Thursday, May 31, 2012

One Step Closer....

I am REALLY excited now that I realize that within a few weeks, I will be off to Philadelphia to tour my first East Coast college, and will be even closer to Cornell. Of course, first I had to complete the orientation tonight.

It ran through much faster than I expected though; when Don e-mailed everyone saying to prepare for up to two and a half hours of information, I was not sure what to expect, except possible boredom. Fortunately, the two hours only seemed like one as Don, Mr. Ramsey, and Ms. Kronenberg quickly and efficiently ran through their part of the agenda. The only things that they lingered on were being on time (I feel a little bad for Molly, who was apparently the last one to arrive; Don spent about ten minutes altogether discussing punctuality because of that) and returning things to Don and the district (also a cumulative ten-minute lecture). Otherwise, the meeting lacked the repetitiveness I anticipated, and we soon split into our respective college groups.

As Mr. Chan-Law passed out our itinerary - which could have been mistaken for a small book - I became a little daunted. Would we really be doing so many events each day? I knew, though, that this program would keep me busy, so I internally sighed and accepted that eight hours of sleep each night may not be possible; but it would definitely be worth it. We discussed in detail our planned excursions to the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University in New York, and Princeton University in New Jersey, with our base in Philadelphia for those first five days before migrating finally to Ithaca. Although we did not say exactly what places we would visit within each respective city, Mr. Chan-Law has already sent out e-mails telling us that we will fit in as much as possible. It seems like twenty-four-hour days won't be enough! Although the cramped schedule seems large and nearly impossible to complete, it's also exciting to think of all the things I will be able to see and do in just one week. Furthermore, Mr. Chan-Law promised that as long as our work load is not too heavy, we will be able to take weekend trips around Ithaca and maybe even outside of the city. I know the course will be rigorous, so this will motivate me to finish most of my homework on Friday instead of procrastinating! After all, this may be the only chance I will get to see all of these places before going off to attend college for an actual degree.

During our group sessions, former participants Terilyn and Yueming gave us advice on what to expect on campus and in Ithaca, and a few tips on what to bring (like flip-flops to wear in the shared showers). Our group ended up being the last group to finish up; we had to be called to attention when Don and Mr. Ramsey were ready to continue their presentation on what to bring, when to arrive at the departure location, etc. I think everyone is excited to go on this new adventure, and as Mr. Ramsey pointed out, "we made it!" I glanced at my fellow cohorts, and I realized that I was excited not only to tour the East Coast, but to share the experience with these fellow adventurers.

Next Stop: Ithaca!

Tonight was the Ivy League Connection orientation.  This is the final step before our departure to Cornell this summer, and we spent the evening reviewing our responsibilities as members of the ILC.  Mr. Ramsey, Ms. Kronenberg, and Don opened with our duties we have as representatives of our district and later introduced all of the chaperones for the different groups.   

For the next part of the program we split up into our travel groups.  It was nice to see them all, especially the Hotel and Management crowd, as this is most likely the last time we will meet as a group before moving off to the East Coast.  We were lucky enough to hear from two former students as well who shared their experiences in the Hotel and Management program at Cornell.  They described the mix of fun and hard work that arrives with this opportunity and were able to share all of their positive experiences while in Ithaca.  Similar to the dinner at Prospect, it was interesting to hear former students’ experience at Cornell, but this time we were told specifically about the Summer College programs.

Next, our chaperone Alfredo reviewed our itinerary while on the East Coast.  Learning about our college visits at UPenn, Columbia, and Princeton and the prestigious dinners with admission officers and alumni that were to follow each day made me extremely excited.  In addition, we will have time to explore the city of Philadelphia with our cohort, a pleasant break before our studies. 

This event was the final stepping-stone before our departure.  Now the training wheels are off.  The next time I will be seeing Don, Alfredo, and the Hercules group will be at 3:30 in the morning the day of our flight.  The trip will soon be in motion, and I am very grateful and excited to be presented with such an amazing opportunity.  

The End of the Beginning

That was it, our last step before meeting at ECHS (at 3:30AM for the Cornell Cohort) to depart for the East Coast. The ILC Orientation was probably the most useful and meaningful meeting to me so far within the ILC. I truly feel like all my questions have been answered and my needs have been met.

Packets, Notes, and Documents
The meeting began with comments from Mr. Ramsey, Don, and Mrs. Kronenburg regarding the importance of being on time, and how tardiness was being considered for the 8th deadly sin within the ILC. After the meeting truly began, the three leaders each gave speeches on various elements of the ILC, from Loaner Items to Admission Officers Meetings. Mrs. Kronenburg's speech addressing how the program was not a scholarship, but more of a job really got to me. Thinking of everything I do as earning my scholarship really adds meaning for me, and makes me appreciate the program more. After these speeches and being reintroduced to our chaperons, we split into our cohorts and met separately. We discussed our travel specifics and were able to talk with previous ILC Cornellians about the campus and trip in general. Our chaperon Alfredo seems really enthusiastic and fun, and I look forward to travelling with him. The meeting ended on a good note from Mr. Ramsey congratulating all of us on making it to the final step of the ILC introductory process.

Now here we are, 18 days until we leave, just under 3 weeks. I am ready. I am prepared. Most of all, I am excited. Thank you to the Ivy League Connection for this amazing opportunity!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Third Milestone Event In As Many Days

Today all the ILCers from all seven high schools in our district assembled at LoVonya DeJean Middle School for the May School Board Meeting. Ever since this year's ILC experience has begun it has been said time and time again that this year the ILC is sending 42 students, the most ever, to prestigious institutions like Cornell. While I understood that sending 42 students was a new high, it didn't really set in until I got to see all 42 ILCers in one venue, at the same time. I was amazed by how much the ILC has grown since its founding.

The night began with several adults who were concerned about the funding for adult education. They were relieved that the School Board decided to continue to fund adult education for 2012-2013. Several adults signed up to speak and after 50 minutes of thank yous and urges to keep funding adult education, the night progressed and soon each cohort was introduced and I got to start putting names to faces. It was wonderful to see that all seven of the high school in our district was represented.

Following the introductions Austin Long, a rising sophomore at Yale, delievered a very eloquent and motivational speech about the ILC and the type of people that come out of the ILC. Then Terilyn Chen stepped up and used anecdotes to demonstrate how the ILC has allowed her to be more comfortable in situations when she has to react to unexpected events such as talking about the Spongebob theme song in here Harvard interview. Who knew, Spongebob could be a topic at these interviews.

As we waited for the group photograph, it was neat that the beneficiaries got recognized for providing the funds that allowed the Ivy League to Connection to prosper and flourish.

We ended the night with several blinding flashes and attempts to smile and not blink. The group photograph is taken and now I can look forward to the orientations and June 19th - the day we depart for Philadelphia!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

School Board, check. Giant picture, check. Sleep...not quite.

The School Board meeting has marked another milestone, and has me taught another lesson about ILC - it is exhausting. The meeting tonight went well; everyone went up with their respective schools when called, while their chaperones gave a short speech about what we would be doing while visiting the East Coast. I heard many of the statistics from the website repeated, but was still awed by the fame of this program, and more amazed that I was part of it. As I stood up there, though, listening to everyone speak, I also felt the weight of three events and long nights of homework weighing down on my eyelids. I am not used to doing so many special events in a row, so this is one more new experience I can add to my list of "Things I Have Accomplished" (sub-category, "Really Tiring Things I Have Accomplished").

Yet I still have no complaints. I know that there will be many long nights while I am at Cornell, in addition to adjusting my internal clock to a three-hour difference. To me, this is just a practice run; since I am still alive, and not behind on my blogs yet, I think I will survive after all.

I am worried about my eyesight, though. Don took about twenty consecutive pictures tonight of the entire ILC cohort, including all of the parents and chaperones, on top of the pictures he took while we were presenting ourselves to the School Board. I hope I did not blink for all of them. I swear it took two more minutes than last night to shake off the bright lights that were appearing over anything I tried to look at....

Day 3 of a Busy Week

To some, this would be the second (or even first) event of the week, but to the Hercules Cornell group, this would be the third. Following the dinner and a council meeting, the board meeting would be the final event until next week. It was the first event that I arrived a little late in, but I quickly found a seat. With the room nearly packed, the School board meeting started.

After about half an hour of discussions on the budget cuts toward adult education, it was finally our turn to talk. If my memory serves me correctly, my group was the fourth program to go up to the podium. I walked with Helen Naizghi and together, held the Cornell banner with pride. Sadly Alex Wing couldn't come due to a fever, but our chaperon, Mr. Chan-Law introduced the rest of us, and we moved aside to let the other programs introduce themselves.

Lastly came the guest speakers (Austin Long and Terilyn Chen), who both spoke about how great of a program the Ivy League Connection is, which I totally agree on, and how it prepared them for college. One thing that stuck to my head was the word "magical" Terilyn Chen used to describe her experience at Cornell, which I want to see even more now.

Now came the hard part. The introductions and speeches were over, but arguably the most challenging part of this entire meeting was the group picture at the end. I was thinking, "how on earth were they going to be able to fit all of us and the parents on the stands?!" Luckily, there was photographer Don to the rescue. He was able to position everyone to fit in the picture. 20 flashes later, we were finally done. One thing that I wish for though, is to have no one blink during the pictures so there won't be any excess shots taken to save my eyes the ordeal of an extra blinding flash or two.

Exiting the Board meeting, we were all finally one step closer to our summer in the East coast. School's almost out and Cornell is less than a month away. Time flies by fast!

The Second Step

This evening, my mother and I arrived at LaVonya DeJean Middle School for the School Board Meeting right on time at 6:15 PM, but I guess Don wasn't kidding when he said that "on time" didn't really mean "on time" but rather 15 minutes earlier since I missed the whole briefing session of when the ILCers were going to be announced.

I had never been to a school board meeting before and was surprised to find out that it was basically a publicized conference. The first part of the meeting was on the issue of funding on adult education. I thought it was neat how the public could just sign up to speak to the School Board to express their views, opinions, and suggestions without any prerequisites.

After that, it was our turn to be introduced to the audience. One by one, every cohort went up and the chaperon gave a brief speech. We also heard amazing speeches given by former ILCers that inspired us and taught us about the wonderful things to look forward to this summer. The speeches were phenomenal and really turned my level of excitement up a notch.

Once the speeches were over, it was time for the huge group picture. The whole process took about 15 minutes, and since I'm not that flexible, sitting on the floor cross-legged was excruciatingly painful. Added onto that was about 20 bright flashes from the camera that made me wonder if I had blinked in every shot or the flash just blinded me for a split second.

Overall, the School Board Meeting was a great experience and has cemented the fact that I am truly a part of the ILC.     

Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept...

After a minor mishap involving confusion between the location of this and the ILC Orientation next week, my mother and I arrived at Lavonya Dejean Middle School. I rushed in, and after exchanging pleasantries with everyone I recognized, I went to sit with my cohort.
The meeting began with a discussion over the district's support of adult education. It was interesting to get the chance to see how the school board operates. After the school board decided to continue supporting adult education and the issue was resolved, the meeting moved on to recognizing the Ivy League Connection members. One by one the cohorts from various school were called up, and the chaperons made a short speech describing our programs and the schools we will be visiting, then introduced the students. After the speech we received a certificate of recognition and went to stand to the side. After the students and chaperons, the contributors were given certificates. Then two former ILCers made passionate speeches encouraging the continuation of the ILC. Finally we gathered for a group photo, and after many, seemingly insignificant adustments from Don, and blinding photo after blinding photo, I am sure that we got the perfect picture to showcase the ILC of 2012.
Seeing the level of dedication and support which the community has for the IlC program makes me extremely proud to be a part of it. Its an honor to be an ambassador to the West Contra Costa Unified School District. A program like this gives opportunities to the higher achieving students in our district for which we are all (I speak for everybody) extremely grateful. This meeting showed me how important and rare a porgram like the ILC is, and made me appreciate it all the more. My motivation to excel during my time on the East Coast has increased, since now I know that how I do reflects not only on my image, but on the image of the district as a whole. I am determined to represent the WCCUSD as best as I can, and I look forward to the chance to show all that we truly have to offer. I readily accept the mission to be the best ambassador for our district that I can.
Alexander Wing was unable to make the meeting due to illness, and I wish him the best and a fast recovery. Get well soon Alex!
Only the orientation left, then its off to Ithaca!

Live from the Hercules City Council

On Tuesday, May 22, there was a recommended appearance for all the ILCers of Hercules to attend the Hercules Council meeting. In total, there were about nine students which included: four from the Cornell program, two from the Yale program, and one from the Brown Program. Joining us were the chaperones, Dr. Zak, as well as Beilul Naizghi and Terrylin Chen, who are both former ILCers that are heading off to college. We all arrived by 6:30 PM, waiting for the meeting to begin, so we could say our speeches and take a group picture. It seemed that I was the only one that was extremely anxious about talking in front of the council members because everyone else seemed relaxed.

We sat down for a while, and after the pledge of allegiance, Don headed up to speak. I remember asking Eric and Rachel about what the general topics that I should mention when I was up there were. I felt a little bit of a relief once they gave me a brief picture of what to do. It felt that Don was talking for a very long time, but it was probably due to my nervousness because he only stood up there for a few minutes. Then, as he finished, we all slowly walked up forming a line next to the podium, awaiting to speak.

When I got up, I everything that was going on in my head went blank. I forgot what to say as I looked on to the crowd that was watching me. I had to pause for a while to just remember what I wanted to say. Though I didn't do so well on my speech, I was happy to be able to practice talking in front of an important crowd. Also, I have learned from my mistake. From now on, I will practice a little before going up for a speech, because I would be able to sound more like a professional instead of saying "ummm" in every other sentence.

After the ILCers finished, the seniors of Hercules High spoke, which they did excellently. Beilul and Terilyn both talked about what it was like in the Ivy League Connection. They described how the ILC helped them with their college applications and the experience they received from this program. This helped me get a better understanding of what it was like to be in this summer program and how it will effect me later on in life.

There was one more speech following the former ILCers', which was Mr. Litvin. It wasn't mandatory for a chaperone to speak, but he did so anyways. I always knew that English teachers were good talkers, but I didn't realize how good until he went up and expressed his opinions. I loved how he was able to grab the attention of the audience and added side jokes to his speech. He didn't read off of a piece of paper, and his genuine voice made the words so much better.

I learned a lot from this event. This council meeting helped me realize how intimidating it could be talking to important adults. I hope that there will be more opportunities to talk to these people because it would help me improve my public talking.

Public Speaking

Earlier tonight, all the Hercules ILCers ( Frank He, Helen Naizghi, Rachael Redlo, Jobel Vecino, Tanya Krishnakumar, Kelly Xi, and myself) met former ILCers Beilul Naizghi and Terilyn Chen as well as Mr. Chan-law, Mr. Litvin, Mr. Crosby, Mrs. Ishmael, Principal Zak, and Don at the Hercules City Hall for the May City Council meeting.

Each of us were expected to make a speech, and to be perfectly honest, I didn't write one out. Instead, I made a general outline of the topic I wanted to hit during my speech. I did my best to remain calm and relax because I knew that if I didn't allow my nerves to get the best of me, I would be fine when I had to step up to the podium.

Like my fellow ILCers, I thanked the City Council members for their support of Hercules education and expressed how honored I felt to serve as an ambassador of not only my school and school district, but of this "quintessential American town" as Mr. Litvin calls it. The one point I really wanted to emphasize in my speech was that schools of the caliber of Cornell, Columbia, and UPENN, aren't out of reach. I learned first hand at Columbia last year that my peers from Hercules High School are just as capable and just as smart, if not smarter, than some people who might be from a more affluent background. The ILC has opened my mind to options besides the UC and CSU systems and allowed me to aim high.

Following all of the current ILCers speeches, Terilyn and Beilul spoke about how the ILC affected their college applications. Finally, Mr. Litvin delivered a very eloquent speech and made the student who he had seem as if we're a lot better than him when in reality, we all look up to him.
The second milestone event is now over and it is time for the third of four milestone events - the school board meeting.

Less is More

Tonight was the second milestone event for the Hotel Management students - the Hercules City Council meeting. Unfortunately, all that self-confidence I bragged about in my last blog seemed to have left me as my nerves returned during the Pledge of Allegiance. My only consolation was that Frank He seemed to be even more nervous than I was (but he did great while speaking!).

After the formalities were over, Don Gosney went up to the podium to give his speech about what the Ivy League Connection is about, and why it is important for the City of Hercules specifically and for the district in general. As he spoke, I tried to decide what to say for my turn at the podium. How could I show my gratitude for the program and for the city's support without rambling about my entire Herculean life?

As Mrs. Ishmael called us up to speak, I made a final decision to keep my speech concise and contained. I knew everyone would be saying very similar things, and with seven of us, I figured I would not need to reiterate what was common knowledge - that I was a Hercules student and resident through and through, and was incredibly excited to represent that at Cornell. Sure enough, Kelly Xi, who went before me, took the words right out of my mouth (although more eloquently than I probably could have managed). When it was my turn, I stuck with my plan of short and sweet (which is what I am best at), and it seemed to work. My words of gratitude flowed effortlessly, without me having to think about exactly what I wanted to convey. I may not have shared that I have lived in Hercules for all of my life, or that this city has provided me with many opportunities, including a trip to Japan and the opportunity to go to an Ivy League school this summer, but I did not feel that my speech was lacking. I spoke from the heart, and said exactly what I wanted the Council and the audience to know, with no extra flourishes. It probably was not as impressive as Jobel's words representing all of us and the Ivy Leage Connection, or Mr. Litvin's praises of our Hercules "quintessential American dream." But I did give my own personal flair for what ILC should help me do - get things done accurately and consistently.

A Glimpse into the Prospects of Cornell

Nerve-racking. Fun. Tasty. Tiring.

These are all the words that describe my first Ivy League Connection dinner.

I did not really know what to expect when I got to the BART station exactly at the meeting time; but everything seemed to proceed smoothly as Mr. Ramsey and Don herded us all onto the trains, our suits and dresses appropriately branding us as the ILC Cattle. I sat next to Eric Wang on the way there, and we chatted about our final days of school while I thought about what I would say at the dinner tonight (as a high school student, it is tradition to not prepare too far in advance). We walked from the San Francisco station to the restaurant ("Prospect"), talking to each other and trying not to get lost. The closer we got, the more my stomach fluttered.

Several Cornell alumni were in our reserved room already by the time we arrived. We all shook hands, and at first the ILC group stuck together, not quite sure what to do. Don eventually came over and reminded us to socialize; so I began talking with Catrina Cartagena about her experiences with the Cornell law school as everyone grazed (I still felt somewhat herded) through small appetizers. Catrina told me a little bit about what she did before Cornell, and what to expect in Ithaca while we waited for Mr. Ramsey to finish our seating arrangements. I also enjoyed talking with her about my experiences with the mock trial competition before taking our seats. Now, sitting between Eric Wang and alumnus Maxime Domain (Max for short), my nerves truly started to kick in because I realized I would soon have to speak in front of everyone immediately after Ms. Kronenberg introduced the guests.

Yet everything seemed to work out fine. I didn't stutter out my words, trip over my own feet, forget what I wanted to say, or do any other mistake that I fretted over in the minutes before I went up. The evening progressed smoothly afterwards, as I enjoyed the excellent (and gluten-free!) food provided and was thoroughly entertained  by the conversations with Max - a computer science major who lived in France before coming to the United States to study at Cornell - and Tony Bandanza (the alumnus sitting next to Eric). I got my greatest impression of Cornell, though, as I listened to Max and Tony speak to each other. They graduated in different years, and with different majors,  but there was still that shared connection between them. They were part of the Cornell family - they had walked the same streets of Ithaca, met some of the same professors, experienced some of the best dining hall food, and left with the same tools for success. The same tools that I hope to at least partially obtain during my three weeks at Cornell this summer.

I realize now that we do not have to be herded cattle, being prodded and guided toward success; with the self-confidence I gained through that relaxing, family-like environment, I feel ready to take on Cornell like the wild bull I know I can be - strong, independent, and branded  only by the mark of future success (a true representation of what an ILCer should be).

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Scallops, Speeches and Great Alums

It was just after 6:20 when my father and I, dressed in our finest formal wear, arrived at the El Cerrito BART station. After the group assembled and boarded the train, I could not get my mind off the speech I knew I would be making. When we arrived in San Francisco, my mind finally cleared and I prepared for what I knew would be a fun and educational night.

My Scallop Appetizer
The restaurant, Prospect, is probably the fanciest restaurants I have ever eaten at. The food and service was excellent. I had scallops for my starter, followed by a chicken dish, with a slice of chocolate cake for desert. I began the event very timid, and it was not until Don urged us students to reach out that I truly began socializing. The opportunity to meet and interact with so many Cornell alums, School Board members, and supporters of the Ivy League Connection was a wonderful experience. I really appreciated the chance to interact with adults as peers, and participate in mature, intelligent discussions.

In retrospect, being asked to make a speech in front of a room full of adults was more of an honor than a burden. Although I was quite intimidated, I think I managed to make my point and deliver a good speech. I talked about why I chose Cornell, why I chose the Freedom and Justice Program, and thanked all involved for giving me this chance. After my speech I was able to relax much more, and enjoy the dinner stress free.

All that remains before leaving for the East Coast is the School Board meeting tomorrow, and the ILC Orientation on the 31st. Only two more milestones until the departure date and I could not be more excited.

"Prospect"ive Cornellians

Today, May 21, we are one step closer to being true Cornellians.

After school, I rushed back home to get ready for the Cornell Dinner at Prospect in San Francisco with my mom. I arrived at the El Cerrito Plaza Bart Station, and to my surprise given that my track record for tardiness is substantially high, I was the first of the ILCers to get there. I was quickly greeted by the always lovely Don Gosney and Mrs. Kronenberg who were both posted by the entryway like guards of the Buckingham Palace. When the rest of the group was all accounted for, we took the BART to Embarcadero Station and walked to the restaurant.

Prospect was a hidden gem tucked in the outskirts of the Business District of San Francisco. We got a private room in the back of the restaurant and we started to mingle with some of the alums from Cornell. There was such a great variety of people from all over the US who have attended Cornell and were eager to share their experiences. Before dinner was served, we heard wonderful speeches from two of our cohorts: Rachael from Hercules and Eric from El Cerrito. To kick it up a notch, Mr. Ramsey gave this mind-blowing speech worthy of an Oscar Nomination.

At our dinner tables, I was sitting with alums Doug and Rachel, along with our Cornell chaperone Alfredo and three other members of the school district. I spent most of the time talking with Doug and absorbing the information he had about Cornell. It seemed that with each sentence he spoke, Cornell seemed to get progressively prettier and prettier. I was literally put into a virtual reality of Cornell by the descriptions given by Doug. One of the aspects that stuck out the most to me was when Doug told me that Cornell is a school that is big enough for a wide range of diversity, yet small enough that you will frequently bump into friends.

Now let's talk about the food! It was amazing! Everything, from the appetizer to the dessert, would've put Gordon Ramsey's cooking to shame. The service was excellent; they seemed to know exactly when we were running out of alcohol (or water in my case). The atmosphere of the restaurant combined with the conversations with my table-mates made it an unforgettable night.

Thank you Mr. Don Gosney, Mr. Charles Ramsey, Mrs. Madeline Kronenberg, and all the people affiliated with the ILC for giving me this amazing opportunity. I would also like to give a huge thanks to Doug and Rachel for sharing their experiences with us. I am looking forward to attend Cornell this summer more than ever.  

Step One of ILC Complete

The first major event of the Ivy League Connection has finally come on a breezy afternoon. Mostly everyone arrived by 6:30 PM at El Cerrito Plaza, getting ready for the big dinner at the restaurant Prospect. I stood in front of the BART entrance, converged with all the Cornell cohorts and chaperones, for the first time ever. We all exchanged greetings and set forth to the BART to San Francisco, where our destination awaited us.

Once we got off the 20 minute ride, we were one step closer to our dinner. Personally, I was quite nervous because I didn't know how the Cornell alumni who were waiting for us were going to be like. For some reason, I thought they would be somewhat old, with a stern face. Don't ask me why, but that's what I imagined in my head as we walked. When we arrived at the fancy Prospect, we were led up to a raised, secluded room, where we finally saw the alumni. They were different from what I thought they would look like, with all of them having smiles on their faces. There were some older graduates, as well as some that have graduated just a few years ago. After conversing for a while, we sat in our assigned seats.

When everyone was seated, Mrs. Kronenberg started the dinner with her speech. She encouraged everyone to stand up and introduce themselves one at a time. As the introductions passed, Rachael Redlo, from Hercules High, and Eric Wilson, from El Cerrito High, rose and gave superb speeches about what the program meant to them. Good thing it was they that got chosen to speak, because if it were me, I would be stuttering the whole time.

Afterwords, I got to talk to the alumni and eat. I sat next to two very nice people named Catrina and Samantha. They were both from the East and it was very fun talking about what it was like there. Everything they said about Cornell, like the Dairy Bar and the fun times they had, made me want to go even more now. It was very hard to talk to the others around me though, since the people around Mr. Ramsey were interested in mostly politics, which I found, of course, interesting, but also difficult to follow. The food we ate was great too. The dessert was probably my favorite, since I love to eat anything that tastes like strawberries.

What a great day it has been! It took a long time, but I'm not complaining. The service was excellent and the servers were very kind to us. The food was fantastic, and the people there were even better. Everyone was so welcoming to us students that it was like we were friends before this meeting. This was a great way to start out the Ivy League Connection, and I can't wait for summer to start!

Freedom and Justice, and Food!

The day kicked off as usual, going to school and then to baseball practice, but the whole time I was thinking about the dinner at Prospect.  After arriving in San Francisco where the cold and the wind accelerated my longing to finally be on the East Coast in the summertime, we were greeted by the warm and welcoming private backroom at Prospect.  The evening commenced with mingling amongst the ILCers as well as the alumni and sponsors, who were all so generous to spend their time with us that evening.  There I met my chaperone for the trip, Alfredo, as well as many former students of the school as waiters came around offering fancy finger foods and beverages, the crab and cheese mini-sandwiches being my favorite.  Hearing about opportunities available at Cornell through these graduates really opened my eyes to what lies in store for my trip this summer.

The evening progressed as we sat down and listened to the presentations by Mrs. Kronenberg, Mr. Ramsey, and two ILC students.  It allowed me to understand what a unique and extraordinary opportunity we have been given to study at an Ivy League college.  I was encouraged by Peter and Alex’s emphasis on the strong unity the Cornell alumni possess, as well as Catherine’s insights into her engineering courses as well as her sharing her knowledge on the extra-curricular and off-campus life in Cornell (did I mention she was on the Varsity Diving Team!?). 

Then the food began to arrive.  I started with a delicious Greek salad (which unfortunately was demolished before a thought crossed my mind to take a picture of it), followed by a Petaluma chicken breast with smoked king trumpet mushrooms and an English pea puree, and strawberry sorbet for dessert.  Unfortunately my allergy to eggs limited my dining experience especially in the dessert portion as I enviously watched my colleagues and tablemates enjoy chocolate stout cakes and house-made strawberry cream biscuits - two baked goods, my weakness…..

The night was surely one to remember.  The first-hand experiences at Cornell that the alumni were able to share with me allowed me to simulate my own time there.  I additionally felt completed by becoming introduced to my entire Cornell cohort.  I am truly grateful to have this opportunity to visit the East Coast this summer!

A Night to Remember

On a cool Monday night, the Cornell cohort embarked on our first milestone even with the ILC, the dinner. We gathered at the El Cerrito Plaza BART station. I thought it was neat because this was the first time that our whole cohort was together. It was nice to see everyone and I enjoyed talking to my fellow Cornelies as we rode the BART and walked to the restaurant Prospect.

Upon arriving at the restaurant, we were greeted by some Cornell alumni and soon after we arrived, more and more alumni began to file into the restaurant. It was really awesome to get to meet and talk to these alumni about their experiences at Cornell and how what they studied at Cornell affected what they have done or are doing since graduating.

After everyone mingled for awhile, Mrs. Kronenberg allowed everyone to introduce themselves and spoke a little about the ILC. She was then followed by Rachael and Eric who eloquently spoke about why they wanted to join the ILC and what they're looking forward to. Both Rachael and Eric managed to infuse humor with their speeches and it seemed like both are comfortable with public speaking. Finally, Mr. Ramsey made closing remarks about how the ILC has made prestigious institutions such as Cornell household names and that the change that the ILC has made can be seen throughout our community.

 Following the speeches, I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation with the alumni at my table (Tony Bandanza and Maxime Domain known as Max), as well as the succulent food and great service. It was amazing to hear about what Tony and Max's experiences were like at Cornell and it was especially interesting because Tony did his undergraduate at Cornell while Max was fresh from France when he came to do get his graduate degree in computer science at Cornell. Based on the stories that I heard, I'm looking forward to going to Ithaca, New York more that I ever before!

I can't wait to make the walk from the dorms to my class, learn with students from around the world, explore Collegetown, and walk around the lake and cross over the gorges! Last night was truly a night to remember!