Friday, June 22, 2012

Roosevelt, Vassar, Heat and Streep

Today we took a train from Penn Station to Poughkeepsie. Just like yesterday, it was unbelievably hot. While there, we toured FDR's mansion. It's now well known that he went to great lengths to hide the extent of his polio. His home was a great example of that effort. He installed handrails everywhere, supposedly to help him walk down stairs. In actuality, they supported his impressive upper body weight/strength which he used to lift his lifeless legs to emulate walking. His house was impressive, and the surrounding country side was beautiful. I spent a good 20 minutes enjoying the environment. I also bought a shirt at the gift shop.

This was in the gift shop

After touring FDR's home, we headed out to Vassar College. The first thing I want to point out, is that Vassar has a CASTLE on its grounds. They call it a library, but I know a castle when I see one.
The Vassar info session was very informative. The admissions counselor not only told us what Vassar is looking for in a student, but explained some good techniques on picking the right school.

Tell me this isn't a castle

Despite the heat, the campus tour was lovely. The first thing we saw was Meryl Streep Hall, a small theatre. Streep is a Vassar alumnas, and she donated that building. We saw most of the Vassar dorms and class halls. They tend to be massive brick edifices with a lot of history.

We had to leave the tour early, to catch our train. It ended up running 30 minutes late, so we baked at the station while we could have been at the school. There was no way to have known in advance, but it was very unfortunate.

Despite getting back to the hotel late, we had plenty of time to get ready for arguably our best dinner yet. Tonight we were at Le Bernardin. There was a little confusion about our reservation time, so we had to wait a while to get a table. When we did, we had a pleasant surprise. There is a phenomenon called the Baader-Meinhof effect. This is when you learn something new and then encounter it almost immediately. Today I learned that Meryl Streep went to Vassar, and sitting at the table next to us was none other than Meryl Streep. None of us had a chance to talk to her, but it'll make a nice anecdote.

All of the food was incredible. We were served a four coarse meal of mostly raw or lightly cooked food. This was probably their hot weather menu. Personally, I didn't love my dessert, but all of the previous plates made up for it. At dinner, we had a discussion with Ms. Kronenberg about how we can give back to the school district. The vast majority of students didn't recieve the incredible opportunity that we are enjoying and we've known since day one that it was our responsibility to share our experience with them. After tossing around a lot of different ideas, we seem to have come to the decision that we will give presentations to 8th grade and freshman classrooms on the importance of keeping up grades and the availability of college. This will include a short film, a presentation, possibly a guest speaker (like an alumni of a local school), and a Q and A session. The details haven't been decided yet, but since were the first to have this discussion with Ms. Kronenberg, she has asked us to spearhead this endeavor. Hopefully we can collaborate on ideas with the other cohorts soon, but we understand that everyone is busy.


That was basically my day, in a nutshell. I finished the text of the UPenn blog on the train today, but I still have to add the photos. It should be up by tomorrow.

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