Hana, a 17-year-old from Nevada, is brushing up on her chemistry here at Explo at Yale — a favorite subject of hers — and also a potential future career as a chemical engineer. However, her favorite part about the experience so far has been meeting all the diverse and interesting students Explo brings in from every corner of the world.
Is this your first time at Explo?
Yes it is. My sister’s younger friend actually did it at a different campus, Wellesley I think, and she told us about it so we decided to come.
What are your thoughts on the program so far?
I love meeting people from different countries, which happens a lot here — so that was a new experience for me. And I love coming out here to the beach on this field trip for my Marine Biology workshop.
Could you describe where we are and what we’re doing?
We’re on a beach near campus studying all the different organisms that are native to a beach habitat. We found a lot of regular shells, some crabs — both dead and alive — and also horseshoe crab.
Was the horseshoe crab the really big one we found earlier?
Yeah! it was huge — pretty much the size of my head.
What other courses are you taking?
Mechanical Engineering and Experimental Chemistry. In my engineering class, we get to build things every single day, which is fun. And in chemistry, we’re always doing labs. Lately we’ve been experimenting in our labs with reactions involving alcohol or acetone. We were also taught basic principles like the difference between physical and chemical changes — physical being when you can put things back into their original state and chemical is when you can’t change it back to what it was before the reaction.
What are your favorite subjects in school?
I love math and chemistry — they’re both subjects that I understand well and can excel at in class.
Is that something you’re thinking about pursuing in college?
Yeah — I really want to study chemical engineering, somewhere on the east coast preferably. I’ve looked at Northwestern and Princeton so far, but those are really hard to get into, so who knows.
What hobbies do you do?
I play the cello — so I’m always doing something orchestra related. I’m also on my school’s swim team.
Oh cool! Gina [the instructor] plays the cello as well.
Yeah! She told me earlier. She’s really cool.
You two should jam together. How long have you been playing the cello?
I’ve been playing the cello for seven years now. And for swimming, I just started that freshman year of high school, so only three years. I swim the 200 free and the 100 breast-stroke.
How do the courses here compare to your regular school?
It’s more laid back here — we have a lot less homework. Also the classes are a lot smaller here than back home.
What trips have you gone on?
I went to Lake Compounce and then to see Newsies. Lake Compounce is an amusement park that also has a water park right next to it, so you can move back and forth, which is fun. Newsies was a Broadway show about these guys that went on a strike because they weren’t getting paid enough, and they won in the end.
How’s your living group?
Oh, I love my living group. Everyone is really welcoming and they all listen to you and always want to talk to you. They’re from all over the world — one day during living group time, we just taught each other the different languages we all speak, which was really cool. My roommate is from Russia, there are two girls from France, one’s from Africa, and from all over the States as well.
What’s it like meeting people and making friends at Explo?
I don’t think I’ll ever have another experience like this again — maybe in college — but for now I’ve never met so many people in one day before I came here. It’s a really cool experience. It’s really easy to interact with others because you’re put into a room with people you’ve never met before and they all want to know who you are, where you’re from, all that stuff.
What are the staff like?
They’re really nice. They always want to help you out and they always ask questions about how the program is going so you can always give them honest feedback. All of my teachers are really smart and they know what they’re doing, so you’re always learning new stuff.
If I had never heard about Explo, how would you describe it to me?
I would first say that it’s made up of students from all over the world, and that you can try new things every single day. I think that the ability to try so many new things everyday is the best thing about this program.
What three words would you use to describe Explo.
Exciting. Comforting. Amazing.