Thursday, May 31, 2012

Columbia, Here I Come!

Today, the Ivy League Connection Program had an orientation at Pinole Middle School.

The orientation began with the introductions of the Ivy League Connection's chaperones, followed by the speeches from both Charles Ramsey and Madeline Kronenberg. They spoke about the importance of making a good impression and how the way we present ourselves can affect a person's personal opinion of not only us, but on our entire school district as well.

As the chosen representatives of West Contra Costa Unified School District we are expected to act as the nature young adults that our communities raised us to be, and I, for one, am ready to exceed to expectations.

After all introductions and formalities were said and done with, it was Don Gosney's turn to speak. Don mainly focused on what sort of items we should pack during our trip. Most of them were pretty standard items, like a camera, bed sheets, and a towel; other things on the list, however, seemed a bit unconventional--like zip-lock and trash bags. However, when Don went into greater detail, everything began to make a lot more sense. In fact, I've cone to really appreciate Don's advice! For instance, you ever thought of using trash bags to keep your wet clothes from getting mildew everywhere? I certainly haven't--and I'd like to thank Don for the tip!

When Don had finished speaking, the cohorts, parents, and chaperones were then grouped together by their respective schools and assigned a classroom, where they would discuss their school's itinerary in detail.

When my fellow cohorts and I seated ourselves in our designated classroom, my chaperone, Mrs. L, passed out packets detailing our travel schedule and what we should expect our dorms to be like. We were even able to talk to a few students who gave us a clearer idea of what to expect. Two were from Vassar, another school that we shall be briefly visiting, and former Columbia ILCer!

I felt that today's orientation was really helpful and that I feel more prepared for my upcoming trip. It's really hard to believe that today was the Ivy League Connection's last major event before heading off. And it's even harder to that on June 18th, which is in less than three weeks, I'll be on my way to Columbia!

One Step Closer!

Tonight was the Ivy League Connection Orientation, the final event before cohorts go off to the East Coast for the summer. I could not be more excited about this. The orientation took place in the Pinole Middle School multi-purpose room. My mother and I showed up about fifteen minutes early to get acquainted and talk with other students and their parents.

Don, my dad, and Madeline really lead the presentation. They each spoke of the importance of the program and following the rules. This year the ILC is really stressing the importance of proper behavior and respecting your chaperone. To me, these rules are not hard to follow because the chaperone is the authority figure and it is important to give your utmost respect to them, as well as being modest and casting good impressions on all those we will meet on the East Coast. However, one would be surprised at home some break these rules. I am glad that everyone in the program seems to understand these guidelines and not break the rules.

Don also spoke to us about loaner items, and I winced when he said he lost 800 dollars worth of loaner items last year. I was happy because I turned in all the loaner items I used from last year and cannot fathom why people would not return them - they are called "loaner" for a reason and it is stressed to us many times that we are supposed to give them back. Once again, respect and responsibility play a key role.

After a brief introduction of all the chaperones, we broke into our cohorts and separated into rooms. Ms. L handed us our Columbia itinerary, which mainly included flight and train information. We were also informed that we will have eight dinners! While I have a true soft spot for expensive food and elegance (who doesn't?!), even I am nervous about this prospect. However, I am sure that my cohort and I will make wonderful and lasting impressions on the questioning admission officers who will be attending our dinners.

Beilul, who participated in the ILC last year by taking the Presidential Powers course at Columbia and will be attending Brown University in the fall, spoke to us about her experiences. While I could not relate to her about the course (I am taking Constitutional Law), I found her testimonial about the activities and campus life to be interesting. Miho Hayashi-Groves and her friend Alex even came to speak to us about Vassar, the school they attend and the school we will be touring during our time at Columbia. They gave us basic facts about the school, which made me interested in Vassar all the more!

The orientation really helped me to get more excited for our trip and really stress the rules and regulations that we will have to follow through. I think we will all have a wonderful trip and June 18th cannot came fast enough!

And the Countdown Begins..

It's so surreal to know only eighteen days lie between me and the Big Apple. This evening, the ILC had the annual orientation meeting on the whole do's and do not's of the program. But the resounding message during the whole evening is that, "this is not a prize, it's more like a job." The ILC does expect its cohorts to not only make what's best of their trip but to be able to bring back and share our experiences with the other thousands of students who were not able to have this opportunity that we have been granted this summer.

After arriving promptly at 6:30, my mother and I seated ourselves to wait for the meeting to begin. Ms. Kronenberg started off with a speech about being a member of the ILC as a privilege. The ILC is willing to give us what is deemed necessary over the summer as well as the actual program itself but this opportunity can also be taken away when we are not displaying the wanted image for the WCCUSD. After a few more words, the chaperons were introduced and then we dispersed into our respective groups.

During our group meetings, my excitement was once again rekindled when being reminded of the Big Apple. We received packets on our departure and arrivals on plane as well as our train traveling dates. We were advised again to open a Citibank account for easy access to money since there's one located on campus at Columbia. Also we received a packet on how Columbia university operates as well as what we needed to bring. Luckily for our group, bed sheets, blankets, and pillow cases are included, so we now have more space in our suitcases! Information on our projected spending and dinners were also said. The Columbia group will be attending eight fancy dinners with Ms. Kronenberg attending three with us.

After our group finished our discussion, the ILC assembled as a whole and said a few departing words. Mr. Ramsey once again congratulated us on making it this far. And now the countdown begins. T minus 18 days and counting!