Friday, June 1, 2012

Hillary Step

Last night, the 42 ILCers from around WCCUSD gathered together in Pinole Middle School's multi-purpose room for an orientation about our trips, the final step before we board our flight at SFO on June 18th. 

The night began with speeches from Madeleine Kronenberg and Charles Ramsey regarding expectations of all of us over the summer; each of them emphasized some of the do's and do-not's such as always respecting your chaperons and always, always representing the West Contra Costa Unified School District with class and with the dignity that admissions officers, professors, chaperons and our families expect out of us. Ms. Kronenberg told us that this was not a prize, but a privilege that we earn on a day-by-day basis, much more like a job. We would be representing not just ourselves and our families, but the entire Ivy League Connection and the WCCUSD as well. Next, Don went over some of the tools and accessories we will most likely need during our time away and reminded us all that these would be "loaner" items, not gifts.

After their speeches, we were broken up into our cohorts, and Mrs. L, the six of us and our parents were sent to a room a few doors down the hall from the multi-purpose room. Mrs. L went over a lot of Columbia specific information, such as the fact that we will not need to bring pillows or bed sheets with us to New York (giving us more room in our luggage) and possible issues such as a high percentage of commuter students attending the program (some of these students might invite us to their houses, but we won't go). We were also given our trip itinerary, and I have to say, it felt fantastic to see on paper all the things we would be doing. The day after we arrive in New York, we'll be boarding a train to Philadelphia first thing in the morning, having lunch with a UPenn admissions officer(s?) and then taking a tour of University of Pennsylvania. Somewhere in that schedule, we'll also visit Independence Hall, and, to make a long story short, we'll have a packed schedule with tons to do.

Of course Mrs. L also reminded us, that, even though no one in the Ivy League Connection has anything to complain about, we do have it a little better off than the other groups, being in New York City. One new rule Mrs. L told us about was a new rule about cell phones - that you could not have your cell phone out at any ILC activities. She said it was disrespectful, and honestly, I could not agree more. I see far too often that people, myself included, are glued to screens when there are so many more things to see and so many more conversations to have.

While the orientation was simply a step to inform us, it meant so much more to us to have gotten past this final step and being only a few away from boarding a plane to New York. This may be a somewhat strange analogy, and I can't really explain why it just popped into my head a few minutes ago, but I compare the feeling of completing the orientation to the feeling of climbers on Mt. Everest having just climbed past the "Hillary Step," the final obstacle before the summit. Between the Hillary Step and the Summit lies a stretch of only a few hundred feet without any major obstacles, a comparatively easy distance to climb after having ascended 29-thousand-something feet. This is where I feel we're at right now. After applying more than 4 months ago in January, we are a mere 18 days away from boarding our flight to New York! Sorry for the random analogy, but however weird it may have been I find it is fitting.

Anyway, I cannot put into words how excited I am for this trip, and I know we are all counting down the days until we leave. And exactly 17 days from now, at 4:30 in the morning, we'll saying goodbyes and boarding the airport shuttle!

Also, I acknowledge that Mrs. L told us today we needed to work on improving our time management (so that we can eliminate the 4 AM blog posts), and today I can safely say that I handled my time well, I am simply overloaded with work. Thankfully, though, I have 5 days of school left, and after that, I can devote all of my time to the amazing opportunity I've given of going to New York this summer to study Constitutional Law.

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