Saturday, June 23, 2012

Us and the UN

Bus Ride through New York
No words can describe the whirlwind of events after what was expected to be a “chill” day. So our day started later than usual. We congregated at 10:30 AM to have breakfast at the diner right next to the Beacon Hotel. After a nice breakfast, we took the bus to the United Nation’s Visitors Center. The bud ride compared to the subway is more familiar to me than the subway; in bus, you don’t feel the same hustle and bustle atmosphere New Yorkers display when taking the subway.
Inside the United Nations Visitors Center

UN Fallen Flag from Afghanistan

Displaced people in Kenya

Fundraiser for UNICEF
Once we arrived at the UN Visitors Center, we all were granted thirty minutes to look at the displays before having a little one on one time with our chaperon, Ms. L. What was really unique about today in the UN was a Royal Scottish dance fundraiser they had to raise funds for the United Nations Children’s Funds, or more popularly known as UNICEF. The displays stirred emotions inside of me; although I knew in the back of my mind the problems of the world, being able to see them in pictures and manuscripts was a whole different thing. My perspective of the suffering of displaced people and refugees has become clearer than ever. From refugees fleeing Somalia on a boat to camps and huts where displaced people of Kenya live, the problems of our world have never impacted me in such a way and have made me realize what a fortunate life I’m living right now. After my little tour, I talked to Ms. L about a how I felt about everything and few ground rules. In all, it was a good talk and it reassures Ms. L about her faith in our group.

Live Colombian Music at a Street Fair
After our visit to the UN Center, we tried looking for a bus to take us back to the hotel. Our map directed us to a stop where it said the bus would be while the directory said it wouldn’t, so our group became stumped for a while. We finally just decided to take a train and transfer. Along our way to the subway, we passed through a Colombian street fair. There was live music with a talented little boy who played drums and many different booths with food and activities. Then our growling stomachs directed us to a pizza parlor where we ate a late lunch. After lunch we headed back to the hotel and prepared for our dinner with the Yale alumni and current students.

Family Style Meal: Appetizers

Family Style Meal: Entree
Our dinner tonight, for me, was one of the best by far. It wasn’t just the family style meal we had at the delicious Greek restaurant, Estiatorio Milos, but the people we were able to converse with. I had the pleasure of speaking with Aaron Shipp and Angela Ning. Aaron studied English Literature and Theatre while Angela studies the History of Science and Medicine. The Yalies were all so animated about their experiences at Yale University. From the social life  to admissions process, my conversation with the two was very helpful. As a life coach, Aaron even probed deeper into my character and has helped me decide what my own personal statement shall be. In all, it was a very rewarding evening for me. When I first visited Yale University, I didn’t know whether or not it was for me but now that I’ve talked and understood the protocols and experiences I never realized what an amazing school I was disregarding.

So from my previous statements, most people can infer my preference to Yale University. I will admit that it is now a school I am considering along with Sarah Lawrence College. For me, Yale University has the atmosphere and type of people I would love to experience my four years of college with. Although the university does not offer my intended major, I know I will be able major in something similar to prepare for graduate school elsewhere. For Sarah Lawrence College, I find the school to be an absolute fit for me due to its 3-2 Engineering program. This program will enable me to study three years at Sarah Lawrence and two at Columbia University, gaining a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts and engineering. Although Sarah Lawrence is in a rather rural area, the commute to metropolitan NYC is only thirty minutes. University of Pennsylvania left a better impression on me after our dinner with a few of their alumni. I loved the campus and the programs are similar to that of Yale University, but I didn’t feel the comfortable atmosphere I felt at Yale. As for Vassar College, I don’t think it would be the right choice for me. Vassar is a very nice liberal arts school but I also didn’t feel the comfortable atmosphere I felt at other universities.

Peace, Love, Yale

Today was probably the most relaxed day we will have in the program. We only had two things for our agenda: a trip to the United Nations and the Yale dinner. Tomi and I awoke at 10 this morning and headed down to the lobby to wait for the others. Once everyone had arrived, we went next door to eat breakfast at the local diner. I was very happy that we got to do this because all our past breakfasts have been quick stops for bagels and juice at the train station. We definitely upgraded this time; I got a heaping load of three buttermilk pancakes, bacon, and a large glass of cranberry juice. It was delicious.

My wonderful breakfast
Outside of the diner 
We took two buses to the United Nations and arrived within twenty minutes. The United Nations is a place where representatives from different countries come to combat poverty, keep peace within the world (and especially in terms of keeping the countries from going to war), and to improve human rights. After going through security, we were able to look at different exhibits. I enjoyed this because I learned a lot about ongoing poverty in Asia and Africa and how food shortages really affect the world. After being at the United Nations for about two hours, we decided to head back to the hotel. However, there were bus troubles and we ended up eating lunch at a pizza restaurant before taking the subway back to the hotel, which took a long time as well. When we got back to the hotel, we had a little over an hour to get ready for the Yale dinner at Estiatorio Milos. I was especially excited for this dinner because I wanted to learn so much more about Yale.

Gift to the United Nations 
Posing (=
Information about how the United Nations wants to help indigenous peoples
Exhibit about indigenous peoples and the foods they are able to eat

Growing cracks in the ice in Alaska
Short piece about food shortages

Group of girls learning in school in Asia
What I wrote in the journal about hopes for the world
Children and an adult during the aftermath of the 2010 Haiti earthquake
I really wanted to buy this book but it's very long and I feel like I'd be better suited just checking it out at the library. I got to read it for a little bit and it was superb.
Delicious pizza lunch!
Opinions about the Yale dinner:

1. One concept I have really learned about Yale is how connected the community is. There really is a loving and supporting student body at Yale. What has really appealed to me about Yale is how they do not want students who need someone to hold their hand through college, but people who are willing to take support and learn from others. Freshman year in college is a foreign experience for everyone, and I feel that Yale really makes sure that freshman are given a lot of support from upperclassmen and given a good base in their residential colleges so that they are able to have very strong years at Yale. That is definitely something that appeals to me. 

2. To my right was Beatriz, who graduated from Yale in 1998 with a double-major in History and International Studies. At the time, International Studies could only be a second major, and she was very interested in political science and history. She said that she definitely loved the community at Yale and felt that they were very welcoming. Beatriz gave us good advice in terms of signing up for a college interview; she stated that if you feel you look shaky on paper or just really want to learn more about the college, sign up for them. She admitted that alum don't have much of a say in terms of admissions officers making their decisions but it is at least worth a try. We shared a lot of laughs and I will be definitely be contacting her with questions about Yale. 

3. On my left was Angela, who is a rising junior at Yale and one of Yohanna's suitemates. Angela is pre-med and is majoring in the History of Science & History of Medicine. She gave me lots of advice on the personal statement, such as to write about experiences that really help the person grow. I definitely agreed with her, as my personal statement topic is going to be about an experience that affected me and caused me to change. Angela also stressed how important it is to start college applications early and to not wait until winter break to start them (she did that and assured me that it was the worst winter break of her life).

4. Sitting a couple of seats away from me was Aaron, who graduated from Yale and was an English and Theater Arts major. He gave me really good information on Yale's English department, which really focuses on strengthening the writer's opinion and helping them work on their essays. He also gave me great information about the Comparative Literature major at Yale, which I am interested in. I didn't talk to him too much but am grateful for that information. He also said some super funny stuff, which made me laugh.

5. Yohanna really emphasized the importance of showing your interest in the school and really making sure that it comes across how you are special. She stated that college applications are simply the way to present yourself to someone who doesn't know you and to take advantage of that opportunity and really show what makes you stand out.

6. I thoroughly enjoyed the Yale dinner. What I mostly enjoyed was how comfortable the alumni were and how much they showed that they cared, not just about Yale, but about us as well. They gave us all their contact information to not only email them questions about Yale but the college application process as well. The Yale community seems very loving and opening, and Yale is a fantastic university. I am really interested in Yale now and definitely plan on applying.

Assortment of bread, cucumber salad, and calamari
We ate a really big family style dinner, which I enjoyed
Filet mignon and French fries
Tomi, Beatriz, and I
Raspberry, strawberry, and vanilla sorbet
Yohanna and I
This is the last night we will be spending in the hotel room. Tomorrow we move into Columbia, get to meet our floormates, and enjoy a schoolwide barbecue. I'm very excited yet nervous, however, the excitement weighs out the nervousness by a lot. I'm really excited to meet new people and see what Columbia has to offer.

These college tours have really affected me. I've truly begun to realize what I want and don't want in a school. I want a medium-sized campus in an urban area that has great departments in English and political science. I do not think I will apply to Penn and Vassar, but I am definitely applying to Sarah Lawrence and Yale due to their urban areas, beautiful campuses, great departments, wonderful extracurriculars, and wonderful campuses. I am glad we visited all these different colleges because I feel like I have a better grip on the college application process and truly know what I want in a college.