Monday, June 22, 2015

A Fascinating Afternoon at Salute's

My wonderful afternoon began as I joined Wendy waiting by the steps of Salute E Vita Ristorante. Ms. Neal soon arrived and we all started chatting, taking pictures, and obsessing over the vintage cars parked in the parking lot. 

As we enjoyed the beautiful scenery of Marina Bay and the chilly, refreshing air of the bayside, Gabi, Mahi, Cindy, Diana, and Ms. Maher arrived. Unfortunately, Erin and Esme couldn't join us because they were out of town. 

We took lots of pretty pictures before entering the restaurant. 
A team at Salute's.
Then we proceeded to our table and ordered fancy Italian soda drinks and began conversing about how our summer beak has been so far. 

One of the most interesting points of the afternoon was when Ms. Maher shared fascinating historical information about how women in California courageously worked outside of their homes in various industries to help the war effort during World War 2. The Rosie the Riveter Memorial in Richmond commemorates these brave women and their tremendous contributions. It highlights women who were part of the Kaiser Shipyard workforce of Richmond. It was incredible when Ms. Maher recognized Mary Torris, an inspiring personality who was part of the outstanding women's workforce during World War 2, in the restaurant. I was stunned when we got a chance to meet her! She was very kind and enthusiastic about sharing her experiences. 
A legendary moment.
Soon the drinks and appetizers were served. The strawberry Italian soda was very refreshing. The Bruschetta, toasted bread with mozzarella cheese topped with tomatoes and basil, was very tasty!
Having an awesome time!
After a while, the main course was served. My Pizza Con Funghi was extremely delicious! As everyone enjoyed their meals, we chatted about sites we wanted to visit and our travel plans. Each of us shared what courses of study we are interested in. It was interesting to learn about everyone's interests. Ms. Neal and Ms. Maher shared their college experiences. 
The delicious Pizza Con Funghi. 
Soon time came for deserts. The waiter brought an array of mouthwatering desserts. I chose the cheesecake with oreo crust. The cheesecake was very satisfying.  Everyone else also seemed to enjoy their sweet dishes. 
The yummy cheesecake with oreo crust.
Too soon it was time to leave. When we were about to exit the restaurant, we met Menbere Aklilu, the proprietor of the restaurant. Her awe-inspiring life story and commitment to serve her community was very fascinating. When we told her that we will be attending summer programs at Brown University this summer, she became extremely happy for us. Her happiness was very heart touching. That moment made me realize how amazing the Ivy League Connection is and the pride everyone feels when they find out that we will be ambassadors for our community in the East Coast. 

I am thankful that a Meet and Greet was organized. The intention of the Meet and Greet was fulfilled as I got to know a little more about some of my cohort members. The countdown to an awesome summer begins now! 

A piquant Meal and a Lively Afternoon

I had the date marked on my calendar ever since Ms. Neal notified me. The Brown cohort's meet and greet took place at Salute E Vita Ristorante. I was the first one to arrive so I had the chance to marvel at the magnificent view that the restaurant provided.
It was a lovely day. 
Salute E Vita Ristorante

Once we all got there, we took many pictures. We posed in front of the restaurant's sign and greeted one another. We entered the lovely restaurant and  made our way to our table. All the girls were thrilled as to the restaurant's aesthetic. 

The entrance was quite elegant as well

I glanced at the menu and searched for a never before eaten plate. I was in the mood for pasta so I settled for Fettuccine with prawns.  I love soda as well so I decided to order a watermelon Italian soda which was wonderful. 

Heaven in a cup

Delicious plate

Before ordering our main meal, Ms. Neal ordered appetizers which consisted of fried calamari. It was my first time eating fried calamari  and I was not disappointed. I was stuffed already! I kept eating and talking to Gaby. She told me about her family vacation and about a project she worked on which consisted of her choreographer skills. I told her about  how I unfortunately got very sick and had to stay in and rest. 

Fried Calamari

While we ate, Ms. Neal elaborated on the trip. She told us that we will be traveling on train at some point and that we will have to travel swiftly because we are a big group. We are also going to have to discuss with strangers and get the ILC name out there. 

We also got the chance to meet Mary Torres. She was a Rosie and told us to visit her at the national park. It was very relevant since the course we will be taking is based on Women & Leadership. 
When it was time for dessert, I ordered cheesecake with Oreo crust. It was fantastic. 

Cheesecake with Oreo crust

As we prepared to exit, Ms. Neal recognized the owner of the restaurant- Menbere Aklilu. Ms. Neal elaborated on our trip to Brown. Ms. Aklilu was immensely proud of us and even shed some tears. She told us a bit about her story and it motivated me to keep working hard. She  invited us to come again and finally she said good-bye warmly with a kiss and a hug. 

Lunch with many incredible women.

Brown at Salute E Vita
June seems to have flown past me, and with less than a month left until our departure I could almost taste the New England humidity I have been told about countless times. While our cohort's get together had been marked on my calendar since it was first mentioned, I suddenly remembered it the day before and I was once again reminded how short the summer truly is. Upon arriving at Salute E Vita Ristorante, a hidden gem in Richmond's Marina Bay, I saw the rest of the cohort gathered in the parking lot. Ms.Neal, Ms.Ms. Maher, and all of the girls except Erin and Esme, who couldn't make it, were there. We were escorted inside, and took our seats. I sat next to Diana, and across from Ms. Maher. We talked about how our summer had gone so far, Wendy was a part of this really cool robotics program and Ms. Maher was happy not to have to teach summer school. 

Me, Mary Tores, and Diana
The waiter arrived with drinks and appetizers, I had an Italian raspberry soda- which was incredible, and there was fried Calamari and Bruschetta to start with. I had been looking forward to spending time with the cohort before our departure, and this was a great way to do it. It was a gorgeous day outside, not too cold and not too warm, and it felt very nice and peaceful as we sat and waited for our food to arrive. Ms. Maher recognized Mary Tores who sat at a table near ours, and was a Rosie. She came to say hello and told us to visit her at the national park. She also told us about how she ran away from home and came to California. It was brilliant to meet such an incredible woman. 

My Gamberoni
We got to talk more in depth about our trip, and it's very exciting see some of the details fleshing out. Ms. Neal gave us tips about talking to the person sitting next to us on the plane, and how we will be getting around in the East Coast. Once our entrees arrived, Gamberoni, or sauteed prawns with buttered mashed potato and fresh vegetables on the side for me, it was time to dig in. After a fabulous lunch, and another one of those soda's, Ms. Neal suggested dessert. A tray of delicate looking desserts were brought out, cheesecake, tiramisu, key lime pie, and many other mouthwatering sweets. I decided on a chocolate mousse, and I was not disappointed! 

Soon it was time to leave, and I felt as stuffed as a Thanksgiving turkey and maybe just a tiny bit delirious as we headed down to the exit. On the way out Ms. Neal recognized the owner of the restaurant, Menbere Aklilu, and we told her about the Ivy League Connection and what we would be doing this summer. Ms. Aklilu told us how proud she was, and her kindness was extraordinary. She told us a little about herself, how she moved to America, struggled with homelessness, and overcame her obstacles. She is such a big role model, and gives back so much to the community. She also invited us to come back to Salute E Vita and join her at an event where she teaches young women table manners and etiquette. She was such an inspirational person, and I felt so lucky to have the opportunity to meet women such as her and Mary Tores, and witness Women and Leadership in the world. 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

On Cloud Nine with the Brown Cohort

Brown Cohort in front of Salute e Vita Ristorante!

 The Brown Cohort meet and greet brought many pleasant, unforeseen surprises to us all. From having a really nice day, to meeting women who truly embody the essence of Women & Leadership, we had the perfect day! I could not have asked for more.

The evening started with us meeting at the parking lot of the beautiful restaurant, Salute e Vita Ristorante. Gabrielle with her trusty camera snapped some pictures of the group and then we continued to head inside. There we were greeted by a very courteous hostess who walked us to our table. 

We ordered some delicious refreshments and started talked. At the beginning Ms.Neal gave us some prompt questions to get the conversation going. From there the conversation flowed freely. Ms.Neal is going to get some training at Chico because she is going to start teaching an engineering class, how exciting! Mahi and Ms.Maher are having a relaxed summer but poor Komal is getting bombarded with AP summer assignments. Everyone is having exciting summers!

Ms.Maher pointed out Mary Tores, a Rosie the Riveter. She was super nice and even came over to our table to invite us to go visit her at the national park where she gives tours!
Everyone with Mary Tores!
By this time our food was ready. Everything looked appetizing and was definitely delicious!
I went with some grilled salmon on a bed of lemon butter with a side of sauteed spinach and  garlic mashed potatoes. For dessert I had chocolate mousse that was spectacular.  
Chocolate Mousse and Grilled Salmon
On our way out we met another amazing woman, Menbere Aklilu, the owner of the restaurant. Ms.Neal told her about our exciting upcoming trip. Her eyes filled with tears and she broke into a brilliant smile. She was so proud of us and this really hit home for me. Never have I met someone so nice and true to her feelings in my life. I aspire to be someone like her. All of us will become excellent leaders in our community and in the world!
Menbere Posing with the Brown Cohort 

Salute and Some Seriously Smart, Strong Souls

This way to Salute E Vita Ristorante!

The "meet and greet 2-4:30" note on my calendar seemed to float closer and closer to the present this week, giving me ample time to look forward to furthering my connection with the Brown cohort. I was expecting occurrences that did in fact take place: the ordering of food, the taking of pictures, the talking of summers... Yet I was not anticipating leaving Salute E Vita Ristorante with a warm heart and the lasting impression of some seriously smart and strong souls.

Let me explain. The group and I were shown to a lovely table in a light filled room. Two other groups were dining and within five minutes of sitting down, Mary Torres, an original "Rosie the Riveter," was identified as being one of those diners. She was kind enough to stop and chat with us before she left. As a teenager, she ran away from home because she wanted to help her country win the war. She arrived in the Bay Area, and got a job working in a shipyard. Thoughtfully and with much encouragement, she encouraged us to come by to the local Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historic Park.          
Mary Torres is standing in the center. 
Menbere Akilu is pictured hugging Mahi, second from the bottom.
We chatted through yummy hors d'oeuvres, a satisfying lunch, and tasty desert. The conversation began with some prompts but naturally evolved. We agonized over summer assignments, stressed over what to pack, chuckled at funny stories, discussed academic interests and compared feelings toward seafood.   

Bellies stuffed, we started for the exit but were stopped when Ms. Neal recognized the owner and introduced us. Boy were we lucky to meet her! Menbere Aklilu is wonderful. When she found out we were all going to take a class at Brown this summer, she hugged every one of us with tears in her eyes and said she was proud of us. This was coming from a woman with an astonishing life story who  was able to overcome unimaginable obstacles to give back to her community. She, once homeless, serves hundreds of homeless families every year in her restaurant. This is just one example of her kindheartedness. 

I hope that one day I will be able to make an impact on the world and people's lives in the way Menbere Akilu and Mary Torres have.   

Saturday, June 20, 2015

A Glimpse of Italy, A Glimpse of Women in Leadership

Every now and then, things appear to come together perfectly. A fascinating sequence of events can occur when you just stop to take in your surroundings. The people around you can turn out to have valuable perspectives or interesting stories. People can really make your day with their attitudes or the things they have to say. Today, the concept of Women & Leadership was emphasized, and it made me even more excited to be taking a course based around it this summer.

This afternoon, Ms. Neal, our lovely chaperone, invited Ms. Maher and all the Brown students (minus Erin and Esme who couldn't make it due to travel plans) to a lunch at Salute E Vita Ristorante, a gorgeous Italian restaurant located in the Marina Bay, Richmond. 

The intention of this get together was to bond and talk a little about. We exchanged stories about how our summer was going, what our pet peeves were, what we would like to major in, what attractions we would like to see while in the East Coast, and we got some history lessons as well. While we were there, Ms. Maher pointed out a familiar face, someone who volunteered at the nearby Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Park. We got to meet Mary Torres, an original Rosie, who happened to be at the restaurant with us. She was very sweet and told us to come by to the National Park one day and ask for her. After that encounter, Ms. Maher told us about the park right next door and how women went above and beyond during the war while the men were out in battle. Hearing about how women contributed to the US during WWII and meeting an original Rosie really tied in to what the Women & Leadership course will be focusing on. 
The Brown cohort poses with Mary Torres, one of the original Rosies at the Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Park in Richmond.
The scenery was beautiful and the food was exquisite! To start things off, we ordered deep fried squid and crunchy bruschetta toast with tomatoes and garlic. For my main course, I ordered the Spaghetti al Pomodoro with fresh tomatoes and meatballs, with a delicious Italian strawberry soda to drink. For dessert, I had a wonderful key lime tart with whipped cream. Everyone enjoyed their food.

All smiles with the Brown Cohort and Menbere!
After we finished stuffing our faces, we made our way to leave the restaurant, when we ran into the owner of the restaurant and struck up a conversation with her. We told Menbere Aklilu about how we were heading to visit the East Coast this summer as part of the Ivy League Connection. Menbere was overwhelmed with happiness and told us just how proud she was of us. She truly made an impression on me as a very positive, kind individual. She invited us to visit her again at her restaurant another time so she could introduce us to her etiquette-teaching lunch event, where she teaches young people the fundamentals of dining. Her affectionate and charming personality really struck a chord with me, and I ended up doing a bit of research on her. I found out just how much of a woman in leadership she is! A philanthropist and successful business woman of color, Menbere is also an excellent public speaker! I watched her give an incredible commencement speech to grads at Holy Names University on Youtube. Menbere's personal story of how she achieved many milestones across her life is truly an inspirational one. I look forward to seeing her again some time.

Overall, this afternoon was filled with good conversation, great company, and delicious food! Hearing about the Rosy the Riveter program and meeting such an excellent entrepreneur such as Menbere made me realize that Women & Leadership is everywhere. I look very forward to taking a course this summer which focuses on something that really interested me today.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Orientation! Orientation! Orientation!

Pinole Middle School Office
June 1, 2015 marks a very important day. It is the day that the ILC dream finally starts becoming real to me. Before it seemed oh so far away, but now it's really here and I can hardly wait. 

I made my way home with a bounce in my step and a growl in my tummy. I helped my sister with the kids in the daycare for a short while and then grabbed a bite to eat. My father decided to join me on my quest to make the perfect sandwich. We nailed it perfectly, if I do say so myself. Shortly after, we set out to Pinole Middle school. I got worried because of the heavy traffic on the freeway but in the end, we were even early. 

Once we parked, we headed over to the clipboards to sign ourselves in. When we walked in we were surprised by how many people there were. I thought there was going to be way more people! My father and  I took a seat on the table in middle next to Wendy and her father.

Shortly after the orientation began. Don called up all the chaperons so they could introduce themselves and give a brief descriptions about their experience with ILC. It was very insightful seeing the personal sides of the chaperons.

After the introductions we split into our cohorts. Since the Brown cohort is the biggest we got to stay in the multipurpose room. Everyone else went to separate classrooms to talk with their chaperon. Tiffani started by having us do the signature sheets, once that was completed, we got the rough outline of our itineraries. We will be on the East Coast for about three weeks.We will be arriving one day early at our dorm rooms so we don't have to rush. I am excited to see who I will be rooming with!
Loaner Luggage 

Monday, June 1, 2015

Excitedly Preparing For an Awesome Summer at the Orientation

To continue the Hercules High School tradition of wearing aloha shirts to the Orientation to celebrate Don, who works tremendously hard for everyone and who I am extremely thankful of, I wore my pink, black aloha shirt and headed for the Orientation at Pinole Middle School. 

At 5:57 PM, I hastily entered the campus. I ran to the multipurpose room, quickly signed in, and took a seat with my mom. The first thing I noticed in the hall was an array of suitcases and bags on and along the stage and a display of traveling items ranging from alarm clocks to laptops to bed sheets to flip-flops on a table near the door. 

As everyone settled down, Don began to talk about how the event will proceed. Then all the chaperones introduced themselves and spoke about their past experiences with the Ivy League Connection and their excitement for the summer. 

Next the breakout sessions took place in which all cohorts gathered in their designated locations. Ms. Neal and Mrs. Maher, my chaperones, passed out a basic outline of our itineraries. We also signed a few forms and confirmed our parents' names for the 2015 ILC group picture. 

Ms. Neal went over how and when we will be traveling to Brown University and the basics of living as a collegian. As she spoke about the cool activities we will be participating in during our stay in Providence and our site visitations to Harvard, Yale, and Wellesley, I became even more thrilled for the summer. 

An alum shared her experience with the ILC at Brown. She said the weather is hot and humid, the classes are very fun, the food is delicious, and the whole experience is incredible. 

After the breakout sessions, everyone returned to the multipurpose hall. Don discussed what we will need to pack for the trip and the available loaner items. 

The event came to an end as everyone window shopped for things they might want to borrow. 

To mark another year of the thriving Hercules aloha shirt tradition, all of us Hercules ILCers gathered with Don to take lots of pictures. We also took plentiful pictures with Ms. Thrift, the Hercules High School theater teacher and an ILC chaperone.

Eventually the hall became almost empty. As my mom and I waited for my dad to pick us up, we began chatting with Chiamaka, an ILCer and a friend from Hercules. I asked her for advice on what I should borrow from Don. I confirmed some concerns with Don and left the campus feeling super excited for the summer. 

I Can't Wait!

"Yeee-aaaahh!" Gwennie Gilbert-Snyder screeches and jumps around, facing me. She sighs relief as she registers that it is just me. It turns out she is easy to scare.    

And so the Ivy League Connection Orientation begins.
The Brown Flag That Marked Our Meeting Place

We all gather towards the front of Pinole Middle School's Auditorium to hear Don Gosney begin the meeting. Congratulations are given, and it is pointed out that we are at the end of the beginning that was filled with paper work, professional outfits, and interviews. We are so close to summer, to being able to hop on a flight and DO what we have been working towards all year!

"All around me are familiar faces." This is a good thing, in opposition to Tears for Fear's original intent of lyrics. Alumni, classmates, parents, chaperons, Don Gosney, Madeline Kronenberg and Charles Ramsey fill the room. There are no "worn out places" or "worn out faces." The building is bright and clean, and the people are eager for details, and an ILC experience.  

We are encouraged to showcase our best selves on our trip. To represent our school district well. To be fearless by talking to as many people as possible. To ask questions, and absorb answers. To explore. To come home, and spread our new knowledge around the community. 

I look forward to doing that. 

The Brown Cohort shuffles around the cafeteria in search of our Brown Flag. We find it, and squeeze into a nearby lunch table so that we can hear our chaperon, Ms. Neal, explain our itinerary and plans. The other Brown Chaperon knows a theater lighting professor at Yale, and said she could look into us talking with her. I love the performing arts, so this excites me greatly!! 

"EL CERRITO HIGH SCHOOL!" We chant this a few times towards the end of the meeting to embed our departure location into our memories. My older sister Natalie participated in the ILC last year and I remember waking up around 2 in the morning to drive her to the high school. It was so easy to have to only drive five minutes to bid her off. I am glad we have the same luxury this year!

Orientation Oh My!

As I made my way to Pinole Middle School for our orientation, I was excited about some of the details about our trip being revealed. Soon after my mother and I signed in and took our seats, Don began going over the minutia of this summer. Many of the parents were relatively in the dark about a few things, so Don introduced himself and called up the counselors to talk a little about what our cohorts would be doing at our respective university's and key sites we would be visiting. Since our cohort will be touring Harvard and Wellesley which are both in Massachusetts, I am ecstatic to learn we will be spending time in Boston. Ms. Neal did a great job, and I am more excited than ever for what the summer will bring. A few ILC alums were able to attend the orientation, and it was great having them share their past experiences with us. They introduced themselves and told us what programs they had taken part in. 

The ILC Brown Cohort of 2015

We then split up into our cohorts, and since Brown was the largest we got to stay in the multipurpose room. Ms. Neal gave us a few things to sign and handed us very basic itineraries. She talked about Providence, Brown dorm rooms, dining, the weather, and gave us wonderful tips. We were also joined by Adrian Ramsey, one of the alums who had also attended the Women and Leadership program. She gave us invaluable first hand advice, and I appreciated her honesty and thoroughness. I am looking forward to experiencing the East Coast culture, as I am sure it will be much different from California. Adrian talked about how Providence reminded her of El Cerrito, small but with no shortage of things to experience.

Ms. Neal answered questions about allowances and other technicalities and mentioned a meet up we will have sometime in June. I was very happy to learn that we would have a lot of input in what we will be doing on the East Coast. Its an incredible experience to be able to have that level of freedom and I am sure I will use it well. The cohorts reunited and Don started talking about another thing the ILC provided for us, loaner items. If  we did not have something we would be able to loan it from the Ivy League Connection. The room was filled with suitcases and other various luggage and there was a table set to the side covered in bed sheets, blankets, camera's, laundry bags, laptops, and many other things we would be able to loan for our trip. Don also went over some things regarding air travel and gave us tips pertaining to that. After a while, it was time to leave and although I felt a tiny bit overwhelmed with all this new information I was determined to make this summer brilliant.


The Day Is Almost Here

Today, the Ivy League Connection had an orientation at Pinole Middle School. We all had the chance to discuss most of the things that we will be doing to get ready for the trip and once we are in Rhode Island. What we need, and the departing/departure times. Most of this information I had already heard from the first time we met.
The Examples and Loaners
One of the alums that were there mentioned all the things she did and how the Woman and Leadership class worked. She had been in this program about 4 years ago. Her small speech made me feel much better about arriving at Brown University. She talked about the dorms, the project she did in the class, and the delicious food. I really hope I like the food. I would really be willing to try a lot of new food. Of course, as long as they do not contain anything I am allergic to. I really did not expect the dorms to be about 7 minutes from class. I am going to be doing a lot of things I am not used to. She also mentioned her roommate and the wonderful group of girls she met and kept touch with them after years. I really hope I get to bond with the girls the same way. 
The Luggage
Don talked about all our luggage and necessities just like last time. Although he had already told us not to pack more than what we need, I really did not expect we would have to carry our luggage with no elevator in the hot weather. This made me think twice about what I plan on taking. Now, I am sure I will pack only what I need and what I can carry. I am glad I already have most of the things we will be needing. One less thing to worry about. 
At first, my parents were a little worried about the trip. After Ms. Neal mentioned to all the parents not to worry about us and we are going to be supervised, it made my parents a lot less concerned. Especially about me eating. Luckily there will be a cafeteria there where we will have access to. 
I am really looking forward to get together with Ms.Neal and the girls to learn more about each other and talk even more about the trip. I am sure we will bring back great memories. I am also looking forward to visiting Harvard, Yale, and Wellesley. It is really an honor. I hope we get to visit the place where there is fire on water, as the alum mentioned before. I am praying the weather does not ruin our plans. 

So Here's the Plan...

This evening, the Ivy League Connection students were attending an orientation regarding the plans for our trips this summer. As usual, being punctual was my main priority, so after nagging my mom to hustle it up, I left my house to head over to Pinole Middle School.  As soon as my car rolled around the corner of the entrance, I could make out the other ILCers signing in and entering the multi-purpose room.
The ILCers and their parents attentive to the orientation.
After signing in and greeting familiar faces, we got settled down as Don picked up the mic to address us. Don spoke about how After his brief but effective speech, Madeline Kronenberg let us know she had to leave early in order to attend a graduation, but that this meeting was the time to ask questions, and to really get to know about our trips and what's expected. Next, Don called the chaperones up to say their words. Each chaperone stated who they were, what school they were chaperoning, what universities their cohort was visiting, and more. Afterwards, Don gave us the okay to break into our individual cohort to discuss their own travel plans.
Ms. Neal talking about chaperoning the Brown cohort.

As everyone broke out into their groups, the Brown University ladies and our family members shuffled over the our own table, where Ms. Neal, our lovely chaperone, was gathering the supplies, ready to hand us out some forms. She gave us our tentative itineraries, which included when we would be leaving, the course dates, and our tour visits to Harvard, Yale, and Wellesley. She told us about how the dorm situation was going to work, what our dining hall would provide for us, and more important details regarding our stay in Rhode Island. Adrianne Ramsey, an ILC alum who attended the Women & Leadership course at Brown just like me, gave us a lot of valuable information on what life was like on the Brown campus, what the Women & Leadership course looked like, and what visiting Providence was like. Her words gave way for even more excitement to be going to Brown this summer!

As the cohorts reunited once again, Don went up to speak once more. Now he would be going over what to pack, how to pack, and what items were up for loan. For this part of the orientation, I had to take out my notepad in order to remember Don's tips regarding travel and luggage. On one hand, Don was emphasizing the need to be ready for anything, to pack this and that and those and these. But on the other hand, Don was warning us to pack only what we were willing to carry. How am I ever going to get my luggage together?

At about 7:30, the orientation was at its conclusion. By the end of the meeting, the prospect of going to Rhode Island this summer felt so much closer. All the hard work put in by the sponsors, by the students, by the parents, by the coordinators, would finally come together in a matter of weeks. This orientation only solidified the anticipation.

The ILC's Orientation

Once again, I was terrified that I was going to arrive tardy. I had to stay at school for more time than I intended to because I needed help with my Algebra 2 homework. When I got home, my parents were just frustrating me. They didn't understand that I had to be there on time. They were taking their time and even sat down to eat dinner! Can you imagine how irritated I was?!

Anyways, on the way to Pinole Middle School, I attempted to look up the directions on  my phone. It was a disaster. My phone decided that I didn't need the directions.  My anxiety was making itself known. Within those dreading minutes, I finally made it to Pinole Middle School. Where I was greeted by Don.

I was immensely relieved as to my punctual arrival. I arrived at about 5: 40. Surprisingly, there was barely any ILCers. I waited patiently with my dad at the tables.  Later, when they started coming in, I started to panic when I saw everyone bring in a notebook and a pen. Were we supposed to bring that? I thought nervously to myself. Fortunately, we did not have to bring anything.

Don went over everything that we needed to know. He reviewed the itinerary and the departure dates were reviewed by my chaperone. All which got me even more excited. I really can't wait. The day is almost here.
Some of the items we'll need for our trip

Orientation at Pinole Middle School

Gabrielle Looking Excited
for The Trip
      Today I was excited for the ILC orientation because it was an opportunity for me to spend more time with my fellow ILC members and learn more about my upcoming trip to Brown. After arriving home from school at four I decided to try and finish all of my Physics final prep work because I wasn't sure how long the orientation and blogging would take. Luckily I didn't have to dress up for this event so I was able to quickly grab a bite to eat and leave the house at 5:15. I was a bit anxious about arriving on time because there was lots of traffic on the freeway but everything worked out and I arrived at Pinole Middle School at 5:45. 
      As soon as we arrived we made our way to the sign in tables outside of the multipurpose room. I found the Brown clipboard, checked off my name, and updated my information. My mom and I then headed into the room and found a seat to wait for the meeting to begin. More and more people continued to trickle in and luckily everyone had arrived on time so we could begin at six. The chaperones had all gotten there early so they had gone over the plan for the orientation. 
Tiffani Sharing Info With Us 
      First all of the chaperones went to the front of the room and introduced themselves. It was very fun and informative to hear them talk about their past experiences traveling with ILC. I had only ever met my chaperone, Tiffani, so I enjoyed being introduced to the rest of them. Just hearing them talk about all the fun locations that they had visited in the past made me so much more excited for my trip. 
     Next we broke up into our smaller cohorts so that we could talk about or specific trips. Since the Brown cohort is the biggest we got to stay in the multipurpose room while all the other groups went to classrooms to talk in their small groups. All of us crowded around one lunch table so we could hear Tiffani as she explained our itinerary and gave us some more details about the trip. She also passed around a group picture and some signature sheets so that we could all give Don the mandatory information that he needed. Adrian Ramsey, and ILC alum, also came to share her experience with us. We had gone to El Cerrito High School and participated in the Mock Trial team together so it was really fun to see her again. She gave us lots of information on how the class works, what the dorms are like, and other fun activities she participated in while she was at Brown. Hearing from Adrian gave me a different perspective on the program and made me even more excited for the class. 

     While we were broken up in our cohorts we also talked about the site visits that we would be going on. We are going to stay after for an extra three days so that we can visit Harvard, Yale, and Wellesley. These trips are really great because they will allow for me to see other colleges while I am on the east coast. 
Don's Beautifully Organized Loner Items
     After we were done meeting with our cohorts we all gathered together in the multipurpose room. This was when Don told us all the information about what to pack and loner items. He had organized the loner items all around the room. All of the small items were neatly ordered and labeled on a table in the front of the room. The larger luggage items were all displayed on the stage surrounding Don. We also went over some important information about what to expect on departure day and some of the basic rules and expectations of the program. Nobody had any questions so we were able to finish around 7:30. I left the meeting even more excited about my summer at Brown then before. Spending time with my cohort and learning all of the details has made the whole experience seem more real.