester. The students in the class are so impressive; it has really been a pleasure to teach!

With the library closures due to the pandemic I was unable to continue with my archival research and I had to translate my seminar course into an online course very quickly. While all the uncertainty has certainly been tough, especially given the limited time I have left at the university, I am just doing my best to stay positive and stay as productive as I can. To help deal with the stress, I have been taking lots of safe social distancing walks around New Haven, which has allowed me to see parts of the campus and town I had not explored before.”

@surbhib42 #humansofoiss

This week, our portrait features Kajetana Bevc, a visiting scholar at the Yale School of Medicine.

“I was born and raised in Ljubljana, Slovenia. After leaving to study Immunology in Vienna, Austria I got the opportunity to come to Yale for a year and work on my thesis.

Because of the pandemic, I unfortunately had to go back to Slovenia a month earlier than planned, as the laboratory closed and all classes were cancelled. Here, I am spending my time indoors with my family, writing my thesis and catching up on some reading. Alongside that I am trying to help somehow in this pandemic–I made a podcast on the importance of social distancing and am offering to volunteer at the local diagnostic laboratory.”

@surbhib42 #humansofoiss

Today we are featuring the story and portrait of Tom Reershemius, a PhD student at the Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

“I'm a geochemist which means I look at samples of sedimentary rocks I collect in the field using mass spectrometers. The composition of these rocks can tell us a lot about the environment at the time they were deposited, and incorporating our results into models we can simulate the evolution of the Earth's climate and major biogeochemical cycles over time. Over the past half century a lot of fundamental work in this field was carried out at Yale, so it's thrilling being here - half a year into my PhD the novelty still hasn't worn off.

My lab is currently in lockdown, along with the whole Earth and Planetary Sciences Department. I'm now back in the UK, waiting for the pandemic to end and catching up on reading that I suddenly have a lot of time to do. Other than volunteering to do the shopping for vulnerable neighbors and signing up to call and chat to people feeling isolated and lonely because of the shutdown, there's not a lot I can do to help - which makes me feel powerless and very lucky at the same time.

Hearing from family and friends in Germany, Israel, the USA and elsewhere really gives a sense of how global the challenge we're facing is. Will we learn from this that to combat problems that affect all of us, radically and collectively changing our way of life is the only sensible course of action?”

@surbhib42 #humansofoiss

In today's portrait we are featuring Olivia Tan. We hope to see you back on campus Olivia!

“I was born and raised in Singapore and studied at the National University of Singapore for my Bachelor's degree. In August 2019, I was fortunate to be able to come to Yale for an academic year-long exchange - an amazing experience that I will never forget. Although my time at Yale was terminated rather abruptly by the COVID-19 pandemic, the support provided by my friends, professors, and administration at Yale has been so touching. Currently, I am back in Singapore but will definitely return to Yale in the near future and drink my daily constant - Willoughby's Chai Latte.”

@surbhib42 #humansofoiss @willoughbyscoffee_nhv

Today's portrait is of Urvi Talaty, a master's student at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.

“As a student at the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, I am always thinking of my role in terms of the larger society and the impact that individual and collective action can have on the world. With the pandemic, I'm spending even more time with myself, which has really driven me to think, very closely, about not only my priorities and the things I value, but also the privilege I have and how I can use it to impact others.

Without taking away from the gravity of the situation, I think in a way the crisis has pushed me to evaluate my motivations for my future and realize that there's always going to be uncertainty in life. It could be large or minuscule, but sometimes I've just gotta take the plunge.”

@surbhib42 @yalefes #humansofoiss

Today's portrait is of Tim Moore, a PhD student from the United Kingdom who's working on his thesis which looks at the intersections between English, History, and Psychotherapy.

“I've spent my academic life in Oxford and London. Yale has been an amazing experience for me - I never had the opportunity to travel when growing-up, and so coming here was the first time I'd been in a non-European country.

It's been fascinating to witness American culture, especially in the time of Trump. My favourite thing about Yale is the architecture - it's a beautiful campus, and the imitated-Gothic style buildings made it easier to feel at home. I also love the richness and variety of the queer culture at Yale - it can't be rivaled.”

@surbhib42 #humansofoiss

Today's portrait is of Sharon Joy Kwinjo, a senior from Zimbabwe in Pauli Murray College.

“I was born and raised in Harare, Zimbabwe and my first trip to Yale in August 2016 was my first time ever travelling internationally alone, and it was my first time leaving Southern Africa, but I wasn't scared at all. I was excited and I was very grateful.I hadn't looked up much about Yale (honestly, the YouTube video “That's Why I Chose Yale” is why I chose Yale). I took a blind leap but I trusted the people (e.g. Ozan & Ann from OISS) who had their arms reaching out to catch me.

One of the most unexpected things I had to confront when I got to Yale was my name (!!!), simply figuring out whether I was going to be known as Sharon or as Joy. I had always used Sharon at school and Joy at home, but all of sudden the two had become one! Yale was both school and home. The end result was not clean - I ultimately decided that I had no preference and so some of my Yale friends call me Sharon, some Joy, some Sharon Joy, and some SJ.

I've spent a lot of the last four years singing with @livingwateratyale. This community has been my biggest blessing at Yale, a family that combined two of my great loves, God and music (if you hadn't guessed, I'm singing in this picture). I have made friendships far stronger than I could have ever thought possible and been more vulnerable than I imagined I could be through this community that has encouraged me when I was down and rebuked me (in love) when I was dumb.

Outside of Living Water, I've been a part of the African Students Association, the Federalist Party at Yale and a Pauli Murray College FroCo (and others). Approaching some of these organisations, especially the Yale political Union, from the lens of an international student has at times been challenging but it has also forced me to grow. I'm always down to discuss the good and the bad parts of my experience and of Yale in general (so let me know if you want to). Yale has been a wonderfully painful and joyous journey and I wouldn't trade any part of it (even horrible sophomore year).”

Congratulations Sharon Joy on your upcoming graduation! #humansofoiss @surbhib42

Today's portrait features Eduardo Custodio Leal, an undergraduate majoring in Chemical Engineering and Statistics & Data Science with a concentration in Energy Studies.

“I was born and raised in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. All of my family has been here for several generations, so I'd only visited places outside of my hometown during family trips. Going to college abroad had been my biggest dream since I can remember–my parents always encouraged me to work hard so I could fulfill this goal. Many teachers in high school doubted my ability and said that I would never be able to get a scholarship in the U.S., but many others believed in me and helped me get through the application process. Filling out college applications was especially hard because very few people do it in Brazil, let alone in my city.

Getting that acceptance letter from Yale was one of the most rewarding moments of my life. Because I'd spent all of my time focusing on academics and extracurriculars, I had never really contemplated the cultural shock that would come with moving to a different country. I struggled a lot during my first year to make friends and navigate new spaces, with an extra layer of not being able to express myself properly in a foreign language and according to a whole different set of social norms. Whenever I translated inside my head a sentence I would usually say in Portuguese at a given situation, it would come across entirely wrong to my colleagues.

In the end of my first year I applied to be a peer liaison at La Casa Cultural: The Latino Cultural Center at Yale. I felt that the relationship between the Brazilian community on campus and the center was complicated, since many Brazilians couldn't see themselves represented in that space. When I applied, I hoped to be able to help the center become the space I wish I had been a part of during my first year. I have been working at La Casa for two years now, and the community there has provided me with the support I needed to flourish at Yale.”

Photo Credit: @surbhib42 #humansofoiss @lacasacultural

Today, we are featuring the portrait of Brianna Jackson, a PhD nursing student at the Yale School of Nursing. . “I'm a proud Canadian and have called the province of Ontario home. Even though Canada and the United States are neighbors, I often describe my experience moving to the U.S. as transitioning to an alternate reality - that is, the same, but different!

From adjusting to monochromatic currency to super-sized food portions to imperial measurements, I'm definitely a fish out of water. I moved to New Haven last summer to pursue my PhD in Nursing. As a Registered Nurse, I specialize in adolescent and emerging adult mental health, and particularly enjoy working with marginalized youth. I'm passionate about trauma-and violence-informed care, and am fascinated by the concept of resilience.

Since the Coronavirus pandemic began, I've been thinking a lot about how individuals, families, and communities cope during times of incredible adversity. With the added complexity of physical distancing, how do we maintain social cohesion and demonstrate empathy?

I started a little creative side project called Kindness Coalition (@kindness.coalition). Every morning I post a new kindness challenge on social media for followers to participate in. My hope is to keep both myself and others feeling energized and (virtually) connected over the next few months. We've all been negatively impacted by COVID-19 in one way or another, so I figure now, more than ever, it's important to be kind to one another.”

@surbhib42 #humansofoiss

In today's portrait, we are featuring one of Yale MacMillan Center's Fox Fellows, Moe Thuzar from Myanmar.

“As a child of diplomats, and as a lapsed member of the Burmese foreign service myself, I have always felt between two worlds. I have seen both sides of the policy-making process: the internal negotiations leading to decisions, and the effects of those decisions on everyday life. Telling the story of this 'lived experience' of foreign policy became the focus of my long-delayed PhD studies, after a three-decade transition from a foreign service officer to a regional civil servant, and finally an academic.

Throughout these years, I had been unconsciously trying to find myself and a place to fit in between different worlds. Coming to Yale as a Fox International Fellow has helped me complete that transition. My desire to tell the story of how people cope in difficult and challenging circumstances, albeit in the context of foreign policy implementation, has taken on a deeper meaning as I walk through an empty campus silent under the social distancing measures to stop the Coronavirus spread.

My memories of Yale will be of this time, made all the more poignant as I recall the wonderment I felt when first engaging with Yale's rich array of intellectual and archival resources. Thoughtful conversations I have had with members of the Yale community and my fellow Foxes have helped me gain better clarity and focus for my learning journey, as well as illuminating what matters most in my life.”

@surbhib42 #humansofoiss

This week, we are featuring the portrait of Mancy Tong, a third year postdoc at the Yale School of Medicine where she studies how the maternal immune system responds to infection and potentially causes pre-term birth. Mancy was born in Hong Kong, grew up in New Zealand, and came to New Haven three years ago.

“During my time here, I have learned a lot and really enjoyed meeting people from all walks of life. During this challenging time, my thoughts are with my friends and family from all around the world and I want to tell them: “Kia Kaha” - Stay safe, stay strong, we will all get through this together.”

@surbhib42 #humansofoiss

This spring, one of our incredibly talented international undergrads, Surbhi Bharadwaj, has been working on an exciting photo project for our office. In January, we put out a call to our international community asking those interested to sign-up to have their photo taken by Surbhi to be featured on one of our walls in the OISS office.

While it might be a few months before we can physically hang these photos in our office, we have decided to bring them to you virtually! Each week we will feature one of her portraits, along with an insight from each of the students/scholars pictured.

This week, we are starting with Chang Su, a current medical student at the Yale School of Medicine.

“Everything changed way too quickly. Within four days, my research lab was shut down, I was told to move to a new place, and started my sub-internship in internal medicine. Since the COVID lock down, I have been working in the hospital. It feels very strange to be in the hospital now. To socially distance, most educational activities are cancelled, we are discouraged to spend time in patients’ rooms, and there is always the overhanging cloud that we would all catch COVID19 especially due to the severe shortage of PPEs. Nevertheless, I am trying my best to learn how to become an intern hopefully next year, and to deliver the best care possible to my patients. After all, I am here to help. Helping people was the reason why I, and probably most of us, choose medicine. Please stay safe.”

Chang Su, we hope YOU stay safe, and on behalf of the entire Yale and New Haven community, we thank you for your service.

@surbhib42 #humansofoiss

“Being an international student impacts the way you interact with others & the way they interact with you. When you first come here, everything is so new, you're learning so much about America & everyone has an accent different to your own. Then you realize it affects the way people see you, for better or for worse. Some people treat you as something special, while others assume things about you that simply aren't true. The classics are that every international student comes from a wealthy household, and if I'm ever asked to repeat the word “tomato” again I might cry.

Thankfully, as people get to know you, superficial things like accents become decreasingly important. At the beginning of freshman year, my accent was commented on probably once an hour. Now, it happen only once or twice a week. I feel myself fitting in & adjusting to life here. The weirdest thing about that though is you kind of lose your sense of identity. When I go home & speak to my friends, I use American slang which I'm not even aware is American. When I come here, I use British slang which people similarly don't understand. There are very few people that can relate to your experience. People here have no idea what my hometown is like & people from home have no idea what Yale is like. I'm losing any idea of who I am, what I want to be & who I identify as. It's exciting in one sense, but in another it's extremely conflicting.

The months following spring break of my first year was a trying time for me. Things were changing at home, which made me feel as though I was trapped 4000 miles away, with no power to help those I was close to. There were just so many personal things going on that I wanted nothing more than to break out & go home. I finished my exams on May 7th & was home by May 8th. I was that desperate to get out of here. In comparison, this May, I had no desire to go home. The weather was getting nice, I was starting new relationships that I was really excited about & I was just very happy to be here with my job, having a good time, reading & relaxing; I felt I was making something of myself. 1 year has changed everything

Overall, my time at Yale has really been characterized by not knowing what I want to do with myself, which can be a great thing & if you're going to be thinking the way I have been, Yale's the perfect place to do it. 10 years from now I know I want to make a difference in someone's life somewhere. I want to be happy. Find a good family life. Have good relationships with people. Have good friends that can support me. And hopefully be doing something good during the day & have good people to talk to at night. 3 years ago I didn't know I was going to study in America, so who knows what 10 years will bring.”

- Joe Peck, Yale College '21 #humansofoiss

“Ever since I was a child, riding scooters with a smile on my face, my family knew I was a free spirit. I'm from Denia, in the Spanish province of Alicante, and the only one from my family to have left home. At 16, I came to the U.S. for a year-long foreign exchange program and fell in love with this country. So I'm not 100% sure where 'home' is.

I came to Yale because my PI in Alicante needed someone for a short stay in a lab abroad. Even though I was the youngest person in the lab, I was the only one who wanted to travel, so they picked me. It was to be a 4-month stay, but I really loved my supervisors & what I was learning. I felt much more productive here, so I found ways to stay even longer-I'm on track to finishing my PhD. I'll graduate from the University of Alicante with an international degree & will become a postdoc afterwards. I was doing some analysis for the labs in Spain while at Yale; my PI back home didn't want me to leave, but he knew it was selfish to ignore the fact that I had better career possibilities here.

I feel I've grown so much by meeting so many career-oriented people here. I used to live in an international house with 13 other med students. Learning how driven and perseverent they are helped me realize being here is a huge opportunity, and I should give my best in everything I do.

Being here alone, I also learned to care for myself, and find my own space & time-which is something many of us forget to do. At home, it happens less often because I have social and family obligations. Here, you're able to choose what you want to do & find yourself enjoying unexpected activities. For me, it's hiking and being outdoors. I'm also a foodie; I love to cook, and try different cuisines across New Haven's restaurants.

If I could give advice to my 10-year-old self, I would remind her to not be so self-conscious, and to take care of and love herself a little more.”- Mar Giner-Calabuig, YMS #HumansOfOISS

“I was born in Belgium & grew up in London since age 3. Weirdly, I can't vote in any of the countries I care for. In Belgium, I have no community other than family, since I left so young. I care so much about the UK & Brexit, but can do nothing about it politically because I wasn't born there. Just when I was becoming a “Londoner” & involved in community work, I left for Yale. I've spent 2 years grappling with American politics, Yale's relationship to New Haven & other issues I had no knowledge of before. I've become so passionate about the things I've learned, I forget my VISA expires in 3 years. I invest so much time immersing myself in the present & catching up on all this knowledge, it's hard sometimes because I don't feel I can fully be anywhere without eventually leaving.

I plan on being in New Haven for the summer & won't be home until August. Though I don't usually believe in national sensibility, there's definitely something I really miss about London, its norms & what it means to just be in the city. One of them is pub culture. Pubs are democratic spaces, where the elderly coalesce with artists & businessmen alike. I can't think of anyone I know back home who doesn't frequent them & yet it's something that does not exist in my life here.

In my musical improv comedy group at Yale, we work a lot on rhyming in songs & its hard sometimes because the “american pronunciation” of so many words is different - like “chance & romance” don't rhyme in British English but does in American English.

As someone studying anthropology, I try to be cognizant of my surroundings. There's moments where I think I've grown here, but don't know exactly why. For example, to be queer has its own vocabulary here that I'd never encountered. Americans have so many expanded ideas, that I probably wouldn't have gotten back home. I can't tell if that's because queer friends & I are all young, all Yalies, or all in the US? Similarly, by being here I realize how complicated and painful the state of this country is- but I also don't know if it's due to my classes, the people I'm around, or just how I see the world. It all blurs.” Max Himpe, Yale College '21 #HumansOfOISS

“I enjoy being busy, especially when that involves work I truly love. Before coming to the US, I was extremely busy as a physician conducting experiments, and also a mother. When my husband, who is currently an Associate Research Scientist (ARS) at the Yale Medical School, came to the US in 2017, I was simultaneously working as a dermatologist and completing my PhD in dermatology in Japan. Since I was so enthusiastic in my clinical work and research, I did not want to suspend them, and finally joined my family after graduation last year. In Japan I worked 24/7, taking care of the inpatient ward and outpatient clinic, guiding young interns at the hospital, giving lectures to medical and nursing students in the university, handling cells and performing experiments on mice, and - most importantly - spending quality time with my lovely daughter and family. I never felt tired and have always been passionate about my work and life.

Life is too short, and there are still too many things that I have always wanted to do, but never had enough time to accomplish. After I came here, I decided to challenge myself to do all the things that I would not able to do while working as a physician in Japan. I learned to speak Japanese, English, Taiwanese, Chinese, and some German; next, I decided to pick up Spanish, Italian, and Korean. I also immerse myself in trying new hobbies and activities, such as taking piano lessons, learning ballroom dances, running the Yale International Cooking Club, and teaching cooking and baking classes. Most recently, I received my seventh certification; besides holding a physician license, scuba diving license, cooking license, baking instructor certification, royal icing sugar cookies instructor certification, and, of course, a driver's license, I am now a certified bartender as well.”I also love all kinds of art like music and painting. In fact, I was a vocalist and sang in a band for 3 years during college. Recently, I am obsessed with painting abstract paintings. Djoulia - one of my best friends, whom I met at Yale - is a professional artist. She returned to France last year, and we are planning to hold an art exhibition together in France this year!

Though technically I am Japanese, I was born and raised in Germany until the age of 9, when my family moved to Taiwan. After spending junior and senior high school there, we moved back to Japan. I have moved and traveled around more than 20 countries; perhaps because of my multicultural background, starting life in New Haven wasn't as challenging for me as it seems to be for some others. The OISS made my transition here a very pleasant experience. Last year, I joined almost all activity groups I could at OISS and volunteered to help with the orientation for spouses and partners of Yale's international affiliates. One of the biggest surprises I discovered after arriving here was the diversity of the people around me. In Japan, Japanese is the only language you need. But here, there are a huge variety of people using multiple languages. Since I speak several languages, which I never used when living in Japan, I easily make friends here from all over the world. Thanks to the OISS, I have met tons of awesome people from different cultures with different backgrounds.

One of the most beautiful things about Yale is the people. I feel grateful to be around so many brilliant and wonderful people, and every single day I learn something new and feel inspired. I do not know how long we are going to stay here, but I know I will not waste any minute; I will keep challenging myself, and I will live life to the fullest.”

- Ellen Toyonaga, OISS spouse #HumansOfOISS

“I was born and raised in Nakuru, Kenya. My family and I have a complicated relationship. Growing up, I was very close to them, especially since I only have 2 brothers. After leaving for boarding school in South Africa, our relationship grew more complicated. I was discovering things about myself that my family wasn't as comfortable learning, so I found myself living almost a double life. The 'me' at school and the 'me' at home were not the same person; at home I would need to cover things up.

I've had to learn to be independent from life's necessities. There's things I hadn't known about myself simply because I didn't have the right people to talk about it with while growing up. Coming to Yale was less about learning to be “independent”, and more about identifying what I wanted to create in this new space. I think a lot about my interactions with others, and how they affect the person I want to become.

Here, I've gained clarity in understanding what's important to me-I'm a lot more involved with the LGBTQ+ community, something I never had the chance to be involved in back home. But queerness isn't something many people are comfortable with in the black community, so I don't know how that will manifest itself after my life at Yale.

For most of my life, I was interested in medicine. Growing up-when I was still very close to my family-my dad contracted meningitis. Not knowing how to treat it, and sitting there waiting for him to get better, my motivation for studying chemistry came from wanting to make a difference in people's health. For most of my life I assumed there's a story I'm supposed to be building, and need to live up to. But I also need to enjoy the moments I'm living in right now, and chemistry doesn't fit. I'm trying to diversify and find things I'm actually interested in learning, to fit that into my “journey” later on.” -Felix Morara, '22 #HumansOfOISS

“I was born in Hong Kong, but my family moved to Auckland when I was 9. My journey to Yale began within the week of my thesis submission in 2017, I packed up everything, came over to America & started my new life. What an amazing journey it has been so far!

My first year here was super busy with establishing protocols in the lab & getting used to the American culture. I often felt like I was missing out on a lot from home. I grew up in a small family; it was just my parents & my younger brother-though I always thought of him more like an older brother. Whenever I called my family they'd give updates, but I still felt like I had no idea what was happening & I hated it. So my brother & I started setting times to call & check in. Some of my friends laugh at me about this but it has really helped us stay in touch, even with the crazy 16 hour time difference. I used to get so homesick whenever I traveled, but with social media & WeChat, it's so much easier to stay in touch these days.

I felt very much at home in New Zealand; my parents took care of everything for me. But when you go to a new country, you need to start a new life & re-build all your social circles. Since I had spent my whole life in New Zealand-at the same institute for all my university studies & the same lab for my PhD- I was always in an environment where I knew who I could go to for what. Here, I quickly realized that I was in a very small lab & everyone had their own life outside of it. I was also the only postdoc & international trainee.

I always thought of myself as quite an introverted & a shy person, but once you no longer have people you can go to immediately, I discovered I was stronger & more social than I ever realized. I started going to events & happy hours organized by the YPA & OISS to meet new people & make friends. My circles quickly expanded & I connected with many other like-minded people at Yale. I'm so glad I noticed this need early on & took action to remedy the situation. It was challenging at first, but now I love my new home & my new friends. - Mancy Tong, Postdoctoral Associate #HumansofOISS

“My favorite part of Yale has been the community the international student body provides. For my first 3 years I was involved in OIS, which was one of the most wonderful & rewarding experiences of my time at Yale. There is something incredibly special about bringing together people from different parts of the world & seeing how quickly they grow close to each other-partly because they have the shared experience of being far away from home. Being part of the OIS team gave me the chance to both witness friendships blossoming & also to feed off the energy personally. Every year I partook in OIS I learned more about myself & how to better understand & support others.

Comparing my Yale experience to growing up in my native Greece, I feel the culture Yale promotes is different to the one I was raised in, in a way that, at times, made me feel out of place. I come from a place where people place their relationships to other people above all else. That was something I occasionally felt was missing from Yale as a whole but I always felt my international friends & mentors really understood me in that regard. Within the international community, I have never felt like I was putting more into my relationships than my friends were. It's been magical to meet people from such different backgrounds & yet not have to explain or vocalize the way you feel, because they just get you.

My family is very proud of the fact I am here. While I've personally loved being in such a different environment & think it's helped me grow in unexpected ways, it has also sometimes made me feel culturally disconnected from my family. However, being at Yale has made me appreciate them more & grow closer to them in a different way because, now that we live in different continents, we can no longer take each other for granted. There are a lot of times where I feel that Yale changed me in ways that prevent me from having the same kinds of relationships I once had with my friends at home. At the same time, it also taught me to be all the more intentional in my relationships because it has required so much more effort to maintain them in my life. - Sophia Catsambi, Yale College '19 #HumansofOISS

“The most beautiful things about Yale are all the people you meet. When I arrived on campus for the Orientation for International Students (OIS), I was sad to see my mom leave. It suddenly hit me that I was 2 oceans away from everything I knew to be familiar, and everyone I loved. I was now in a new place where I'm just another face–another student in a class. I started to feel small and invisible. At Yale though, since you have access to all these different spaces, I learned the importance of actively choosing the people you surround yourself with. You start chatting with the people next you in lecture halls. You run into familiar faces from OIS. I made great friends. It took me about one year to feel I was “more than just a face”, but now, as a junior, I feel I have a place here both intellectually and socially.”

– Jemimah Orevaoghene, Yale College '19 #HumansOfOISS .

#Yale @YaleOISS (Office of International Students and Scholars) #YaleOISS #YaleInternational #internationalstudents #studentlife .

“I was born in London, but spent my childhood in Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Puerto Rico, and Miami before coming to Yale. My upbringing was both composed and defined by change. The only constants were the three other people living through it all with me. As a result, I am completed by my family, and am nothing without them. My brother is the centre of my life, my mom is my best friend, and my dad is my hero. Having each other was the only source of solid ground–especially when we felt most alone.

My parents have always put my brother and I first, without exception, and without question. I don't know if I have ever seen that kind of love in other people, or how I can repay them for that.

Moving around wasn't easy, but I can't be more grateful for having lived so much in such little time. It's fundamentally and irrevocably framed the way I see the world around me, and what I want to do with my life. I hope I can one day go back to Latin America and do my part to make it a better place. It is a region with such beautiful people, and such potential, that it bothers me when I see kids on the television feeling 'hungry for water', or that my mother has already lived through 4 economic crises. These are problems the majority of people face worldwide, but Latin America is my home. And I need to protect it.

On my first day at Yale, my mom left me a little note on my bed. I remember sitting down in my new common room, opening the note, and just crying. I think it was just the first time that I processed I felt a complete departure from my childhood. My roommate thought I was crazy (it's ok though, we're best friends now). I actually still have the note. I read it when I get homesick.

Yale is my family, and my home now. I have found mentors wiser than I could have imagined, even though they are only one or two years older than me. I love dancing around to music (especially deep house, honestly I enjoy that to an absurd degree) with people who make me better every day. I don't know. I just really think there is so much to be happy about.”

- Valentina Wakeman, writer for this semester's #HumansOfOISS series!

“I was born in South Korea, but I grew up in the Philippines. Not really returning to Korea, felt very much like never being “home”. I had to both reimagine and recreate that feeling with the friends and communities I was with.

I would only go back during summers, feeling more estranged than ever. My Korean is not fluent, and people gave me weird looks when they realised that. It was like they didn't question my racial identity, but they did doubt my cultural identity and linguistic ability. I had to pretend to be someone I wasn't. Korea felt like a vacation, not like home.
Now, at the Yale Divinity School, my research interests lie in understanding how human bodies were constructed in classical Greece and Rome. I've found fascinating Biblical passages about both physical and psychological disability. It's fundamentally changed the way I view my friendships. To many people who go through disabilities, their circumstances become their identity, and we need to recognise that.

As part of the Divinity School program, I currently do ministry at a local Korean church. Though I'm Christian, I noticed the kind of Christianity I faced at my church was limiting; it faced a lot of generational and cultural tensions. I felt they were telling me what to believe in; I simply didn't buy that. Because I am a professional, the challenge is figuring out how to subvert some of these ideas in a way that isn't perceived by the “elders.” Working with 6th graders allows children to share their life stories with me, because most of them have grown up as second-generation Koreans who have bilingual and bicultural backgrounds that give them difficulties similar to mine. I try to help them any way that I can, so in a way this experience has given me both the greatest joy and greatest sadness during my time here.”

Joseph (Sang Wuk) Lee, MDiv Candidate '19 #HumansOfOISS

“I grew up near Henley, where rowing is everything. Upperclassmen in my school were famous for winning the famous Henley Regattas every year. I admired them greatly for their success, and thought I could maybe create my own athletic potential. So I started training. I had no idea what I was doing, but there was a rowing machine in the shed, and a couple of weights. One day, I broke one of our school records, which boosted my confidence. Ambition somewhat followed achievements; the school record turned into a world record, and contemplating the Olympics first came at the age of 15. I wasn't particularly athletic growing up, so I was scared of the demand the sport has at its peak, both physically and mentally. I still fear it to a small extent. I think everyone does.

At Yale, my team is the product of our individual hard work, but I truly believe you get the most out of any sport when you do it for others.The closer you are as a team, the more you admire each other, the better you race. Yale was actually the last collegiate crew to win the Olympics in 1956. We had a visiting coach visit tell us about that moment, and the bonds created between the 9 guys on the boat. Trophies can motivate you to sacrifice yourself in the pursuit of a common goal, but it's so much more enjoyable when you can accomplish that with a team.

I love what I do, but I sometimes fear missing out. When I'm not rowing, I feel irresponsible; when I'm training, I feel guilty. I make sure I fulfill every minute necessary to keep up my rowing and academics, but also try exposing myself to new things as much as I possibly can. I took tango lessons, actually–those were rewarding because they were so different. But at the end of the day, it's in my character to want to work harder and sacrifice things, it's just the way I am.”

- Tom Digby '20 #HumansOfOISS

“I grew up in Nairobi. I always knew I wanted med school, and have always been both outspoken and academic. I'm also a feminist, even though my family doesn't understand that; my older brother & father especially. As much as they support me, I've always been misunderstood. They think I'm too radical; my dad even told me that feminism “is a cult”. I've always been the little girl in my family, and in African communities, males are heavily celebrated. There have been female genocides, where mothers kill their own female babies because they are ashamed to bear them. Coming to the U.S., I quickly found relief in a place where women's rights were both celebrated and studied academically. This intersection of my passions & beliefs brought me to double major in History of Science and Medicine, and WGSS (Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies). What I love most about Yale are the women and faculty I have access to. My first encounter was with Paula Kavathas, from the School of Medicine's immunology department.

She would literally call me during finals season with words of encouragement, reminding me how strong I am as a woman. I have similar relationships with Dr. Christine Ngaruiya in emergency medicine, and Maria Trumpler, the Director of the Office of LGBTQ Resources. All of the women at Yale have the strength to be who they are, and strongly encourage others to follow their examples and become leaders in their fields.

Coming to Yale, however, I definitely faced challenges. I didn't “know I was black” until I came to the U.S. People assume I am African-American, not African, and they don't understand that the two are different, and the assumptions you make about each of them are too.

I also consider myself very religious. When people ask, “Who are you?”, I like to answer with an explanation: I feel I'm made from God, and that he resides within me. My discipline, self-worth, mental peace, love, and joy come from that. I am Faith. And God is in me, just like in the Color Purple, where God is in the trees and in the birds and in you and me.”

-Faith Chumo '20. Check out her blog on feminism at hadithizaimani.wordpress.com! #HumansOfOISS

“The things I care most about at Yale may be my current involvement in recent projects, but they are centered around topics that I have been grappling with my whole life.

People often look at domination as a way to approach human relationships, and think that if they manage to dominate another person, in their minds they will become successful– and there, this dynamic becomes an ideal. But the moment you call out power for being powerful, it collapses onto itself. Through my studies and conversations here, a lot of the anger and distaste I had for the world around me, about abstract and vague things, now started making sense to me. I feel more motivated now, because I know what I'm fighting for. I'm trying to change the ideal of masculinity and its perception as the path to success. I don't want fight it through anger, but through the joy and subjectivities literature has brought to me, so I can highlight the stories of those who are more often than not forgotten.

Women have been the only support in my life. Whenever I needed someone, God sent one to my rescue. A lot of people don't treat women as real people, even if they treat them kindly. The entire half of a population– the only reason I am alive, confident, and happy, are very much let down all the time. But even though women are so oppressed, they are at least allowed to be honest with themselves about their reality. Men are told to hide their emotions, and since they cannot be honest with themselves, they settle for being “unhappy, but successful.” And I cannot believe people are ok with never being happy.

Through my English major, I now have the opportunity to study race and gender through the lens of literature, for the purpose of human rights. For example, I wrote and directed a play last year where I took the tool of literature to talk about what the experience of the brown femme student at Yale is. Writing the play made me understand how I feel my brownness is perceived here, and where in the social stratosphere I stood as a gay, international man from Lahore. I know what I want– not what I have been told to want– and I now know who I am.”

-Zulfiqar Mannan '20 #HumansOfOISS

“Hello world! I am Devyani Aggarwal, a native of New Delhi and a final-year student at Yale College. I am a History and French major, heading to Cambridge University for an MPhil program this fall. I know a thing or two about art, culture and politics. I hope to some day be an advocate for artisanal communities in developing countries. Other things that keep me on my toes include quirky movies, cooking experiments, coffee with nutty notes and moments with my dog Milo.” This succint, yet colourful self-description are the first words on the home page of her website, which also showcases her photography and written publications for the Yale Daily News. As a high school senior, Devyani conducted an independent research project tracing the social and cultural history of India's minority Jewish community, and has used her Yale experience to deepen and broaden her limitless curiosity, illustrating answers to even the most abstract and complex of questions. Her radiant smile and true passion for the intricacies of humankind are the building blocks for her next steps at Cambridge, after which she hopes to dedicate her life to international law and diplomacy. Her senior project in history at the university– which explored the lives of British India's forgotten princesses, the Maharanis– was featured on Yale's Women's Faculty Forum (WFF). This project sought to reverse the “imperial” gaze: instead of emphasizing the well-known fascination of the Western man with exotic Asian aesthetics, Devyani chose to reveal the contrary power dynamic by studying the Indian woman's connoisseurship of Western objects and ideas. Winner of the WFF Seed Grant, she also hopes to present and develop her findings on colonial politics, currently in the midst of conceptualizing a book based on her thesis. Congratulations, Devyani! Yet another example of the incredible, inspiring, empowering #HumansOfOISS

“It's somewhat of a crazy path that I took to end up at Yale. I didn't know what I was doing when I decided to apply to US colleges; I had never even gone abroad. I spent 19 years in my native Salvador, Brazil–a city, but nothing compared to something like New York. Everything started when one of my friends showed me a video about MIT, and said she couldn't wait to apply. I didn't want to let her down, so we decided to apply together. I Googled MIT and found Yale's website as a related link, and I quickly became very interested in the liberal arts system. I taught myself how to apply–and had to explain to my teachers and counselors in Brazil everything they needed to do as well. In the meantime, I took a transition semester at a medical school in Sao Paulo–the largest city in Latin America. It was my first time ever out of Salvador. I remember walking around with all my “stuff” in this huge city, trying to figure out where I would live and how I would succeed. To this day, I am so much more mature because of that.

Halfway through med school, I got my acceptance letter from Yale. I could not stop screaming and crying of joy. I actually started jumping on my bed, tried to land on my couch, missed the couch, hurt my foot, and could not walk the next day! My initial plan was to go to a party to celebrate my spot at Yale, but I ended up spending the night in the hospital getting my foot fixed, which, in all honesty, was still the best celebration ever.

After going back home and seeing my family before my trip to New Haven, I tried ignoring the fact that I would have to leave them soon. I actually started freaking out about the fact that I had to live in the U.S. dealing with all the typical insecurities every college kid goes through, I took my first international flight, and cried the whole way. It was a new beginning for me, even if my Mom would not stop calling me. Upon my arrival at JFK, I spent my first day in what is now the city of my dreams. I like to share this story to remind myself how tough it was, and how lucky I am to be here.”

- Seon Augusto Ferreira, our #HumansOfOISS for the week. You are simply wonderful!

“Pick One.”

“Though I am of Indian descent, I'm also a 3rd generation Kenyan. I was born in Nairobi, but grew up in Eldoret. I never questioned being both Indian and Kenyan–simultaneously, constantly, and indivisibly–before coming to the US. For people here it is truly shocking; when I tell them I am from Kenya, they usually say something like, “but your parents must have been born in India, right?” For me, it was always natural to be both. It's so hard to explain because I don't know anything that is not both identities at the same time, because I have never had to separate them. I grew up speaking Swahili and Gujarati at the same time. I would be listening to afro beat non-stop, while watching tons of Bollywood movies at home. In the US, as much as I can articulate how merged it is for me, I have more trouble getting people to understand that. There is a much greater need to categorise and deconstruct.

Before I became president of the Yale African Students Association, I was worried about what my skin colour would mean. I didn't know it if would change the dynamics of the organization, or affect how YASA presented itself. To some extent, it's part of the reason I wanted to take on the position in the first place; I want to be able to change the narrative so people like me can feel they have a place in the “African students association”. I have always loved home, and am very defensive of home despite all its flaws. Coming here means I want to help tell our own story, because for the longest time stories have been told about and for us. It is time we do that for ourselves.”

Our wonderful Ruhi Manek opens her heart (and beautiful smile!!) for our second #HumansOfOISS story!