SIG Experience @ University of Chicago
Y1C Luna, Zeyi CEN 岑泽贻
This summer, I participated in SIG Summer Program at the University of Chicago. The program length was just three weeks but I did receive a lot of benefits such as enjoying selected courses, broadening my horizons, meeting some new friends and establishing international friendship networks. Since I was the only one who chose this campus from my high school, I was felt kind of nervous before meeting everyone at Pudong International Airport and travelling with a group of student who does not familiar with each other much. After the long 13 hours flight, we finally reached O’Hare Airport. While taking the coach to the campus, I felt strong business atmosphere by seeing those different shapes of skyscraper in the downtown area. The weather here was a bit different from Wuxi, it could change constantly between rainy and sunny several times a day, I cannot wait to meet staff, students from all over the world, and especially my dorm mates in the camp.
One Dormitory, Four students! Inside the dorm, we shared common spaces but lived in two separated bedrooms. Jaqueline and Daria stayed in one, Bonnie and I was in the other one Jaqueline was an enthusiastic native girl and Daria came from Russia. Bonnie and her family moved to Canada since she was Grade 6, but every summer they travel back to China to visit relatives and friends. Bonnie and I quickly became close friends on the first night we met, we discussed our high schools, classes, friends, extra-curricular experiences till late night. During the daytime, we always stayed together while having lectures, enjoying breaks and doing courseworks, everything you can imagined.
SIG Camp was kind of a whole new world to me. Everything here is new, new environment, new circumstance, new teachers, new classmates and new counselors. After the first couple of days, I completely threw away all my worries, we went well with each other, much better and easier than I imagined before. The classes I chose were great, especially the fourth one, Ethical Decision. That was the most amazing one among my four choices, we had the coolest teacher - Ms.Elisha Adelman, and the most responsible TA. Ms.Adelman teaches Philosophy in her school and our TA would soon be a formal faculty member in this upcoming academic year. The most important thing is we had a relaxed ambiance in class. It was really fun to discuss classic ethical examples, such as the famous train question, to kill five or to kill one. We had trained to think problems from different perspectives and our goal was not to persuade others that only a certain answer was correct, actually ethics taught us to think what is correct and what is wrong, there's no standard answer. By taking this class, I had digged out my great interest in ethics and philosophy, which I didn't pay much attention to and just thought they were too complicated to understand.
We had different sorts of activities after class every day, like sing-off, decorate T-shirts and fashion show.The fashion show was a special one, our counselors provided us with different key words as themes like “winter” or “recycling”, every group should choose four models and try their best to dress them up by following the theme protocol. All of our group members agreed to take out some clothes or ornaments to put on to our models.We wrote down our ideas and drew conceptual sketches to test our combo. At the end, our efforts were rewarded by winning the top prize. We even took part in dance on the penultimate night, although majority of Chinese students had never tried to performance a dance in front of everyone before. On that night, everyone dressed so well and we had a memorable night. To be honest, I didn’t know much about dancing and all I’ve done is preparing to be embarrassed in front of everybody. However, the situation did not go as plan. Nobody laughed me at all. This unique experience made me realized that enjoyment is far more important than excellent in certain circumstances.
I appreciated that I met so many students with great talents in this camp. We were divided into groups according to our age, which means students of the same age would usually have classes and do activities together. We worked on our final group projects, my partners and I prepared stuff,went over it again and again,at the last day presented to the class.We also went to Starbucks and bookstore to enjoy our afternoon, hanged out together during weekends. We enjoyed every moment in the camp. We all came from different countries and shared different backgrounds, but these three weeks, it seemed that we have known each other for a long time, I'm sure I'll meet those friends again. This friendship network will be the great asset in my life.
At the end, I think that SIG taught me something more than Academic Knowledge and English Skills. Instead, that's something inside my mind, something like how to become an independent individual, or how to think and act critically, or how to treat people without bias or how to respect and communicate with people sharing different cultures, I'm so lucky that I chose to participate this program.