Wednesday, April 29, 2015

In Good Company and Cuisine

These last few weeks, my email account had been bombarded with details regarding the Brown University cohort's dinner. Don, through his rigorous and elegant planning, had been keeping us in check regarding the dinner, emphasizing that this particular event would be a special one. I had been very excited, albeit somewhat nervous, about our dinner. Indeed, tonight would be a very special evening. 

As soon as I dropped my backpack and books from a full day at school, I quickly got ready for our scheduled plans. I made sure to double check the maps and directions, and was on my way to the El Cerrito Plaza BART Station where we had been directed to meet.

All our members had gathered early, dressed formally, and ready to go. Still in El Cerrito, Don gave us a thorough run-through of the plan, giving us each our Clipper cards. After a quick check-in, where we introduced ourselves one-by-one, we were on our way to San Francisco.

The ride there was a very pleasant one, as I was able to get to know better and converse with our chaperone, Tiffani, as well as the other girls going to Rhode Island with me this summer.

It was a particularly windy day in the Bay Area this evening, and after some chit-chat with the other Brownies, our subway had finally arrived to take us to Market Street.We walked about a block and found ourselves at our designated restaurant, One Market.

Elizabeth Gonzalez, Gabrielle Meacham, Mary Morris and me
As soon as I stepped in, I noted the gorgeous lighting, the decorative setting, the bustling atmosphere, and the soft aroma of something utterly delicious. We were promptly escorted to our own private room, and finally had the formal chance to get to know the Brown University graduates and the generous sponsors for our trip. Something very significant to note was that these individuals all had their own stories and their own intriguing backgrounds and their own unique fields of work and their own experiences and much more. It was such a valuable opportunity to hear from a variety of perspectives. From the reception, I was able to get a lot of information regarding what I could expect from this trip to Brown University, including the student diversity, the campus, the activities offered, and more.

Once seated, I got to further know the rest of my tablemates. Elizabeth Gonzales, a Brown alum who studied psychology. Donna Chung, another Brown alumni, who works as in the education department as a fourth grade teacher, also a math enthusiast. Mary Morris, a generous sponsor who worked in an architecture firm, a graduate from Cal University. Last but most certainly not least, Tiffani Neal, another teacher, one who worked with 7th and 8th grade students, and our chaperone. Our table was filled with interesting, engaging conversation throughout the whole meal. It was a great pleasure to be able to interact with such fascinating women.

Now to dedicate an entire paragraph to the luxurious cuisine:
For hors d'oeuvres, we were offered sliders, chicken wings, and risotto bites. This was followed by a delicious salad which included lettuce topped with a delicious cheese and crunchy croutons. Then came the main course. I order the Slow Raised Beef Short Rib, which was an excellent choice I definitely did not regret. Finally came my favorite part of the meal: a sorbet dessert with a thin, flower-shaped cookie, stippled with cut-up fruits.

All in all, the entire evening was an extravagant one I will remember for many years to come as my first Ivy League Connection dinner. If this particular event is a showcase of what's waiting for me in Rhode Island, I know this summer I will be having the time of my life in good company and cuisine.

Last Night's Sumptuous Dinner

When I arrived from school, I immediately ran to my room to get ready. I made the mistake of not preparing my outfit a day before. I was anxious because I sensed that something was going to go wrong. It all began with my dad going to the wrong BART station. Fortunately, I still arrived on time. 

At the BART station, my dad and I met my chaperone Ms. Neal. We introduced ourselves and conversed about how thrilling my experience at Brown University is going to be. As we discussed, more ILCers arrived.

The ride on BART was quite crowded. I sat with Ms. Neal, Esme, and Esme's mom. We spoke about scholarships and universities. I mentioned that for the first time, I won't have to look at pictures from Google. This time I'll be able to feel the air of Providence, Rhode Island.

Once we arrived at One Market restaurant in San Francisco, I was stunned by the towering buildings, the dazzling lights, and the exquisite restaurant where a few moments later, I would be dining with not only alums of Brown but sponsors of the ILC as well. I thought to myself, "This is goals." I said that because I realized that- that's how I want to live in the future. I don't want to struggle. I want to be able to take my parents out to eat to a restaurant as sumptuous as One Market restaurant. Not to mention that I don't go to San Francisco much and especially not to restaurants like these.

As the mingling commenced, I got the chance to converse with Simon Hong. He elaborated on how Brown is diverse and how he was certain that I was going to absolutely love it. At the same time, I enjoyed the flavorful boneless chicken wings and the mini cheese burgers. By the time the main plate was served, I was already full!

I also spoke to Jonathan Speed and Margaret Tormey. They described their experience at Brown and how they both met at Brown as well. It was interesting to hear them talk about their thirty-five year old friendship established at Brown of course. I was caught off guard when I had to stand up and introduce myself however. It went well though.

Overall, I had a marvelous night. I can't wait to experience Brown and all it has to offer. I'm really looking forward to my trip this summer.

Fancy Feet Moving Fowards, Into Fancy Futures

"They're here!" my mom calls from the other end of the house. I glance at my hair still dripping wet from a shower and hope that it will dry quickly. Running, I grab my purse and head through the door, into the sunlight. The belongings I deem necessary for the event are in my bag: a camera, notebook, pen and wallet. I scamper down the concrete stairs and wave to Erin Cain and her mother Tracy, who warmly greet my mother and I as we slide into the seats of their car. As we glide down the hill toward the El Cerrito Plaza BART station, I can't help but feel the buzz of nerves and excitement.

We are chattering that, perhaps, we just might be first to arrive when we spot almost the entire cohort already gathered under the BART tracks. We nod our hellos as we receive our temporary clipper card from Don, who addresses the group. In a booming voice, he begins introductions and informs us on what to expect from the dinner.

We ride the escalator up to the platform, and converse until we hear the rush of the train approaching.

I find out that our teacher chaperon Tiffani Neal has a long history with the Ivy League Connection Program. I listen to her explain her role in the program and meanwhile, come to a better understanding of the course, and the program itself.

We arrive in San Francisco. The smile on my face widens as I study the tall buildings and fast paced street.

It's only a brisk walk until we hit One Market Restaurant. I am immediately awestruck at the class--giant curtains, clear glasses, white tablecloths, and more. My original nervousness shifts to hope that I can get through the dinner gracefully, without breaking or spilling anything. I grow calmer as various alumni and sponsors begin arriving; their presence is distracting and calming.  

I shake hands with an array of alumni and sponsors. The alumni radiate with appreciation for their time at Brown. I'm only able to have a conversation with one of the sponsors, Mary Morris. Her own college-going experiences are a large factor in her support for the ILC. The first in her family to graduate from college, she understands it's importance. 

We are asked to find our seats, and Madeline Kronenberg kicks off the speeches. I listen to Mahi Taban speak from the heart, Jonathon Speed showcase his appreciation for Brown, and Alice Pineiro wish us well. It feels good to know that so many people have such warm regard for Brown and for the ILC.

Dinner is lovely. The conversation flows smoothly between Komal, her mother, myself, my mother, alum Paul Sednaoui, and alum Andrea Llenos. As the dinner progresses, I become aware that studying something in college does not put one in a box. For example Paul Sednaoui, class of 2005, majored in international relations, but now owns his own company that helps businesses with computer related problems. Information and food keep coming. Yet, as my stomach fills up, my brain stays open.

The event flashes by quickly. We take a group picture and say our goodbyes. I take mental notes of things I need to remember for the summer and college applications as I walk out of the restaurant and into the cool night air.          

An Aspiring Dinner at One Market

Once again I woke up feeling paranoid about getting late to the dinner and excited about meeting my cohort members, alumni, and sponsors. I anxiously waited for the school day to end and quickly headed home and got dressed for the dinner. My mom and I carpooled with Don to the El Cerrito Plaza BART Station, where some ILCers and their parents and Tiffani Neal, my cohort chaperone, were already waiting. Once everyone arrived, we entered the BART station. 

While waiting for the BART train to arrive, we introduced ourselves and began conversing with one another. I chatted with Madeline Kronenberg about th program I will be doing over the summer. 

Soon, the BART train to San Francisco arrived. In the BART train, I got to talk to other cohort members and their parents. Everyone was introducing themselves and expressing their excitement for the dinner and the summer. 

After walking a short distance from the BART station, we arrived at the elegant One Market. Two attendants escorted us to our assigned room. Everyone huddled into small groups and began mingling with each other. As the alumni arrived, they began joining the groups. 

Servers began serving drinks and appetizers. The appetizers included Boneless Chicken Wings, Mini Burgers, and Mushroom Risotto Bites. Since I am a vegetarian, I only tried the Mushroom Risotto Bites. They were extremely good!

While enjoying the snacks, I began talking to Erin, her mother, and Mahi. Soon Jonathan Speed, an alumnus, arrived and joined our group. He shared very interesting information about Brown and his experience at Brown. 

Soon the two sponsors: Mike Terry and Mary Morris arrived. I only got the opportunity to talk with Mike Terry. We had an interesting conversation about social media and how technology shapes our lives today. 

After the alumni and sponsors arrived, everyone sat down in their assigned seats in tables of six. 

Two alumni: Andrea Llenos and Paul Sednaoui joined me, my mother, Gabrielle, and her mother at a dinner table. Soon after we introduced ourselves, the reception began. 

Madeline Kronenberg began the reception by having everyone introduce themselves. The alums shared their most favorite thing about Brown. Mahi beautifully presented her ideas, aspirations, and gratefulness to the Ivy  League Connection. Jonathan Speed spoke about the growth and uniqueness of Brown. Alice Pineiro concluded the reception by sharing her personal experiences at Brown and making me feel even more excited about my trip to Brown. 

The serving of the dinner was initiated with dinner rolls and a Lark Creek Caesar Salad. After the refreshing salad, the main course was served. A Duo of Fresh Market Sorbets was served in the desert. I had kiwi and strawberry flavored sorbets with a thin cookie on the side. The desert looked beautiful and was delicious. 

In the dinner, Andrea Llenos and Paul Sednaoui shared their experiences at Brown. We had an interesting conversation about how things have changed for them after graduating from Brown. I become very inspired by their experiences and success.

The dinner quickly ended and we took group pictures. Then we all headed home with lots of memories of a great dinner. 

Dinner in The City

Anxiously I hurried my mom so we would not be late to the BART station. Happily we were the first ones to arrive there. There, I had the chance to meet all 6 of the girls who will be attending the Women and Leadership program at Brown and Komal who will be attending the DNA course and their parents.  On our way to San Francisco I sat with Wendy and Tiffani who I later found out she was going to be our chaperon for the trip. Tiffani talked to us about putting ourselves out there and how important it is to interact with new people. She got me way more excited for the trip and I am really grateful to have such a cool chaperon.
Alums, Sponsors, and the Brown Cohort
Once we arrived to the restaurant, One Market, we all had the chance to meet the sponsors and alums. They were all very generous and outgoing. Nothing like I expected. Simon Hong mentioned how great the school was and how diverse it is. He really made me want to go to college somewhere far away from home. He also mentioned how important it is to have fun over there while we were at it. While we were all having conversations we ate some delicious mini cheeseburgers and chicken wings.

After we all finished mingling, we sat down. While salads were being passed out, Mahi had a speech. I could not agree any more with what she had to say. She explained what she hopes she will learn at Brown and how thankful she was for everyone who was able to attend the dinner. After her speech, Jonathan Speed gave us a brief understanding of Brown; how many students and all the great things about the school. Don then stood up and asked us if we preferred to go to a college where the professor does not even know us or where we would have a strong bond with the professor and help from them. Right then and there I knew I had to really put in thought into what college I wanted to go to.
While we ate I was able to learn new things from Don and Lauren Brodsky who were sitting in the table I was assigned to. Lauren mentioned all the places around Brown and forms of transportation. Also, how great Brown is and all the freedom they give you. You can choose the classes you would like to take unlike other colleges that you have to take certain classes by force. You can also choose anything you want to major in. In some cases you can make your own major. Don made me really think about what college I should attend and how I should choose it. It is very important I don’t choose a college based on what my friends are choosing or because I want to stay close to home. I have to keep my options open to whatever will be best for me, the financial aid I will receive, and my education. I can honestly say I had a great time sitting with them, Erin and her mother.

Over all I had a great time meeting the students, families, staff, sponsors, and alums. I could not have spent my day any better than meeting such generous people and eating free food. I am really looking forward to everything.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Dinner at One Market

Today I woke up anxious but excited. I had my AP Calculus final at school which I was not looking forward to but I was excited my Brown dinner. My mom and I left the house at about five o'clock to ensure that we would make it to the El Cerrito Plaza BART station in time. We picked up a fellow member of the Brown cohort (Gabrielle) and her mom on the way down so we could carpool.

Usually I don't like riding on BART but tonight was fun because I felt like I got to know the rest of my Brown cohort better. I sat with a lot of different girls and my chaperone for the program. It was exciting to finally meet the whole group that was going on the trip with me. The only other time that I had met most of them was during the interview. We talked a lot about our different schools and what we were excited for the summer.

The BART ride to San Francisco
By the time we all got to the city we were really excited for the fancy dinner. The restaurant was nice and the food was delicious. I was especially ready for dinner because I had had a small lunch and was hungry. I loved all of the food but my favorite dish was probably the desert. For dessert we had delicious fresh sorbet.

Although the food was great, by far the best part was talking to the sponsors and Brown alums. I have never visited Brown so it was interesting to hear all about it. All of the Brown alums were so warm and friendly. Before dinner we spent a while all getting to know each other. I spent some time talking to Jonathan Speed about his experience at Brown. He had so much information to offer from what life is like at Brown to how many students go there and the percent of students that major in specific topics. 

After we had mingled we all sat down at our assigned seats and listened to the presentations. First we did introductions so that we could meet the people that we hadn’t had a chance to talk to yet. Thankfully Mahi had volunteered to speak at the dinner so I didn't have to be anxious about speaking and I could just enjoy myself. I really enjoyed listening to all of the presentations. Mahi did an amazing job reflecting all of our feelings about what we want to learn and how thankful and excited we all are to be in the program. Two alums, Alice Piñeiro and Jonathan also gave speeches. It was interesting to hear about how close knit of a community Brown is and about all the support that is offered there. It seemed like all of the alums really had amazing experiences and that the environment at Brown really encourages personal growth and learning. Jonathan also shared a few fun facts that made the dinner more interesting. Who knew that Brown has a Varsity Women's Rugby team?

The 2015 Brown Cohort and Brown alums
I sat at a table with Lauren Brodsky (who is a Brown alum), Esme my fellow cohort member, her mother, my mother, and Don. Lauren had also gone to El Cerrito High so it was beneficial to hear about her experience and what the transformation from El Cerrito High School to Brown was like. She also shared a lot of information about the college life in and around Providence. Don kept us entertained the whole time by sharing all of the ILC gossip.

I ended up having a great evening. Finally meeting all of my cohort members and my chaperone made the whole program feel more real and made me even more excited for my summer at Brown. I also really appreciated hearing from all of the sponsors about their experiences.

A Very Successful Night!

They say all you really need is good food and good company, in regards to this evening- I must say I agree. After a short car trip to the BART Station, my mother and I quickly found the rest of the cohort, Don, Ms. Kronenberg, and our chaperone Ms. Neal. Introductions took place and some of the details of the event were gone over. It was really nice to meet the rest of the cohort and get to know them better.

While waiting for the train, I spoke a little with Gabrielle, Erin, and Esme and we took a few pictures. The BART train wasn't too crowded, and my mother and I talked with Erin's mom for the duration of the trip. I was a bit nervous about speaking later but I didn't want that to stop me from enjoying the evening.

It was a short trek from the station to One Market in San Francisco, but I was already starting to regret my decision to wear heels. One Market was beautiful, and we quickly got escorted to our room. Alums and sponsors started arriving soon after, along with the hors d'oeuvres. I had a few of the boneless chicken wings and a mushroom risotto bite- both of which were absolutely delicious! Komal, Erin, and I got the chance to the speak with Jonathan Speed a Brown alum class of '84. Conversation was free flowing and very interesting, we talked about summer plans and school subjects we liked. We were also joined by Mike Terry- a sponsor, as we discussed Scandinavian food and Brown University.

After finding our seats I was pleased to find myself sitting next to Alice Pineiro a Brown alum- who had also been one of the people who interviewed me when I first applied to the program. Others at the table included my mother, Diana, her father, and Simon Hong another Brown alum class of '05. Ms. Kronenberg went over some of the logistics of the night, and before I knew it- it was time for my speech. It went by smoother than I thought it would- although at times I did not feel incredibly articulate. Mr. Speed then gave a very informing speech about Brown, which was followed by Ms. Pineiro's very heartfelt one.

The company was great, I enjoyed it very much. I received invaluable advice from Simon and Alice, and the conversations were great. I very much enjoyed talking to Diana, and hearing about her personal life story as I found it similar to my own. We talked about cricket, school, soccer, and a plethora of other topics. I found myself laughing and having a great time. The food- by the way was also incredible. I had ordered the beef short rib, which was just the right amount of tender, and the creek caeser salad was also delicious. Dessert included sorbets with flavors I did not quite recognize- but were delicious all the same.

After dinner, Simon introduced me to Donna Chung a Brown alum of '12 who is currently teaching at the same elementary school me and my siblings attended. After promising to visit, Don positioned all of the students and alumni for a photo and before we knew it- it was time to leave. We returned to the BART station and after a very packed ride home, during which I got to talk to Don and Ms. Kronenberg, we said our goodbyes. My father was waiting for us in the parking lot, and my poor, aching feet and I returned home after a very successful night.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Blogging about Blogging

This morning I woke up bright and early so that I would have ample time to prepare for my ten o’clock blogging tutorial with Don. As soon as I woke up I checked my email to make sure that I had all the necessary items for the tutorial. Then I mapped directions to the Pinole Library on my phone so that I would know the route.

At this point I still had an hour left before I needed to leave so I gave myself some time to relax and eat breakfast. At 9:15 I decided that it was time to leave so I grabbed my dad and rushed out the door. 
Luckily, we arrived early so I had time to double check that I was in the right place before Don arrived and the Library opened. As soon as they let us into the doors we found a nice place to sit and began learning right away.

First we went over some general blogging basics. Then we made some practice blogs. This was fun for me because I had not had any experience with blogging before and I enjoyed being able to think creatively. Don then gave us a lot of helpful tips on using cameras and taking photos. I learned a lot about the technical side of photography and a lot of helpful organization and editing tips. Don also showed us some cool pictures that he had taken which made the whole experience more interesting.

The most fun part was testing out these new picture-taking skills. We wandered around the library and went outside to see what we could find to take pictures of. The parking lot was not particularly photogenic but there were some nice trees that made our pictures more interesting.

After we had downloaded, edited, and practiced inserting the photos into our blogs we moved on to learning more information about the program. Don told us more about what is expected from us at the dinners and meetings and gave us a lot of information on loner items and trip preparations. We were able to learn more about how the entire process works which made me much less anxious about the rest of the program.

Overall the tutorial was extremely beneficial. I learned so much at the tutorial. I feel much more informed about and prepared for my summer experience. It was also a lot of fun to meet some of my fellow ILC members.