Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Chicken Finger Fridays and Cajun Pasta Worth Fighting For

During the ILC dinner, I had the privilege to sit with three amazing women. Madeline Kronenberg, Elizabeth Gonzales, and Alice Piñeiro made a night I thought would be extremely awkward into an amazing informative night with a conversation that seemed to flow effortlessly.

The night started off with us meeting at BART to go to San Francisco, once everyone arrived we began our journey to the Town Hall Restaurant. While we walked I realized that I had overestimated my ability to stand for extended periods of time in heels. Pushing through I manage to make it to the restaurant to realize we had more standing time, my feet were not pleased, to say the least. Yet though it all the time waiting was spent talking to many alumni that I would not have had the chance to speak with considering the table arrangements.

Once the dinner started we received a welcome and introduced ourselves which was led by Madeline Kronenberg. As we ate our salads we heard from a few more people. Between the end of the speeches and the dinner arriving was when the conversation about Brown and college in general began. I found that the table Don had me seated at fit my personality perfectly.

During our time, we spoke of many subjects such as the history of Brown, the climate, the programs, and much to my pleasure the food. As they told the stories of their experience I found myself in awe, I thought to myself wow this is really happening. I learned that a fan is an absolute must that it will be my lifeline. As well as the food, which I was told was fantastic. According to Ms. Gonzales, the chicken finger Fridays are a must as well as the Cajun pasta that is known to cause fights.

Overall the night was amazing and I learned so much information that was nice to hear from those who have gone through college and are such inspirations. I found what I believed my excitement limit had hit its max but to my surprise speaking with these wonderful women, my excitement has been tripled. 

The Brown Cohort's Potato Passion

The Brown rookies and our beautiful potato mascot, Billy.
As a student who's always busy and usually missing lunch at school, I was looking forward to the ILC dinner filling my stomach up. When we arrived at the meet up spot, Don talked to us about the procedures he wanted us to follow, though it was a little difficult to hear due to the loud trains and yelling from outsiders. The BART ride was a harsh on an empty stomach, but I was eager to spend time and eat dinner with my cohort. I also had an enjoyable time meeting the ILC alumni, especially the ones who have graduated Brown University. All five of us had questions for the alumni, and even after we reached our destination, we were still asking them questions incessantly. When we arrived in San Fransisco, I found myself struggling to walk around due to the heels I wore. Many of us wore heels, which led to several of us suffering from sore and sprained ankles.

The dinner was in a private area above a restaurant, and despite the small space Don somehow managed to fit all of us in it. The event started off with an introduction to the alumni, panelists, and parents in the room. Then, it was my turn to speak on behalf of the Brown cohort. Even though I prepared a speech, I ended up speaking my heart out about the experience and gratitude I had for everyone (especially Don). 
Kendra's hidden talent as a photographer has been revealed!
The food served to us was a unique experience. I didn't know what to expect as food during a formal dinner, so when I read the menu, I was completely confused. The names of the food were completely out of my mental dictionary, which made it impossible to visualize the food! Eventually, Guadalupe helped me by describing the dishes to me and made it a lot easier to decide which dishes to order. 

The next several hours were time spent with Kelsey, our parents, Kendra, and the alumni in our group. Guadalupe Morales and Charles Ramsey gave us a huge amount of information, in the span of those three hours. I asked Guadalupe several questions regarding the campus life and experiences she's had at Brown, which made me more excited for the trip this summer. Charles talked about the history and success Ivy League has had over the year. I was amazed by the amount of successful ILCers there were and they immediately became my new role models.  

By the time it was 9 PM, we all started to file out and take photos outside. I was thankful I had a warm vest on, because it was windy and felt incredibly chilly. While the Cornell cohort took pictures, the Brown cohort huddled together for body warmth. When it was finally our turn, Don told me to take off my vest, which left me shivering when the pictures were taken. During our little photoshoot, our team stumbled upon a potato on the ground. We asked Don if we could take a photo together with the it, and surprisingly accepted. I believe the five of us posing around the potato is the best cohort bonding picture we've taken so far!
The Brown family all together!

Kendra is a Very Good Photographer

The evening started with a near death experience. You see, my sister was the one to drive my father and I to BART and she is definitely one of the worst drivers I have ever been in a car with. Luckily, the ride was short, and I survived. I arrived at the BART station at 5:00 (15 minutes early) and was quickly engulfed in conversation with the various people there.

I began by talking with Hummd about her experience at Cornell. This was an easy starting point as Hummd and my sister are friends and so the conversation was easy to keep going. However, even that died down eventually, so I conversed with my cohort until a few more people arrived. Once enough people arrived, Don gave us directions on what was to happen that evening, handed out Clipper Cards, and told us to head up the escalator to the platform.
Waiting to get on the BART train.
Once on the platform, and later on the train, I had the privilege of talking to Adrienne Ramsey. (Mr. Ramsey’s daughter) She enlightened me not only about her experience at the Women and Leadership program, but also about her life after the program and through college. Through this discussion, I learned quite about her reasoning for transferring from Sarah Lawrence College after two years to go to USC. She advised me to go into college undecided, as college classes can be very different from high school and I might find a topic that I am very passionate about in college, that I didn’t even know existed in high school. She also talked about the value of internships, what her career goal was for the future, and how it was important to take a break.

This discussion continued once we left the noisy BART train and started the walk toward the restaurant we were going to, "Townhall Restaurant." However, I didn’t just talk to Adrienne during this walk, I also talked to Ms. Kronenburg with another ILCer about the weather that would await us at Brown and Cornell. I have to say, after discussing this with her, I was a little less enthused to be going to Brown. (It is supposed to be hot and humid) This however, diminished as soon as we got to the restaurant.

Once in the upstairs venture at the restaurant, my cohort and I decided to take a pit stop to the bathroom as we felt like we needed to wash our hands after the BART ride. After a little pep talk with each other about how to be profession and adult mannered, we made our way out back into the venue. We were met with Kendra (our chaperone) in the hallway who requested to take our picture. We happily obliged and after a couple quick photos, we made our way into the area near the bar.

In this time before dinner was served I talked with several of the ILCers who I did not know very well, as well as one of the Women and Leadership interviewers (Alice Pineiro.) She gave the Brown Cohort members an interesting look into her time at Brown and her experience after Brown. This especially fascinated Zunarah as she wants to go into the same line of work as Alice Pineiro is currently in. However, this conversation did not last long as soon it was time to eat.

 I quickly found my table, and as I sat down, I began to make small talk with the others at my table. They were: Sally Swanson who is a long-time interviewer, sponsor, and supporter of the Ivy League Connection, my father, myself, Irene Rojas-Carroll who attended Women and Leadership when she was in high school and later went on to attend Brown, Adrienne Ramsey who took both the Women and Leadership course and another course with the Ivy League Connection, and Don Gosney. 
From left to right: Allen Meacham, myself, and Irene Rojas-Carroll
However, the small talk didn’t last very long as the salads were soon served and the speeches started.
The speeches were led by Madeline Kronenberg who is a member of the School Board and one of the founders of the Ivy League Connection. Her introduction was followed by Bianche who did an excellent speech about how thankful she was. Bianche was then followed by Irene Rojas-Carroll who talked about how the Ivy League Connection shaped her life. Following Irene, Javaria talked, followed by Kevin, and finally, Don Gosney. All of the speeches were excellent and they all had elements that really connected to the audience. Once the speeches were over, it was time for the main course.

I ordered the Salmon dish, which although delicious, showed itself to not be the star of the show. The real star of the show was most definitely the conversation. We started by discussing Irene’s achievements throughout not only high school with her development of the Gay, Straight, Alliance, but also through her young adulthood and her plans for the future. This merged into several different topics which, to not bore the reader, I will shorten. We discussed Sally Swanson’s role and her support of activism throughout the years, we talked about my personal goals and outcomes for the Women and Leadership course, we discussed Adrienne's future and how she enjoyed college, and several other topics. This ended once dinner was over, dessert dishes were being served, and Don said that it was time to take to go outside and take a group photo.

So, freezing, my cohort and I, as well as interviewers and alums, made our way downstairs to take a picture. The picture taking process itself was quite uneventful, and the potato we found on the ground was much more interesting.
We made Don take a picture of us with the potato.
Once Don was done taking pictures, the evening really did come to an end. Thank you’s were said, last minute pictures were taken, and soon, everyone was either getting into their cars or walking to the BART station. 

Although interesting, the BART ride back proved itself to be less lively and informative as the first trip, as people had already been talking all night and were generally tired. Luckily, the ride home was fairly quick and before long, all of the ILCers said their goodbye’s and we were on our way home after a delightful, informative, and enlightening experience.  

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Here, There and Everywhere!

While traveling back east, of course I'd be happy to go just about anywhere, but if I were to narrow down my choices, the main seven things I would like to do and see are:
  • Dundery Brook Trail
  • Roger Williams Park Museum of Natural History and Planetarium
  • One Liberty Observation Deck
  • Reading Terminal Market
  • The Philadelphia Zoo
  • Roger Williams Park Botanical Center
  • Eastern State Penitentiary

The first on my list would be to walk the Dundery Brook Trail. I love to be out in nature and hike during my free time, so being able to walk this trail while back east would overfill me with happiness and joy. I also love wildlife, so being able to spot some cool creatures along the trail would be amazing.
Visiting the Roger Williams Park Museum of Natural History and Planetarium also catches my interest quite a lot since I have a strong passion for astronomy. I love learning all that I can about space since it's what we're in, and because it is so vast and mysterious! Planetariums are also a favorite of mine, because of the spectacular visuals they provide.

The third thing I would like to do is visit the One Liberty Observation Deck in Philadelphia. I would love to visit this attraction so that I would be able to see the city from a birds eye view. Although heights do make me a little nervous, I think that the view would take all of my uneasiness away.  I also think that seeing a sunset from their would be absolutely stunning.
View the observation deck building.
I consider myself to be a "Foodie", which is a person who is very passionate and interested in food. Although I do have some dietary restrictions, I love trying all sorts of different foods. That's why visiting the Reading Terminal Market sounds like the perfect place for a person like me to visit. I would love to be able to see all of the different, local foods provided there, and perhaps even try something new.

Like I said before, I love wildlife, and that's why going to The Philadelphia Zoo would make me the happiest person on Earth! Growing up, my favorite channel to watch on TV was in fact "Animal Planet". I would also spend hours at the library skipping through the pages of national geographic magazines, learning about all the different types of species on Earth. Anything from tarantulas to the blue whale (the biggest animal on our planet!) make me smile.
Did I mention I love nature yet? Because I do! Another one of my favorite hobbies is gardening, I love being able to grow something from such a tiny seed into something magnificent and beautiful. Gardening isn't all that easy either, so many factors go into how a plant lives, from the amount of water given to the plant, to the nutrients within the soil. Being able to visit the Botanical Center at Roger Williams Park in Rhode Island, would be a magical experience for not only me, but everyone else as well since it features beautiful tropical plants and a koi pond. 
Roger Williams Park: Botanical Center
The seventh place I would like to visit would be the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia. Since I grew up in the bay area, I have been to the famous Alcatraz Island many times throughout my life. So I think that visiting another prison all the way across the country just makes sense. The prison is also famous for once holding the notorious "Scarface" or Al Capone which is really cool! I'd like to be able to see what the cells looked like, and what life might have been like for the prisoners there. 

When on the East Coast...

With a a very strong love for both food and art, narrowing down the places I would like to visit has been one of the most difficult things I have done in my life, no joke. Three weeks on the other side of the country would be any teenager's dream come true, I know it definitely is for me. This summer my cohort and I will be spending majority of our time in Providence, along with Philadelphia, and fingers crossed (I've been praying all day), Manhattan. With such little time and so much to see, creating a list of things I'd like to see and/or do is a must. Here are the few that were narrowed down with much difficulty:

1) WaterFire Providence: This is an old tradition of Providence, where they have actual bonfires floating above three rivers within the city. The aroma of fire along with music just sounds like summer. It would be a wonderful way to spend the last few days of our trip strolling along such a beautiful sight at night.
WaterFire perforamances
2)  Narragansett Town Beach/Bay: A summer trip could not be complete without a trip to the beach. On a day where there isn't much going on, or my group and I would just like to take a break, the beach would be not only relaxing, but also quite enjoyable. Reading back on blogs from a few years ago, the groups definitely seemed to enjoy the beach. 
Off the coast of Providence

3) Rhode Island School of Design Museum: Art is something I always enjoy; I may definitely not be the best at it, but that doesn't stop me. Being one of the oldest museums in the entire nation, I'm sure there's something there for everyone to enjoy. Since it is a school after all, seeing the artwork of the students would be quite refreshing. 

Student artwork

Since we will be spending most of our time in Providence, there'll be plenty of time to look around; however with the other sites we will be very limited on time, so cramming a ton of activities in one day is just not possible. Starting with Philly, here are a few places I'd like to visit:

4) Reading Terminal Market: Once we arrive in Philadelphia, we'll be on our feet all day and we're bound to get hungry. What a better way to spend it than in this incredibly colorful market. This indoor market is full of different varieties of food from all over the globe. Along with food, there are plenty of little stalls and shops with knick knacks and clothing.
A multitude of food options
5) Magic Garden/ Elfreth Alley: I put the two together because I would like to visit them for the same reason: it'd be great to take pictures at both places. One is a little "garden" made completely of mosaic, while the other is one of America's oldest residential streets. Both places are gorgeous and snapping a few shots wouldn't hurt anyone. 

Magic Garden
Elreth Alley

Now moving onto the place I have always dreamed of visiting: New York.

6) Metropolitan Museum of Art: How can one possibly visit the heart of New York and not visit the Met? It celebrates cultures from all over the world and is one of the most visited museums in the entire world. As I mentioned earlier, I love art, but what I adore more than art is learning about different cultures. I think there is a lot to gain from a single trip to this museum. 
Exterior of the Met

7) Live Jazz Performance: All day Sinatra's "New York, New York" has been stuck in my head.Music is one of the very few things that ties people all around the world together. Being able experience some of the world's best music in one of the world's most popular cities would be one hell of an experience, and sharing that experience with my amazing cohort? Even better.
Live Russ Nolan performance

These of course are just few of the many, many places I would like to visit during my time on the East Coast. There's so much I would like to do, but most importantly, I know I'll have regardless of where ever I end up going. July is getting closer and closer each day, and I'm just counting down the days.

Oh, the Places I'd Go

The world is full of many sights to see, every turn you make is another part of history. Yet everyone has a different taste when it comes to where they would like to spend their time. Out of the many places I could go I have picked the following seven places as possible destinations I would enjoy doing in my future:

  • One Liberty Observation Deck
  • Penn Museum
  • Room Escape Philadelphia
  • Escape Rhode Island
  • Providence Performing Arts Center
  • Providence Ghost Tour
  • A Simple Walk

The first on my list is One Liberty Observation Deck which is in Philadelphia. I know many people who are terrified of heights but personally if I could move to the clouds I would. I would love to go during the evening preferably right as the sun is going down and the stars are becoming visible. Being located around many lights the dimmest star we can see has a magnitude of four but they would be the same magnitude four stars we see back in the Bay Area.

Next on my list is the Penn Museum, which is located with-in the University of Pennsylvania. The Penn Museum is home to many different artifacts that are on display one is a child mummy. These artifacts tell a story of how people lived before us and thinking about it the device you are reading this one will one day be considered an artifact.

I am a huge fan of trying to solve riddles and puzzles which is the reason why I decided to put Room Escape Philadelphia and Escape Rhode Island on my list. I tend to find solving problems relaxing and believe that this could be an amazing team bonding activity. At these both places, you are given an hour to solve riddles around the room and collect clues to escape. Every room has a different theme to choose from which can satisfy any detective fan looking for a riddle.

The Providence Performing Arts Center is also known as the “Jewel of Weybosset Street” was opened back in 1928. Even though the theater has received a few upgrades since it was first opened it has kept its amazing interior designs that brought over 14,000 people to see it since that day in 1928. I would love to be able to watch a production in this amazing theater. 

For many tours are a boring ordeal, the Providence Ghost Tour takes you through the historical streets of East Side with a twist. Now many of my friends will know I am also a horror fan and being able to take a tour where I learn about the area as well as hear the chilling stories that took place is a dream come true. Personally, if I could pick one of all seven on this list this would be the one. And this would encompass my last point which is just walking around and enjoy the surrounding it is not every day I get to leave the Bay Area so I will enjoy taking a nice walk preferably with a small horror twist. 

Monday, May 29, 2017

A Destination's Desires

When talking to several Brown ILC alumni, I've realized how much there is to explore around the campus that doesn't revolve around academics or studies. As an individual, I appreciate the arts and admire creativity that goes along with careful planning. Because of this, I look forward to seeing three exhibits pertaining to inspiration and creativity- the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) Museum, Newport Mansions, and WaterFire- in Providence. 

A sneak peek of what's inside the museum.

The RISD Museum was founded in 1877 and holds works from around the world that ranges from modern famous artists to rare ancient sculptures from several thousand years ago. Because this place is one of the largest museums in America with a variety of artistic pieces, the place would definitely hold my attention for hours and will give me inspiration for later art projects in the future.

When reading past Brown University ILC blogs, many of them would mention the Newport Mansions in Rhode Island. As I searched the web for pictures of several Newport mansions, I immediately fell in love with the architecture, aesthetics, and designs each of them had. Being able to see it in real life would be a dream come true!

Another attraction I'd love to go to would be WaterFire, which is located in downtown Providence.  The fire sculpture includes more than 100 bonfires spread throughout three rivers, captivating many visitors that tour around the city during nighttime. Being able to see the bonfires in the rivers, along with the nightlife in the city would be a wonderful experience to share with the rest of my cohort.
The WaterFire Salute.
Independence Hall (on the right) and the President's House (on the left).
Aside from Providence, our cohort is going to travel to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. When I hear of Philadelphia, one of the first things that come into mind is liberty and freedom. From American history, Philadelphia is home to several iconic figures that has shaped America's ideology. I'm eager to see the Independence National Historical Park, which is home to the President's House, Liberty Bell Center, and Independence Hall. 

The next landmark I want to go to the Eastern State Penitentiary, a complete turn around from the National Park's aura of freedom. The penitentiary was based on a radical experiment that believed prisoners would become better people by isolating them from the outside world. To this day, this concept accepted and used in almost all prisons worldwide.

Since I've never been to a zoo, the Elmwood Park Zoo would be the perfect destination to experience what it's like for the first time. There are several activities in the zoo that have caught my attention, such as the treetop zip lines, predator exhibit, and reptile lodge. Being able to observe these animals and interact with them would be thrilling and memorable.

Lastly, if we were able to go to Manhattan, New York City, I would love to go to the Statue of Liberty. As one of the most well-known and tallest monuments in America, she is the symbol of hope and freedom for many citizens in the country. It would be a great honor to step inside the statue and see the city through the gaps of her crown.
The beautiful Statue of Liberty overlooking the city.
When I journey through these three states and tour around their areas, I'll be able to absorb more than just textbook knowledge. I'll also gain more awareness of America's history and appreciate the arts more than before. Most importantly, I'd be able to share these memories with the four members in my cohort. I'm sure we'll all have an enjoyable and lasting experience this summer!

How Will the Free Time be Spent?

Water Fire Providence
The first thing I want to participate in is “Water Fire Providence.” This was first introduced to my doctor who did her pediatric residency and chief residency at Brown University. She described it in sort of a cheesy way, but when I got home and looked more into it, it sounded really fascinating. What happens is fires are lit all along a canal while music plays. Apparently is very beautiful and an experience to have.

The second thing I want to do once on the east coast is go to a beach. This might seem a little boring, but looking at some of the previous year’s blogs, it seemed like one of the most enjoyable activities on a hot day. Going to the beach might also be a nice if my fellow cohort members and I are just not wanting to have an academic outing.

Of course, if we are looking for an academic outing, there are an abundance of museums that sound compelling. I don’t think that there’s a specific reason I want to go to a museum, I simply think that any museum would be an interesting way to spend our free time in Rhode Island, and that it could further our knowledge of the history surrounding the development of Brown University.  

Rhode Island School of  Design
Another academic outing would be the Rhode Island School of Design. As someone who is not a very artistic person, I was skeptical that this would be something I would enjoy when I saw it listed on the list of top 10 things to do near Brown University. However, one the reviews stated that “the art is so varied that it will appeal to everyone.” So, intrigued, I looked into their website. As I looked further into their website I did find their various exhibits interesting. I also realized that I have never been to an art museum or anything of that nature, and this would be an interesting experience to have.

Another outing that might be fun to do is simply going to the mall and hanging out. After spending a lot of time in class, a little boning and silly time might be just what we need.

If we don’t feel like doing something indoors but we also just want to have a chill day, there also appears to be a few big farmers markets that we could roam around and eat some fresh food at (which might be nice considering colleges are notorious for having bad food.)

For our trip in Philadelphia, I think it would be really fun to go the Philadelphia zoo. I haven’t been to a zoo in a good five or so years, and so for that reason, along with just thinking it would be fun, I think that the Philadelphia zoo is a place I would like to visit on our trip.

The final thing I would like to potentially see on our adventures is the Adventure Aquarium. There is no particular reason for wanting to visit this except that when browsing through things to do in Philadelphia, this popped up, and it seemed like something that would be very fascinating to do. It is described as being a “Massive aquarium with a 4-D experience theater plus hippos, stingrays & an underwater shark tunnel.”
Adventure Aquarium

Although I know we will not be able to do all of these things, or even any of these things, I’m confident that in our free time my cohort and I, as well as our chaperone, will enjoy our time immensely, even if we’re just hanging out at a local park!

Getting the Whole Team Together!

After a long day of finals, it was time to go the Board Meeting. When I arrived I could not help but wonder who the group in front of the meeting was. I would soon come to find that they are Serra Adult School and we saw their passion for the school.

As I made my way to the meeting spot I couldn’t help but get excited I would finally meet our chaperone. When I finally made my walk a crossed the endless room, well endless to anyone in heels, I was elated to meet Kendra Amerson. We clicked right away and I knew I could not image having another chaperon. As we waited for Don to begin all five of us  Brown girls found ourselves huddled around Kendra. As we introduced ourselves she worked her hardest to pronounce our names. As we waited for the meeting we began planning our girls night out to get to know everyone in a more relaxed setting and we all agreed on painting pottery. 

Once we made our way inside I could not help but get butterflies. The amazing opportunity I would soon embark on had begun to sink in. As we waited for our spot on the agenda we heard from many of the community members regarding a local adult school named Serra. According to those who stood up to defend the school their school was to be closed down for another program. Which later stated by Superintendent Matt Duffy the school was not going to be closed down rather share a space with a program, sadly I did not have a chance to see how the community felt about what Superintendent Duffy had stated. 

After hearing about Serra it was our turn to go up and address the School Board. Standing in front of them was not as nerve racking as I thought it would be, I did have the advantage of knowing someone sitting on the board from Middle College High School. Once we all went up we heard from the chaperons and from a member of each of our cohorts. I found all the speeches to be very reluctant of what I felt going through the process of applying, being picked, and finally what this all means to us.

After our last member went up it was time to go outside and take our group photo. After Don took around 30 photos for insurance we would at least get one great photo we all broke up and took individual photos either with our cohort or among ourselves. 

Bay Area Weather is the Best Weather

Wednesday night was the long awaited ILC School Board meeting; for me, however, it was just another regular board meeting--the exception being I was looking much more forward to this meeting than the ones in the past. I was not only going to get together with all of my cohort, but all of the other ILCers as well. There aren't many instances where we all get together, so I was ecstatic.

I came home after school and took a much needed two hour nap, knowing it was going to be a long night. I woke up, got dressed, and made my way over to Lovonya Dejean.  I arrived the same time as my leadership adviser at school, who I am incredibly proud to say received an administrative position over at Richmond High for the upcoming school year (congrats Hillyer!). My dad and I made our way into the building and figured the rest of the group was outside. My attempts of being early had once again failed, as Don began speaking right when I arrived.  He went over the basic procedures of the night and allowed us to meet our chaperones.

My cohort and I were then introduced to the lovely Kendra! She was incredibly sweet and nice, I'm sure we'll be getting along together just fine. Through the midst of all the conversation, the cold began biting at my hands, and so we all made our way back inside. I may or may not be over exaggerating, but it most definitely was cold, especially when it was beach weather just a day prior. Everyone became situated inside and I took my seat up on the stage along with the other Board members. 

Seeing how packed the room was that evening, I already knew there was going to be A LOT of public comment that night, and I was right--34 to be exact. The main issue being voiced that night was regarding the Serra Adult School. This has been floating around for quite a few months now, so it wasn't anything new to me; however, my fellow ILCers looked quite surprised as each person expressed their opinions on the issue. About half an hour later, public comment was over, and we moved onto the next item on the agenda. Right when President Block said "Ivy League Connection", I walked off the stage and joined the rest of the group. 

Don started us off introducing the program, its purpose, as well as what it offers. The wonderful chaperones then began to introduce each of their respective cohorts, including the student speakers. Evan, Robson, and Lindsay all spoke extremely well, considering our time constraint. It was then my turn to speak. I had chosen the topic of what we would be doing once we arrive over on the east coast. Being on the Board for the past 6 months has made me very comfortable around all the Board members and staff; however being on the other side is a bit more difficult than it seems. Once the speeches were over, we all headed outside to take our group photos. 
I don't remember a word I said

We all arranged ourselves according to Don's instruction, hoping the wind would die down a bit, it did not. Cold, windy air and group photos? What a wonderful combination. Don took over 40 pictures since every few minutes someone's hand would be in the air readjusting their hair (guilty). After the group pictures, Don took our individual cohort pictures and any other photo requests we had. 

After the group pictures, my dad left as I had to stay the rest of the night for the meeting. We took a few more photographs and most the ILCers and their families had left. Noor and Raqeeb's parents continued speaking with Don, and I decided to stay a little longer and catch up with the two. Despite the cold air, it was really nice talking to the two of them, our conversation was all over the place. Their parents were done talking and were ready to leave, we all said our goodbyes and they headed home while I made my way back up to the stage for the remainder of the meeting. 

I would say that this meeting was an overall success. We might have not received as much recognition from the School Board as we would have liked; however no one left unhappy. I was able to catch up with faces I hadn't seen in a while, as well as a few new ones. Best of all, we managed to get some great photographs out of it. With each milestone event, the time for our trips are approaching and I'm beginning to grow more and more restless.

I love them!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

A Powerful Protest and Introspect from ILC

When I first arrived at Lavonya Dejean Middle, I heard loud drumming from protests outside the multipurpose room. I came fairly early, so I sat through the noise eating my pre-made dinner. After a couple of minutes, my mother and I decided it was time to go inside. 

Once I arrived at the courtyard I spent most of my time talking to my cohort members to catch up on everything we missed out. We introduced ourselves to our chaperone, Kendra Amerson, for the first time. We immediately set up a meet-and-greet dinner at a pottery and painting place. I liked the idea of spending time with my cohort members, and adding art to the meet up sounded ten times better.

Zunarah's speech was great at the
School Board meeting! 
When I entered the doors of the multipurpose room, I was surprised since I did not expected it to be so large. We soon found ourselves in the middle of a heated protest -- banners, speeches, angry adults, and all- making their way to fight for Serra. Serra is an adult school which the School Board planned on replacing with a Mandarin immersion school. Hearing all of the people's statements struck a sympathetic chord in my heart, and internally wished the best of luck for them.

After more than 30 speeches from Serra Adult School, it was our turn to present. Don first gave an introduction and summary of ILC's history, then the chaperones presented our names and courses we were taking. During this, we all proudly held up the representative banners for our colleges wide enough for the School Board to see. Lastly, each member of the four cohorts took turns saying their speeches and thanking the School Board for the support they've given over the years. I particularly liked Robson's speech, which emphasized his words by using "very" a plentiful amount of times.

When all the speeches were finished, we returned to the middle school's courtyard to take a couple of pictures. Most of us were shivering as Don took several shots of all the ILCers, their chaperones, and their parents. It took a good twenty minutes until all the pictures were taken, I was certain I blinked in almost all of them. Many of us stayed to take pictures with our friends and family. In the middle of it, I decided using the Brown University flag as a blanket would help keep me warm, and it certainly did. The ILC flags also served as awesome capes Jahnvi and I put to good use.
Jahnvi and I wearing our capes with pride.
As the day ended, I realized how grateful I was to meet the people coming with me in this journey. Amelia, Esmeralda, Kelsey, and Zunarah are all absolutely a blast to work with, and we get along perfectly. Ms. Amerson is cheerful and optimistic, two things we definitely need during this trip across the states. I can't wait to spend tons of time with them at Brown this summer!
Teamwork makes the dream work!

Friday, May 26, 2017

The Pieces are Coming Together

On Wednesday, May 24th, at 6:00 PM I met up with all the ILC cohorts at Lovonya DeJean Middle School for the School Board meeting, and to finally meet our wonderful chaperone. As I was on my way to the middle school I was rereading Don’s email to make sure that I wasn’t forgetting anything, fortunately everything was fine.

Upon arriving at the middle school there was a group of what seemed to look like protesters, standing outside of the multipurpose room. I hurriedly walked through the building and across the room to the courtyard, where I was pleased to see the familiar face of Don and other ILC members. I met up with Esmeralda and we chatted about how our finals were going for a while until Don instructed us to meet with our chaperones.

Our chaperone, Kendra Amerson, was already standing near us and we introduced ourselves. She was super nice, and she seemed like the perfect person to be our chaperone. We then discussed where we would be meeting up to get to know each other more. We all decided that painting pottery sounded really fun since we didn’t want the meetup to be completely centered around food. I have a strong passion for art, and love anything creative, so this felt like a great activity to do.
Discussing where we should go

We walked back into the multipurpose room and sat down in the front row. We held out our Brown University flag in front of us proudly. As the meeting began, I finally learned that the protesters were from Serra Adult School, many individuals from the school came up to speak about how they didn’t want their school to be closed.

When the school was done talking about their concerns, it was our time to get up and stand in front of the School Board, and have our chaperones and cohort speakers come up to the podium. I have to admit, I felt pretty nervous just standing up there. Don went up first and stated some very appalling statistics about the benefits that the ILC does for our members and communities. After Don’s impressive speech, the chaperones from each cohort came up and introduced each member to the board, then followed by the cohort speakers.

After everyone did their great speeches we headed back outside into the cold to take the group photo. It was extremely windy and everyone's hair was flying all over the place. While Don was snapping shots, I began to realize that everything has been happening so quickly. All of the pieces are coming together so quickly. It feels like just yesterday that I was at El Cerrito High School, waiting to go in for my interview. I am so grateful to be able to embark on this experience, and meet all of these wonderful people.
My cohort and the lovely Kendra Amerson.