Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Bright Beginning

The day began began bright and early, at seven o'clock Saturday morning. After a quick shower and breakfast a moment of panic ensued when the medical card which Don had requested "vanished." Luckily I was able to find the card (in the place I had unsuccessfully placed it so as not to lose it, my wallet), and dress in some of my  lightest clothes, and still be just on time for my ride. The small amount of nervousness which a had felt for the meeting vanished once I was greeted by the schoolmates I was carpooling with. I used my time in the car to ask all the questions I could think of to one of my fellow carpoolers, Nick (who did the Freedom and Justice Program at Cornell last year).

The Source of my Excitement, Cornell University

My first reaction upon entering the building was surprise at how few people were there. This lasted a brief time until I realized we had arrived thirty minutes early. After exchanging pleasantries with Don and scanning my medical card, I found a good spot and waited as more people trickled in. When the full group had arrived (a little after nine), the tutorial began. Don covered a wide range of topics throughout the tutorial, and set many of my concerns to rest. We discussed blogging, our upcoming events, what we needed for the actual trip, what was expected of us, and much more. This information was enhanced by Don's seemingly endless supply of bizarre, entertaining stories. When the tutorial ended my final thoughts were of how prepared I felt and how surprisingly enjoyable the tutorial was. 

As I realize that in less then two months I will be going to take a class at Cornell University, I cannot help but look back and see how long the process has already been. From the first introductory meeting, to the many essays, to the interview, to the Cornell Cohort Dinner, and finally to this, it has already been months. Months of checking my email once or even twice a day, months of praying that "Evil" Don doe not appear, and months of anticipation. It has been a long and stressful process, but I have no doubt that it is worth it, and I would not miss this opportunity for anything. The Ivy League Connection has given me the biggest opportunity of my life, and I could not be more excited. I eagerly await the next big milestone... the ILC Dinner!

Sneezing, Sweating, and Blogging

Sunny and hot: my kind of weather, except when it's springtime. I woke up bright and early on a beautiful-looking Saturday, not from my annoying alarm clock that plays the same guitar riff over and over again, but from the discomfort of my three sheets that seemed to be too heavy to get out of. Now I'm not going to lie and say I jumped out of bed ready to go to Don's Darned Tutorial, in fact for a few blissful seconds I thought I had the whole day to myself until I saw the writing on my hand: "Passport, ID, Health Card, Flashdrive." Now off to Hercules High we go!

I got to Hercules High and was greeted by a burning sun and hot and suffocating air. Now I would usually appreciate this weather, but hot days during springtime seems to transform my nose into a pollen magnet, making me sneeze uncontrollably. Somehow I got to the tutorial room still intact.

During the tutorial, Don went over the basic of blogging, the "do's and don'ts." Everything from what font the writing should be to how to insert pictures in the blog. After we learned all the technical aspects of blogging, it was time for the hard part: actually writing it. Don told us to write anything we wanted as a practice blog, but I couldn't think of anything (plus the fact that I somehow got distracted by the birds in a nest outside the window). 

Concentrating on Blogging
He then went on talking about taking and editing pictures (even about how to hold a camera!). Now I'm no expert at editing pictures but you would think that a tutorial would help you get better at it, but not in my case. I got more confused with new terms such as "dpi" and with concept concerning resolution and pixels. After rereading the handout Don gave us, I think I am now back to my original point of confusion. 

This tutorial made me even more excited for the trip to Cornell. Many of the alums of the program have told me how tedious and bring blogging can be, but I don't know, it seems pretty fun so far. Only time will tell.  

Cornell University

The First Steps

Hercules Middle High School Campus
Honestly, walking into Room 106 of Hercules High School, I didn't know what to expect. I couldn't say I was nervous, especially after having the comfort of arriving with another member of my Cornell cohort (and being 30 minutes early, might I add).  I could hear the echo of my father’s instructions to keep my passport and computer on my person at all times. I could feel the breeze and hear the blowing of the trees that provided the minimal comfort to endure the unusually hot weather we were experiencing that Saturday morning. 

As the tutorial began, Don introduced himself as we were introduced to each other. We commenced by covering the basics: the importance of checking our e-mails every day, how we shouldn’t take such a marvelous opportunity for granted, and the seriousness of presenting high levels of maturity to be a part of this program.  Hearing all of Don’s stories about the consequences of not following the rules would have been intimidating if it weren’t for his twists of humor he frequently included in these anecdotes.  Luckily, we had "Good Don" speaking to us that day, as opposed to "Evil Don."  We listened to instructions on how to format the blog, the importance of frequently saving your work, and how much Don loves the inclusion of pictures in the blog.  We read examples of good blogs, of bad blogs, and I was surprised to see the familiar face of a former classmate and now graduate of our school in the example of an outstanding reflective blog.  We proceeded by taking our own shot at writing and editing a blog of our own, which turned out to be fun, something different and hands-on, at least, and practiced saving our pictures to MediaFire, an online media storage service. 

Cornell University
After reviewing the essentials of the blog, we learned about the basics of photography, for the blog, and then discussed the “this and thats” of our trip: where to go, what to bring, and what our responsibilities are.  As Don was composing a verbal checklist of what to bring my thoughts always wandered to the dorm rooms and how anxious I am about living on campus and having a roommate! The college dorm room experience, though it seems somewhat daunting, is something nonetheless that I look forward to the most about this journey, along with the opportunity to meet people from all over the world.   

Just like the informational dinner with past Freedom & Justice students, the tutorial made me eager to start my journey. The lesson placed things in perspective and made me realize how quickly time is moving and how soon I will be on a plane destined for Ithaca.  Having the mentorship of Don, past alumni, and the ILC staff as well as the support of my cohort makes me feel confident that I will be prepared when the time comes to begin my trip to the East Coast!