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Making the most of my summer break!

The week I spent at Ashoka was one of the most informative and valuable times of my life. The one-week fully-residential program was intensive and gave me invaluable insight into the workings of a liberal arts college, time management, and self-dependence.

After the orientation, we were divided into Cohorts- groups of 14 with two Cohort Leaders (undergrads at Ashoka), one of which was a Residential Counsellor and the other an Academic counselor.

A day consisted of 3 academic sessions, 1 workshop (organized by undergrads at Ashoka), 1 sporting activity, and ‘Cohort Time’ after lunch and dinner.

The academic sessions were extremely interesting.  Our first class was Physics by Professor Bikram Phookun. The lecture was about how the first black hole was imaged. Prof. Phookun challenged us to think in new ways about space, and I left the hall with a heightened respect for Physics Majors.

Democracy with Professor Pratap Bhanu Mehta was the most interesting Political Science session I’ve ever attended. The hour passed by in what felt like 5 minutes, Prof. Mehta talking about the fundamentals of democracy, the concept of ‘Rule By Lottery’, which was one of the most intriguing concepts I’d ever had to understand. He also challenged us to question the pillars of democracy and see why we accepted it as the best form of Government by default.

History by Professor Rudrangshu Mukherjee was by far my favorite academic session, where he passionately told us about Gandhiji- his book Hind Swaraj, his ideologies, how he influenced our country’s present and made the session interesting by sprinkling trivia throughout the lesson.

Economics with Professor Ananya Sharma was an engaging, challenging, thought-provoking, and extremely interactive lecture, where we participated in online real-time polls to share our opinions and reach conclusions. We saw how religion and a country’s development were connected, and other factors that influence a country’s development.

Academic sessions aside, the workshops were fun and informative. As they were conducted by undergrads, the sessions were cheery and interactive. Out of all of my workshops, the ‘Art of Improvisation’ was the most memorable, with energy-building games, unique ways to get to know each other, and finally a sketch to be made in 25 minutes on a random word.

Cohort time was arguably the most interactive time of day, where thoughts and opinions were shared, debates were sometimes initiated and activities took place.

The post-lunch cohort session was when our Academic Counsellor shared what they had planned, whether it be a debate, or them sharing some kind of paradox that they thought would encourage discussion.

The post-dinner sessions were the ones where we’d goof off, play games like dumb charades and ‘psych’, or paint and eat dinner and other bonding activities.

Overall, it was one of the most enjoyable times of the day. Our cohort leaders were Reuel John and Niharika Yadav – amazing people and even better cohort leaders that really helped and guided us through our week-long journey. I have nothing but praise for them.

The campus and facilities were great. The dorm was perfect, and the sporting facilities were amazing- with 3 basketball courts, a tennis court, a swimming pool, football fields, TT tables, pool tables, squash courts, and many other well-maintained facilities.

The week ended with photographs with the entire batch and our cohort, YSP t-shirts and farewells and so longs.

Overall, this was one of the best experiences of my life, where I formed many new friendships, gained knowledge, insight, experience, and life skills. I definitely think that engaging in such summer school and summer programs will get you a great sense as to the workings of college life and what to expect from college. I’d definitely recommend this program to anyone eligible to apply.

Written By : Laieh Jwella, Grade XI, Sardar Patel Vidyalaya. UC CAAS Student 2019

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