Sunday, July 15, 2012


I stayed up pretty late last night, so I had trouble working efficiently this morning. I didn't wake up early enough to go grab breakfast, so I just packed my bags and headed down to the gazebo to meet with Ms. L. I had a sinking feeling all day that I left something in my room. So far, I haven't noticed anything missing, so it was probably just nerves. After spending a month away from home, it's easy to feel unprepared to return.

When we had all assembled, we took a couple of cabs to get back to the Beacon Hotel, where Ms. L. was staying. We dropped off our bags in her room, and set off for Central Park.

This was my first time going inside the park. It was really cool, but very crowded. We only went in a little ways before reaching our destination: The Boat House Restaurant. The deck we were tabled on sat right in front of a lake, filled with rowboats and wildlife; it was a fantastic view. I had a brunch of fried eggs and sausages. I think they specialized in Italian food, but they had all kinds of meals for breakfast.

We spent some time strolling through the park after eating. I wish I could have taken pictures, but my camera was in my backpack, and my backpack was in Ms. Lilhanand's room.

Eventually, we made our back to the hotel and loaded our stuff into a shuttle for the airport.

I'm not going to go into detail about either the airport or the flight. We're all familiar with the hassle of flying, and I doubt anyone wants me to explain the mundane. I will say though, that we spent about twenty minutes trading things to carry, before the flight; some people's luggage was overweight, so they had to store some of their items with other students. Other than that, everything was pretty standard.

We arrived in San Francisco at about 8:00 PM. I expected that we would be in the middle of picking up our luggage, when parents would start to arrive; I was wrong. When we came down to the baggage claim, everyone was already there, waiting for us with signs and flowers (My mom got leis for everyone). It's hard to believe that this was my first time seeing my family in almost a month. There were a lot of hugs and "thank you"s before we all went our separate ways. It's weird being away from my cohort, now. I know I'll see them all again (especially Morvarid and Aurea), but it's still unsettling.

The ride home felt amazing. I can't believe how much I missed the Bay Area: the trees, the architecture, the water, the rolling fog bank, etc. Everything about it lets me know I'm home again.

My cat didn't seem to care about my reappearance. He walked right past me when I came home, and barely took notice of my presence. I think I need to get a dog.

My dad made hamburgers for us for dinner. I spent a few hours just talking with my parents, about the trip, before heading to my room. I can't remember the last time I had time to myself like this.

I want to take this moment to thank the ILC for all that they have done for me. I'd like to thank Ms. Lilhanand for all of her support before and during this trip. She was a fantastic chaperone, and always a pleasure to travel with. I'd like to thank Don Gosney, Madeline Kronenberg and Charles Ramsey for making this program possible. They've put in a tremendous amount of effort to keep it going,and I really appreciate it. I also want to thank the sponsors. Without having ever met us, these people made the determination to be our benefactors. It's that kind of selflessness that shows the true good in people. Lastly, I'd like to thank the parents, as well as my fellow classmates. I'm so glad I got to share this experience with you guys. It's really meant the world to me, and I'll remember this trip for the rest of my life.

Goodbye, New York. Welcome home.

Welcome Home Lucki

Man, I am exhausted. I have done more in the past few weeks than I usually do all summer. It's not just cumulative exhaustion, though, I happen to be very tired at this moment due to lack of sleep. Due to the fact that Friday was our last night in the city, and that Saturday the last day with many of the friends we've made recently, I tried to cram as much as I possibly could into the few hours I had left. When I say cram in a lot into very little time, I mean that I stayed out almost until 12 in the city Friday night and stayed up until 3 with my friends, simply because it was our last night together.

That's not all, though; after blogging and going to sleep at 5, I slept only one hour and woke up at 5:45 AM to go out to the gazebo and meet some of the friends that I've made the past three weeks. We were all delirious with lack of sleep, talking running around playing soccer at 6:30 AM, but the reasoning behind getting up at this ungodly hour is perfectly sound, in my opinion. From 6 AM, we have about 3-6 hours (people's planes left at different times) left to spend on Columbia's campus, and, this being the last time (for a while) that you will see many of these people, why would you spend those hours sleeping? Ideas about getting up early don't sound as nice in the morning, though. My roommate was actually the one who annoyed me enough into getting up; my initial reaction was to pull the covers over my head and tell him to gout by himself, but he annoyed me enough into being too awake to go back to sleep, and by then, the idea sounded much nicer. So there were about 8-10 of us, some heading to Spain, some to Utah, and some just across the Hudson River, and we all stumbled out under the gray morning sky into the quad and just sat talking, laughing, and running around. The experience had a sad truth behind it, the fact that we would be seeing each other again for a very long time, but we were all happy and soaking up as much fun as we could get out of our final hours together. I would spend the rest of the day with about as much energy as a sloth, (according to Jose, one of the kids out there with me, a sloth spends 22 hours of the day sleeping, 1 hour eating, and 1 hour looking for a place to sleep) but getting up at 6 AM was well worth it.

At about 7:45 AM, I left these friends and went back up to my room to pack. I had not started, of course. I began organizing everything I had in the room, and once everything was organized and on my bed, I began the tedious and complicated process of stuffing double-the-size-of-my-suitcase worth of stuff into my suitcase. At about 9:45, I was done. I went down the hallway, upstairs, and all around saying my goodbyes, which were very tough. Finally, I said goodbye to my room/suite mates, who turned out to be some of the coolest people I have ever met, and who I'm sure I will stay very close with even as the years pass and the long distance keeps us apart.
Later, after meeting with the cohort and leaving our bags at the hotel, we went to Central Park for a nice walk and brunch by one of Central Park's many beautiful lakes. Central Park, as usual, was gorgeous, and the spot at which we chose to sit down and have brunch was simply amazing. The restaurant jutted out onto the lake, and sitting down to have brunch there was a very scenic way to end our trip. After brunch, we slowly walked back to the hotel. We stopped once at a fountain, where I would fall asleep sitting down with my elbows on my knees and my face in my hands, and once in a shady area near Strawberry Fields, where I fell asleep on the park bench as we rested. Apparently I looked funny enough that the guy selling water nearby took a picture of me as I slept. I was out cold; I had turned into a sloth for the day and no longer had much energy for anything.

After returning to the hotel for a little while, we all got into the van that would take us to the airport. I slept (again) on the ride to the airport, although this time I can say that the six of us all slept. The rest was kind of a blur, not because airport life moves so quickly (on the contrary) but because I was so tired and because airport activities can kind of put make your mind shut down. We boarded the flight, and after takeoff, I decided that I would go to sleep as soon as I was allowed to get my sweatshirt out of the overhead bin (maybe 10 minutes into the flight). Instead, I was unable to make it even 10 minutes without falling asleep, and I woke up about 20 minutes later with drool on my shirt. If I am not careful about how I sleep, I always end up drooling on myself. Always. Of course, on planes, I am careful to make sure I don't do this, but this time I hadn't expected to fall asleep.

After putting on my sweatshirt, I fell asleep again, only to be woken by Adrianne telling me that drinks were coming around. Basically, I drank my water and ate my chips for a few minutes and then went back to sleep. I woke up once for some strange reason, but aside from that, I slept undisturbed for a good 4 and a half to 5 hours. It was an exhausted sleep, and I did not dream. When I woke up, we were about 20 minutes outside of San Francisco.

My mom was jumping and down, my sister waving a poster she had made, and everyone showing a general sense of excitement, but the feeling that washed over me at that point was relief. It's not that I needed to be saved from anything; these have been some of the the greatest three weeks of my life, but I really really missed my family and my home here in the Bay Area. I know that I love New York City, and I love Washington DC, and I love the East Coast in general, but the Bay Area is my home, and always will be. Even if it greets me with some 60-degree summer weather and a blanket of fog.

Anyway, I hugged my family, smiled and laughed with everyone, and after taking some photos, said my goodbyes to everyone. I talked with my family the entire ride home, and we went out to dinner, and now here I am, sitting in my room tucked into my nice warm bed. The windows are not open. I am wearing sweatpants, not shorts, and I am tucked under multiple blankets, not just a white sheet. Yet, even as I'm now adjusting back to the arctic summers of the Bay Area, I feel at home, and for that I am happy. My family is only a few feet away, and I feel relieved.

And I guess that sort of concludes my Ivy League Connection studying and traveling experience. I don't feel I am done, as I will remain involved over the next few months trying to share what I've learned with others, and in a few years hopefully, trying to cheer my sister on as she pursues her dreams studying somewhere her in the East Coast. It was a truly amazing experience. I'm searching for the right words to describe this, but so much has gone on in my life the past four weeks, that no one set of words could sum up what we've done and how it has affected us. I'd like to first thank my family, who supported me, talked to me and cheered me on through this entire process. Even 3,000 miles away, I never felt far from their love. I would also like to thank Aurea, Morvarid, Adrianne, Tomi, Lenny and Mrs. L, who were the main reason these three weeks were so much fun! I often forgot I was here to study or to tour colleges or learn, with some of the laughs we shared on train, the subway, while at dinner. You guys all made this awesome. Most of all, though, I'd like to thank the donors and all those who help to run the Ivy League Connection. As cliched as it may sound, this literally would have been only a dream and would never have happened without you. The money and the time invested in us has provided a supporting hand to me, to all my fellow students, and to our community. To reach out your hand to us comes with no self-interest; it is solely for the purpose of changing the lives of others, and as one of those lucky enough to benefit, I say thank you.

Well, I guess that's it. My Dad already walked into my room and found me asleep with this laptop in my hands, but I guess I've made it to the end awake. I am looking back, and while the journey was amazing, I believe it ended appropriately. I am happy.

It's Only Just the Beginning; This Isn't a Goodbye, It Is a New Greeting.

Well, what can I say, time flies. Just yesterday I was leaving the San Francisco airport, awaiting the spectacular Columbia University. Today, I walked backwards from the same gate I went through last month on our way to New York, and we were greeted with family, flowers, signs, and lots of proud, loving support. It was like we were going back in time and taking steps backwards from where we stood just a month ago. That feeling of success, however, was not as blossomed as it was today. That was a new feeling. Walking down the escalator to a group of smiling faces, each congratulating you with enthusiasm and passion, each proud of you for all of your accomplishments; that was a new feeling. It was a feeling I would have never experienced today if it wasn't for the generous and amazing  sponsors that made this happen. I cannot stress this enough, thank you so so much.

This trip has meant so much to me, it would be impossible for me to explain with words the extent of it's importance. The experiences, the people, the school, the world, it was all something I would have never been introduced to without you. Today, the first thing I did was walk up to Mr.Ramsey, hug him, and thank him dearly for this opportunity. However, since the sponsors were not there today, I am hoping at least one of you reads this blog post right now because I would really like to spread the message of appreciation. I can assure you that although I am back from the experience at home, I am still not done. This is not a "goodbye" for me, but rather a "hello" to a whole new thing. With the experiences that I have acquired, I will be using them to help other students in my community. This starts now, and I will soon update the Ivy League Connection with the initiatives I will take in both my school and my community. It is now time that the Ivy League Connection students emerge as leaders and make a change.

This morning, I felt like it was just another day and that it would be impossible for me to leave the new school I have fallen this much in love with. I felt like it would be unlikely that I leave behind all the new, amazing, and diverse students I have met. Although I wished this was true at least, the time had come and it was finally the day to depart. But, we did not just leave. Of course, we needed a nice way to end of one of the most memorable times of our lives. Thus, Mrs.L decided we all eat brunch at the boathouse in central park. What can I say, it was beautiful. The delicious food, the company of my amazing cohort, the green trees, the glistening lake, and the boats that gently touched upon the smooth waters behind us all painted an image in my head that I will never forget.

After our lovely brunch, we all walked back slowly trying to enjoy each other's company for the longest time possible in Manhattan. On our way, I noticed a gentleman who could tell a lot about a person's identity and personality with simply their handwriting. He was an amazingly talented individual whom in fact worked with a lot of large business corporations like NBC, for example (who paid him more than $1000 just last week). He charged $35 dollars for analyzing the customer handwriting right there on the spot, but for me he only charged $10.

I was really interested because I had read a lot of books about that when I was younger. Not only books about that, but also about numerology. Overall, I'm a really curious person you can say, so I often look into a lot of different things. Adrianne thought I was weird because according to her, "I get fascinated too much by many things." I guess that may be true, but it's just the world around me that fascinates me as a whole. Either way, nothing stopped me from trying out something new today and allowing the gentleman to analyze my handwriting and tell me what he knows about who I am as a person. Everyone left us, but my friend Aurea stayed behind with me and ultimately decided to try it out as well.

He handed me a notebook filled with hand-writings of previous customers. He flipped through them shortly, telling me, "This is years of practice and experience." He instructed me to sit down and just write whatever I pleased. It wasn't really what I wrote, it was the way I wrote it that was important to him. Thus, I wrote a few lines in cursive and a few in print and handed the notebook to Aurea for her to write her message as well. After she was done, he pulled us aside to privately speak to us. He began with me. Let me just start out by saying how every single thing he said, including the most minuscule detail was absolutely accurate.

I wish I recorded him at least, he just talked to me about my personality for a very long time and I don't remember every single thing he said so I could share with you all. He started out by saying that I am a very special and complex individual. He said that I have a perfect balance between my mind and my heart and that is a very very rare. Only 5% of individuals in this world possess that certain personality that allows them to not just think with their head or think only with emotions, but have an absolutely perfect balance between the two. He told me about how diplomatic I am, how I am so creative with such a vision that others may not have. He said how I am not materialistic and that if I find someone I love, that's all that matters to me and that's all it takes to make me happy. For some reason he spent a lot of time talking about that and a male figure in my life, which was kind of weird to be honest but still interesting. He told me how I am very powerful but behind a certain shield I hold, I can be very vulnerable and I need someone to protect me. He told me about how loving and caring I am and how I have so much energy that whenever I walk into a room, I bring that energy with me and lift up people's moods. He told me how I would be a perfect surgeon and do very well in science, which I was particularly excited to hear because being a surgeon is my dream and science is my passion. Speaking of passion, he also told me how much of a passionate person I am. He told me about how easily I open up to people and how outgoing I am. He spoke to Aurea and I about how much we should value our friendship and how we should never let something in between us because we both have characteristics that would complete each other, being a perfect team. Surprisingly, he didn't see much bad characteristics in me while doing his analysis, the most major flaw I had was my vulnerability I guess. He just constantly repeated, "You have a beautiful personality."  I know I'm stating everything he said very generally, but he went into a lot more detail about everything and said a lot more than what I just mention; I'm just summarizing as a whole. Overall, if you don't take my word, take Aurea's. 99.99% of everything he said about both of us was right on point and absolutely true. It was truly amazing.
My mom and older sister.

We walked away this evening mind boggled and amazed, but weren't we already due to all the new experiences we had encountered this past month? I can't believe it's already over, I'm going to miss everyone so much. Mrs.L is basically like family to me now, and I really can't wait until the next time I can see her again. Nonetheless, my cohort all have a special place in my heart, they too are like family. I lived with them all for an entire month and I can truly say that they have been the ones that made this experience even more special. We will all definitely meet up soon for a reunion!
The amazing friends I made at Columbia University, I will never forget them and I have promised to always keep in touch with them. The Ivy League Connection and the sponsors who made this possible, my endless appreciation will never die off. Last but not least, Columbia University. Where I now call home, I will come back for you. For now, I only dream to stay longer. Whether or not that dream comes true is now up to the admission officers.

I have now returned to El Sobrante, California, and I have been welcomed back with a surprise. My parents have remodeled my room for me and bought me a whole new bed with accessories! At home, my family was waiting for me to give me a warm welcome back home and my mom had prepared a nice dinner for us all. She knew how much I had missed a home cooked meal, and I was so delighted to be around my loving family once again. I hadn't had my mom's amazing Persian food for weeks, so I can honestly say I was excited to eat dinner at home.

Overall, today was a very touching day surrounded by loved ones and close friends. Although our trip is over, the experiences will all last a life time, the memories will stay young forever, and the message will be sent across our community endlessly. Giving back is the most important aspect of this trip; it is only just the beginning.
My little cousin bought two birds before I left, now that I'm back, they have left two eggs.
Could this possibly mean something?

Tackled at the Airport

It’s unimaginable to know that I’m back in the Bay Area. Back to my family. Back to my friends. Back to my house. Back to my mother’s cooking. Back to my little sisters’ banter. Back to my room. Back to my bed. And most of all, back home.

As I awoke at 7:30 AM to obtain my laundry from last night, the impact of my departure started within my gut. Folding my clothes, I was allowed some thinking time to reflect upon my time in New York. Never before did I expect this experience to change my mind about my future. I’ve been immersed by many different people, from those I can tolerate to those I can develop strong relations with.

So after my last shower in the Columbia dorm, on the eleventh floor of the Carman building, I was interrupted through my changing and packing by a knock at my door. To my pleasant surprise, it was Brittany, the Texan girl I befriended at the program. She informed me that she was leaving for the day to be with her mother who flew in the night prior, so I said my good-byes in my room. I granted- yes, granted, because I don’t hug people often outside of my family- her a very affectionate hug. That good-bye was probably our last, unless I decide to go to Texas one day. Hopefully we’ll all keep in touch with her and teach her a few more things about California slang.

A last minute look to my ex-dorm and a talk with my residential advisor Jennifer, and I was heading down to meet the rest of my cohorts at the university entrance near Amsterdam. There I saw Morvarid, Tomi, Adrianne, and Rowland, the SoCal boy we befriended at the program. We all waited patiently for the others to arrive, first Ms. L then Lenny and Lucas. Following a few last minute pictures at the gazebo, of the cohort and Rowland of course, we said our good-byes. If Rowland were to ever come to the Bay Area, or we were to go to the Los Angeles area, we all promised to contact each other. As where Brittany lives in Texas, Rowland is only a few hours away from us; therefore seeing Rowland is more doable.

We grabbed a cab to the Beacon Hotel, where our adventures began. While sitting in the lobby I was reminded of our daily meetings in the same room to congregate for all the fancy dinners during the first week. It’s amazing to know that was only a few weeks ago.

After waiting for a few minutes for everyone to come back down, we then headed down to Central Park to have brunch. The walk there was quiet, whether it be from fatigue or deep thoughts, only each person will know. Well at least for me it was more thinking, taking in my surroundings and knowing that I won’t see this part of the country for a while. We then entered Central Park to have brunch at the Boathouse. The view from our table was beautiful- well at least mine since I sat directly facing the lake.

As brunch ended, we killed some time by relaxing at the park. While everyone else was enjoying the sights, Morvarid and I had a vender analyze our handwriting to evaluate our personalities. At first I thought he would just generalize our personalities but what surprised me was the way he was able to interpret us accurately. He was able to reveal aspects about myself that I did not expose during our talk. So after a probing talk, we relaxed even further on a few park benches.

And then we departed for the airport. After my good-bye to New York, I boarded the plane to welcome the Bay Area with open arms. The plane ride was faster than the first time, which is very peculiar since the first ride was shorter. During the first few hours, we all knocked out once the plane was in the air.

A few hours later and I was jumping with excitement in my seat. After twenty-six days in New York City, I’ve finally arrived at SFO. Coming home and getting the kind of welcome home greeting was the highlight of my day. Prior to my arrival, my best friend Lynda informed me that she couldn’t meet and greet me at the airport. When I heard the news, I wasn’t that bothered because she explained it was a family issue. But to my pleasant surprise she was there to greet me – well more like tackled and hugged me to the ground. There we were, two Asian girls on the floor, one laughing and one tearing up. You can probably tell which one I was. That surprise and the greetings I received from my family members made it all the better. Not only did I receive greetings from my family- yes I count my best friend as family- but from parents of the ILC cohorts. So after our good-byes and hugs to each other- Adrianne was excited that I finally hugged her- we all went our separate ways. But this is not good-bye for any of us; some time, whether it be sooner or later we will reunite. I will be eternally grateful to the people who made this trip possible; Mr. Ramsey, Don Gosney, Ms. Kronenberg, Ms. L and of course the sponsors. This experience was once in a life time; now I can check the ILC off my bucket list!

Thank You, Everyone

I felt as though my goodbyes today were somewhat lacking; I realize that I'm not the best at speaking, which may have made my words sound half-hearted or insincere. Therefore, I have decided to make a separate blog to express my gratitude. 

Adrianne: Thank you for being yourself. Your personality is certainly one of a kind and I'm sure that this trip wouldn't have been half as fun without you. It was an honor to be your PA and your friend. Grazie!

Lucas: Thank you for being the sincere, level-headed person that you are. Without you, I'm not sure how this group could have gone more than 5 minutes without bickering. It was also a pleasure to be bale to sit next to you in class! 

Lenny: Thank you for making me laugh so many times. Your humor is one of your best traits, and it was certainly one of the mainly things that made this trip so enjoyable. Also, please thank your mom for the lei necklaces--they were really beautiful!

Aurea: Thank you for being so outspoken and honest--it made talking with you is always fun, especially today's plane ride. Good luck being an aeronautical engineer! 

Morvarid: Thank you for being so cheery and sweet. I think that you're a really amazing person, and I hope that you'll be able to become I surgeon like you dreamed!

Mrs. L: Thank you for taking care of us and being so patient, even when we weren't exactly the most well-behaved kids in the world. Your contribution to Ivy League Connection Program is greatly appreciated!

I would also like to thank all of the friends that I made, my classmates, and of course, my professors, Luke and Jeffery. You guys are what made my school experience so spectacular.  

And I would especially like to thank the Ivy League Connection and its generous sponsors for making this entire trip possible. Thanks to them, I was able to meet so many fantastic people and learn many, many things both about Constitutional Law and about myself. 

Thanks to this trip and these people, I feel as though that I was able to learn and grow a lot. And for that, I'm truly grateful. Once again, thank you.