Sunday, July 22, 2012


Well, it’s hard to say it, but it is over. Throughout this past week, I knew that I had to write a reflective blog on my experience of this past month but I never really wanted to write it. This is more than a reflective blog; it is symbol. The moment I post this on our blog site, it truly means that our trip has ended: something I never wanted to happen. The time I spent in the East Coast has been extraordinary, but before I further reminisce, let’s start from the beginning. 

My sister, Jennifer, was part of the first Ivy League Connection cohort in which they went to Dartmouth College. After seeing how the ILC impacted her life, I knew I had be part of the ILC. I remember where this journey began. It was before Don even had his informational session at the El Cerrito High Performing Arts Theater. I emailed him asking for more information regarding the application for the ILC. Day after day I would pester him to go into deeper detail about the application process until Don finally told me that I will understand it better once he gives the information session.

There is a famous saying that goes: “third time’s the charm.” This phrase could not have been better suited for my situation. I had received interview opportunities for three different programs: Macroeconomics at Brown, Constitutional Law at Columbia, and Freedom & Justice at Cornell. Since I didn’t find any luck with the first two, Freedom & Justice turned out to be the charmer. Once Alex’s, Eric’s, and my name were called as the ones chosen to attend this program, I knew it was going to be fun.

Once everything was running smoothly, we had a taste of what was to come, literally. Through dinners with Cornell alumni and ILC alumni, I gained a lot of insight of life at Cornell. Such dinners made me ever so excited to leave at that very moment and fly out to Cornell. Furthermore, our fancy dinner at Prospect in San Francisco was just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the restaurants we would eat at in Philadelphia.

Before I knew it, I was standing in front El Cerrito High School freezing along with the others in the Cornell cohort. It was time, we got into our charter bus and headed towards the airport to embark on what was to be a priceless journey. When the airplane took off, it was time to leave all our dependency and comfort of home behind (although our first week of living was far more luxurious than any of us could have imagined). Honestly, I was ecstatic about leaving home and being independent.

At the airport, we drew cards to see who would room with whom in the hotel in Philadelphia. As you may already know from previous blogs, I got Eric Wang from Hercules High. I’m not going to lie, I initially wanted to room with someone from El Cerrito or get the single room (Alex got that one). However, rooming with Eric Wang was the best experience I ever had. Every night, we would stay up late blogging, playing computer games (mainly golf), watching movies, and laughing endlessly during our conversations. We ended up being the best of buddies.

Our first week in Philadelphia was filled with campus visits and fancy dinners. I can’t say I’m not going to miss those dinners, but everything in moderation, I guess. As for the campus visits, we went to University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, and Princeton. Out of all three, UPenn appealed to me the most. From these tours, I realized that I prefer a large campus over a small one. Throughout the first week, we all became close friends and it was sad seeing us go our separate ways once classes started at Cornell.

The experience I had at Cornell is one in which words cannot describe. It is one of those experiences where you have to tell others “you had to be there!” Cornell seemed to have further cast a charm on me. For the first time ever, I enjoyed waking up early in the morning. I enjoyed going to class and listening to an hour and a half lectures. I enjoyed studying. I enjoyed writing my paper. If this is what college is like, then I am extremely sad that I still have one more year to go before that. Of course, Cornell had its flaws, not in a sense that Cornell did anything wrong, but more because of personal taste. I guess this problem comes with every college: the dining hall. The first week, we all thoroughly enjoyed the food there and would go for seconds, even up to fifths. However, towards the end of the program, we could barely eat one plate of food before looking at it with queasy stomachs. Throughout the three weeks at Cornell, never once did I miss home. Cornell became my home.

Over the course of the three weeks, we made some incredible and unforgettable friends. We were heartbroken when our time together ended and we went our separate ways. You see, these aren’t the friends in which you will see next week when you decide to hang out at the mall. Most of these friends we may never see in person for the rest of our lives. Nevertheless, these friends will be the ones we will never forget.

I will truly miss my time at Cornell. Everything from our discussion sessions to our billiards games in Robert Purcell Community Center. Throughout this experience, I have grown as a person, individually and academically. I have become more outspoken and outgoing. More importantly, I have learned proper social protocol from all the dinners with the admission officers of the different colleges. As for the academics, I feel that my writing skills have improved. The most important skill I have acquired over these three weeks at Cornell has to be time management. Never in my life have I managed my time well enough that I don’t feel stressed.

There are many people that I would like to thank for making this opportunity possible for me. Firstly, I would like to thank my family who would pester me endlessly about how I am wasting my time and thereby giving me motivation. To our chaperone, Mr. Chan-Law; your easy-going, yet authoritative, personality made it very easy to connect with you and made the trip very enjoyable. I would like to give my cohort a big thank you. We shared many memorable moments and laughs (especially those times when we would yell profanities when we almost forgot to blog). You all were a huge factor in making this trip from good to extraordinary. Finally, I would like to thank a million times over to everyone affiliated with the ILC, from the alumni to the sponsors. You all have kept the ILC running and reputable. I would like to especially thank Don Gosney, Mr. Charles Ramsey, and Mrs. Madeline Kronenberg who all have been the backbone of the ILC. No matter how many times I say thank you, I can never do it justice. The opportunity the ILC has given me is priceless. As for now, goodbye Cornell, may our paths cross sometime in the future.

It has finally come to an end, but at the same time, this is the beginning. The ILC has opened my eyes to the many possibilities outside of California. As for now, I will be leaving for a service trip to Nicaragua this coming Wednesday. I believe that the ILC has in some way helped me prepare for this trip as well as in my future college career. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I will dearly miss blogging every night in the comfort of my 95 degree dorm room. To keep this going, I will be blogging during my trip in Nicaragua. Should you feel so inclined, you can follow me on my new blog:

Thank you ILC!  

Me and My TA, Gaurav
Me and Professor Kramnick

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