Hefner Awardees Reflect on their Experience of the Hefner Initiative-China and Singapore 2014 program.

August 20, 2014
By Metra Nichols

The Hefner Initiative 2014 program this past July was an extraordinary success with two weeks of cultural experience in Singapore and in Beijing, China. Learning about the many different cultures of Singapore and astonished by the ancient history deeply rooted in Beijing, this year’s program was a great one. The 2014 Hefner Initiative Hefner Awardees from the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics in Oklahoma City and from The Webb Schools in Claremont, California share their experience.

“There was an immediate, fulfilling experience that I felt on this trip. It was both meditative and rich with culture, food, and the people. The societies really opened up my eyes to so many possibilities in the building of relationships with others. I would love to express in the future to others how gratifying it is to embed in a place that was previously foreign to me.”
-Samantha Okere, Hefner Awardee-OSSM

“Traveling to Singapore and China was an amazing cultural experience that has helped shape my view of the world in many ways. Being immersed in the daily lives of people in two countries as different from each other as they are from eachother has had a serious impact on my life. I realized how much more I have to learn about the world. The Hefner Initiative has inspired me to travel the more and made a very positive influence on my life.”
-Katie McDonald, Hefner Awardee-OSSM

“The cultural knowledge I had experienced during my journey was greatly impactful. I appreciated the accomplishments and unique traits of each city and felt I gained valuable insight into the lives of others. More than anything else, I’ll take away that there are ways of life so distinct from my own and learning about them is truly intellectually satisfying. I am so grateful to the Robert and MeiLi Hefner Foundation for affording me the opportunity to discover this about myself.”
-Anthony Palacio, Hefner Awardee-Webb Schools

“What a fascinating experience, and I know I will never forget it. It was an amazing opportunity and changed the way I think about the world especially foreign relations. I learned how important someone’s culture is when trying to understand him or her. I really grew as a human being in that I better understand the importance of culture. I really enjoyed getting to know the host famiies and their ways of life!”
-Maddie Gaumer, Hefner Awardee-Webb Schools

“Singapore is a very pleasant place to explore with all main attractions close together, while Beijing was much more populous and spread out with lots of bicycles and motorbikes. This was an appreciated in-depth look at two of the most important Asian cities in the world. I thank the Robert and MeiLi Hefner Foundation for providing me with this wonderful travel experience.”
-Kurt Bachmann, Physics Teacher and Hefner Awardee-OSSM