Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Epilogue to this Dreambook

I sat alone in the front, rolling my thumbs over and over again. A drop of sweat passed my brow. The numbers were closing in. I was the last one who would be tested. Tick-tock goes the clock. Time is ticking, and the moment draws nearer and nearer. The hand of fate beckons me into the interview room. I wipe my sweaty hands on my slacks, so that my handshakes won’t just slip away with the panelists. Two were to my right; two were to my left. I sat down, trying to shake off my fear of failure. Pens were clicked, notepads were open, and the questioning began. Next thing I heard: my name being called out as one of the lucky individuals who would be going to Brown University this summer.

The first chapter of my ILC journey
From the moment I was selected as a cohort for the Ivy League Connection, I knew that I was going to be meeting some surprises down the road and undergoing some type of transformation. I really thought I knew what I was in for. Truth is: I wasn’t. I had underestimated how academically challenging the course was going to be, how much sleep I would be getting, or how much I would be learning from the college tours. I left California, thinking that I was entirely prepared for the rigorous four weeks that I would be facing in the east coast. And now, with four weeks having passed, I look back and realize how foolish I was to think that way.

After a whole month away from home and being in new surroundings, I’ve learned to adapt pretty well. Aside from doing my own laundry and learning how to read a map correctly, I’ve also been able to socialize better and be less afraid to take on harder challenges. I’m now more willing to come out of my comfort zone and do things that I normally wouldn’t try to. Exploring a new environment isn’t so scary anymore, and talking to more important people seems less intimidating. In shorter terms, I’ve learned to welcome change. I’m no longer the person that’s just going to cower aside and try to fit in. I’m now the person who’s going to do more impressive things and try to stand out. Instead of feeling lucky that I don’t have to talk to unfamiliar people, I am now more foregoing in meeting new friends. Failure no longer seems like the end of the world to me. Rather, they are just another obstacle that I have to accept defeat to, and overcome. Mistakes no longer feel like something to be ashamed of, but rather something that I should learn from in preparation for the future.

These guys made my so class so much more bearable
With four weeks of time to be exposed to the outside world, one finds it hard not to pick up a bit of knowledge along the way. Through my “Introduction to Macroeconomics” course, I’ve learned a lot about how the world works and the role of money within our daily lives. Now, you might say “Well obviously. That’s the whole point of taking the class.” That’s true, but through those lessons, I’ve begun to incorporate the information I gained from lectures and homework and relating them to real life applications. Normally, math is just numbers and calculations, and history is just another 55 minutes of class to kill. But now, I understand that math is a key factor in life; from seeing if you have enough money to buy a can of ice tea to making sure you’re not overspending your income. History isn’t just 55 minutes of nonsense anymore, but rather a more approachable way to learn about your culture, background, and views in life. And then there’s the blogging. How can we not improve in our literacy skills when we’re practically writing a reflective essay every single day? Through blogging, I’ve been able to find time to explore diction and improve in being more attentive in my writing. I’m now more fluent when it comes to looking back in the day, being able to jot it down in writing, and summarizing the events as a whole.

Every single day that I spent in the east coast will always be a treasured moment. However, there were certain events within my ILC journey that were more significant than the rest. One of them had to be my interview, first of all. The interview was, in a sense, the first time where my opinions towards a subject were actually judged. It was a really uncomfortable condition to be in but I found it to be really thrilling where my opinions really felt like they were heard and meant something. By the end of it all, I felt really accomplished and relieved. I left the interview room, not entirely satisfied with my answers, but enough to be proud of myself for making it this far through the selection process. And I was right to feel confident, because my answers were satisfactory and that I did make it all the way through the process. True enough, that confidence followed me all the way through my four weeks in the east coast. Even now, whenever I use that thought, I feel more capable to try harder things because nothing feels impossible anymore. Life is always full of surprises, so why shouldn’t I try to discover all of them? The interview really boosted that factor in me.

Another important series of ILC events would be the college tours during week one of my Ivy League experience. I’m now more experienced in asking questions when visiting a college, and more sure of what I’m looking for in a college. Even more, I now notice that there are so many more opportunities that lie away from the outskirts of the Bay Area. The east coast offers so many academic selections that are just as competitive as colleges in California. In addition, I feel more qualified to apply to these prestigious colleges. Yale and MIT used to feel so far away, like they’re just colleges standing there to mock my intelligence. After the tours, attending these colleges feel more possible in terms of funding and making it through the acceptance process. I can’t deny the fact that some will be more challenging than the rest, but now, I’m less afraid to try my luck.

Dinner at San Francisco Boulevard
The last, significant checkpoint was the final dinner at the Boston Mistral. It didn’t really have an actual impact on me like the previous two events, but it made me realize a lot of things. At the end of one’s journey, you can easily feel change but not notice what it is. I attended the Boston dinner with the thought that it was, once again, another important event to blog about. It was towards the end of the dinner when I realized that I wasn’t feeling nervous…nor intimidated… nor shy. I was eating freely and speaking without hesitation. I moved around tables, talking to the college students and alumni as if they were friends. Unlike the Boulevard dinner in San Francisco, I didn’t “regrettably retreat to a corner”. I introduced myself with confidence and sat down to talk with the important group of people that I was dining with. It was then, that I really understood how much I changed and how much of an impact the ILC made for me.

Visiting the Mayflower II on July 4th
Years from now, I can honestly say that I will remember this whole experience from head to toe. I’ll never forget having to go down two flights of stairs to do my laundry, soaking up the leftover heat in my dorm room, walking ten minutes to get to class, eating ice cream after every meal, and walking around Providence without any worry whatsoever. Nor will I forget the trips to Newport and Boston, eating Korean BBQ on the Grad Building terrace, or having to run back to my dorm to make the 11:30 curfew on weekdays. It was the perfect way to spend my summer. And given the chance, I would go back and do it all over again. There was one day, however, where I was most content. I even remember the date: July 4, 2012. I’ll never forget going to Plymouth for the hands-on history lesson, heading to the movies to watch “The Amazing Spiderman”, and rushing to Indian Point Park after to watch the fantastic fireworks display. I did the most that day, and I cherished every single moment of it.

I honestly feel like my school is doing a great job so far in preparing us for the Ivy League Connection. Many teachers and students are well aware of the program and the ILC is accounted for at every annual PVHS College Fair event. Once we are selected to be interviewed for the ILC selection process, a mock interview is always organized for us between the staff members. However, I must say that we could try to spread the word out a bit more. Unlike Middle College High School, my school doesn’t introduce the ILC during their students’ freshmen orientation. I mostly found out about the program from past cohorts that were in the ILC from the previous years. I believe that Pinole Valley should find a way to present the program to its student body ahead of time. That way, students will have something to look forward to. In addition, they will find a reason to do well in their academics and strive for this opportunity.

Our district is also doing a great job so far with this program. The proper funding and connections are what’s keeping the Ivy League Connection going. It’s safe to say that this program is one of a kind. What we’re doing here is truly genuine. There are so many other school districts out there that are not even willing to try and imitate this program. The products of the Ivy League Connection are beyond the average capabilities. We are putting our names out there and increasing the reputation of the WCCUSD. We have the most elite group of students that our district has to offer, who are representing our community from all the way in the east coast. However, within an improving society, we need to do more. We need to have more funding and more connections. We need to send more of our brightest students to prestigious schools in the east coast. We need to have more programs within these schools and a larger variety of selections that students can choose from. Brown alone has so many courses to choose from for its summer program, from robotics and architecture to filming and movie production. We can always stay where we are now with this program and still be satisfied. But if improvement is what we’re looking for, then this is what we must strive towards.

Another thing I learned by being in the ILC: How to smile better
With all of that being said, I’d like to thank those who made my ILC experience so memorable. First of all, I’d like to thank Brown University for welcoming me onto its campus and educating me so much in both Macroeconomics and the different cultures of the people who I've met. Second, to all my amazing cohorts in Brown Session I who I’ve grown so attached to and now call friends. Third, to my chaperones Ms. Kaplan (whose sense of humor and guidance made my ILC experience so much more active and fun) and Mr. Crosby (who made sure that we got to every college tour safe and sound). Fourth, to all the sponsors who saw the worth in the program and funded for it till this very day. And last but not least, I’d like to thank Mr. Ramsey, Ms. Kronenberg, Don Gosney, and all others who made this experience possible. Looking back, my four weeks in the east coast almost feel as if it was a dream. It has been the most surreal experience and I do not feel a single bit of doubt that it was the best thing that has happened to me. And now, I’d like to conclude my story. These are my final words on the 2012 Brown blog site. This is the epilogue to my ILC journey.

Brown University, you will always have a special place in my heart.

1 comment:

  1. David,

    Excellent conclusion to your journey to the east coast! I was proud of you since the beginning. And I know it might sound a little weird coming from me as only a year older than you, but it is fascinating to see how you grow.

    Like you, my ILC experience at Brown was a HUGE confidence booster. I came back home with a broader mind, a thirst for adventure, and a drive to be the best that I could be. I know that you will channel all your new found energy and enthusiasm to do great things come your senior year. No fear, David.

    And yes, you are right. More students need to know that they are qualified to go to some great schools out of what is in reach. The ILC let us know that we had potential, which is something we unfortunately do not hear a whole lot. Public school Bay Area students are just as brilliant as those that go to private prestigious high schools. Students here need to know that they are not alone.

    David, I know that in time you will find yourself re-reading your blogs from summer 2012 at Brown. I totally went back to read mine after you started your adventure. These are some great times that will stick with you forever. So many things that you learned on this trip (in and out of the classroom) will apply to life in direct and indirect ways. Remember, it is important to SHARE your enthusiasm and experiences to others. Inspire them as you have inspired me.

    Welcome home, and best of wishes to you always.