Friday, July 31, 2015

The End of the Beginning

Today was full of many conflicting feelings. I didn't realize that leaving so many wonderful people behind will affect me so much emotionally and mentally. Each person in my class has made their way to my heart even if we didn't know each other that well. I hope we can't all see each other in the near future.

In class we had a silent activity facilitated by Mary Grace. The activity consisted of five people inside a circle that would tap the people on the outside that had their eyes closed if the statement that Mary Grace said applied to  that person. I really did not expect to get tapped at all but I was in multiple occasions. It really made me think about everyone and how they perceive me differently than what I think of myself. I am very glad  I got to make connections with such cool leaders.

Later, during lunch we went to the Ratty for one last meal. We all sat together with our TA, Tory. She is one of the most amazing people I have ever met in my whole life. We all chatted an made sure we had a way to contact each other in some way shape or form.

We. the ILC girls, took a bit earlier leave to practice our speeches once more before we had to present. We also took some really cool pictures. We were all a bit nervous before we started walking inside the building where the big presentation would happen. Tory gave us some reassuring hugs. We decided to sit towards the middle of the room and watch the whole presentation.

For my presentation I was in group E. We had six students including me and two parents and the facilitator. I was the second person to go up. I expected to feel more tension in the room when people were presenting but it was a very friendly environment. I feel like I did pretty well since I was able to make everyone laugh/chuckle. Every one in my groups had excellent plans that were very engaging. I tried to ask questions and affirm the people that were going up. We did not take long at all to talk about our action plans. Unfortunately Ms. Neal was not able to attend any of the presentations. Even so they were super awesome.
Group E 

After everyone met back at the building where Kisa gave the big presentation, we said our our good byes to our friends, teachers and TA. We will keep in contact! After the sad goodbyes we got the remaining parts of our luggage and headed to return the fans to get the deposit back. We made it just in the nick of time. We also dropped off the dorm keys in the Grad Center.

Ms. Neal dropped us off at the trains station where we waited then decided to go down to wait for our train. It was a bit delayed but it was fine. I took a nap during the train ride. It helped me feel energized. Then we took the subway to Harvard. We had too carry our bags up a lot of stairs. Some people walking by decided to help and it was very nice of them to go out of their way to help us.

We walked to our hotel and by the time we got there I was exhausted. We checked in to our rooms and then we went for dinner to Flat Patties. I wasn't all that hungry so I didn't eat. we then returned to our room and started blogging.

Today was emotionally, Mentally and physically exhausting. I need more time to actually digest what happened throughout the whole day,

Sad Sad Sad

Wendy, classmate Kalpana, Mahi, Esme, and Diana. 
My speech went well. I was very happy that Kisa Takesue, director of Leadership Programs, was my facilitator. She ran many workshops in the past two weeks, and is wonderful; She makes the point to be personal. She is very aware of us ILC'ers, and stopped to ask us about our experiences, and how the ILC is doing. The facilitator in each room is supposed to ask questions of the speech-giver about their action plan. She didn't ask me a question, but instead commented that she liked how I measured success, and thought that my idea was a good one! 

The video below is of lunch at the Ratty. Not wanting to be split into groups, we pushed normal lunch tables together to be able to eat with the entire group. 
I did not want this day to come because I knew it meant that I would begin missing every wonderful person I have met. Many times throughout this day, I was moved by my classmates, my TA, and my instructor. Everyone wore classy, dressed up outfits for the final day. Mary Grace gave us gifts--within a party bag were small items that represented something she wanted to remind us of. For example, she gave us a small container of play dough to remind us that we could mold ourselves into anything we wanted to be. Tory wrote us all cards with thoughtful messages inside. I actually became nervous a few hours on the train ride over here, to Boston, because I thought I had lost it before I could read it!      

Diana Ramirez, everyone. 
We participated in an exercise this morning that involved anonymous recognition in things like being future world leaders, being good hearted, making others smile, giving good advice, and teaching others. This exercise made me feel good about what I had done with my two weeks on the Brown campus, it gave me confidence, and it was nice to affirm others. 
My incredible instructor Mary Grace, and my fabulous TA, Tory. 
I am going to miss Mary Grace and Tory terribly. 

Mary Grace gave me advice that I will be able to apply to the rest of my life, and she respected me like an adult. I am so impressed with her abilities to lead a group of teenagers in a forward-moving, positive direction. She has very impressive leading roles in the Brown world, and yet, she takes two weeks of her time to teach us. She is generous, super nice, and very helpful.  

I began looking up to Tory within ten minutes of meeting her. I asked her to critique two of my papers, and she did it without batting an eye. One she even did at eleven at night. I asked her endless questions, and she gave me honest answers. She always had really interesting opinions and knowledge to share about the topics we were studying.

I am really going to miss learning from them.       
This is for everyone who asks: What do you learn in Women and Leadership?
We met Guy Sanchez, a Brown alum. His daughter is a junior at Bryn Mawr College, and she is studying Arabic. My older sister Natalie is going to be attending Bryn Mawr next year, so I was excited to hear that his daughter is accomplishing great things. He offered us valuable advice, and was sweet enough to buy us Brown pens and pencils!    
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We then took the exhausting trip to get to Cambridge. I had a pillowcase stuffed with sheets and other cloth items as well. I had my backpack, my tote bag and my suitcase. It was hard to get around with so many heavy, bulky items. 
We finally made it, and I am really excited to tour Harvard tomorrow. That doesn't mean I have gotten over feeling sad however. 

So Many Emotions on the Last Day at Brown

I was overwhelmed with emotions today. I was nervous about my presentation, scared for the final, and sad that it was my last day at Brown. Three weeks have gone by so fast. I feel like if yesterday was my first day. I loved being in my class, working in lab, and enjoying the college experience.

The two people I will extremely miss are Professor Hall and Jackie. Professor Hall was such an admirable and fantastic teacher. She is one of the best teachers I have had. The other person I will truly miss is Jackie. Jackie was such an amazing roommate. She is an amazing person with great thoughts and ambitions. I can't wait to meet her in Boston during the weekend!

My presentation went well. I was happy that my group and I were able to present our research on intellectual property and genomics as we planned to present it. I learned a lot from the classmates' presentations. I never knew much about genetic discrimination, incorrect genetic testing, privacy of one's DNA, gene patenting, and many other issues related to genomics. Through everyone's presentations and my research I was able to gain a lot of knowledge about these recent or ongoing issues in genetics. 

After the presentations, it was time for!  I  was a little nervous for the final, however it wasn't too difficult. I knew the answers to most of the questions. I hope I did well on the final.

After saying goodbyes to Professor Hall, Emily, and my classmates, I came to my dorm to chat with Jackie and finish packing. Soon I went to eat my last meal at Brown. Although the vegan nuggets weren't that great, I enjoyed my last meal at the V-Dub. 
A class picture on the last day of class.
With a sad feeling, I said goodbye to Jackie and met with the rest of the cohort. When I met Andrea, she started crying. After getting very close to both Jackie and Andrea, I felt really sad leaving them. 

After running around for errands, we finally left for the train station. Before we left the Brown campus, we stopped by the Van Wickle Gates to take some group pictures.

Posing in front of the iconic Van Wickle Gates
We all look crazy.
For a second lunch, we went to Chipotle. There, we got an opportunity to talk to Guy Sanchez, a Brown alum and a successful engineer. It was very nice of him to gift each of us a Brown pencil and pen. It was great talking to him about the opportunities available at Brown. I felt very inspired when he talked about his journey being a first generation college graduate. I am very glad that I got an opportunity to talk to him.

Once we got to the train station, we waited for some time for the train to arrive. In the waiting period, we had a photo session and some crazy activities.

I was very excited to have my first Amtrak train journey. The seats were extremely comfortable and everything was just great. Thank you Ivy League Connection for giving me an opportunity to enjoy traveling in a train!
Traveling in a train!
After we arrived in Cambridge, we walked to our luxurious hotel: Sheraton Commander. I am sharing a fancy room with my buddies: Wendy and Gabi. 
Our luxurious room.
We all had dinner at a restaurant called Flat Patties. The food was okay, however the new city experience was great. 

Tears, Hugs, and Good-Byes

Today class began at 10 which meant that I got an extra hour of sleep. I woke up at 8:50 and got ready for today. Today I had to present my Action Plan; I wasn't exactly nervous, but I wasn't thrilled about it either. So I quickly put on my dress and left to The Ratty with Gabi at 9:10. For the last time, I ate pancakes and eggs. 

It didn't really hit me that today was the last day until I was walking to class. "This is the last day", I thought to myself. I didn't know how to feel. In class, I sat next to Gabi whom I had previously eaten breakfast with. 

The class began with Mary Grace showing us a picture of a cow-boy in a desert setting. The picture conveyed a cow-boy staring at a T.V. Each time she would zoom in and ask us what we thought it was. After numerous responses, she finally elaborated as to the meaning of this activity. She said that this represented our way of thinking after this class. Not only did we look at the picture as a whole, but we also looked deeper. 

The class played a game as well. Mary Grace told everyone to close their eyes. If she tapped you on the shoulder it meant that you had to go in the middle. If you went to the middle, you had to tap the people sitting down on the shoulder if the statement applied to them. Some statements that she said were, "Tap this person if you wish that you got to know them better" or  "tap this person if they made you smile today." I got some taps, and every time I smiled. I really wanted to know who were the ones tapping me, but I guess that would have probably ruined the game. Just knowing that people appreciate you is great even if you don't know who the person is. 

Later in the class, we took multiple photos. Tory, our TA, gave us all individual letters. This meant a lot to me, because not everyone takes the time to write to 25 girls an individual and personal letter. Mary Grace also gave everyone a gift. It was a small plastic bag with small objects and each one had a different meaning. I know that I'll never forget the puzzle piece. Each girl received a puzzle piece along with other symbolic items. The puzzle piece represented how even though we were all from different countries and states and were now going our own ways we are still going to be connected someway. My eyes were getting watery by this point.

Soon after, the whole class was crying. It was very emotional realizing that we'll are most likely never going see each other again. Many hugs were exchanged and tears streamed down everyone's cheeks.

After that we ate lunch as a class.

Let's not forget the Action Plan. After a brief assembly closing Summer@Brown and celebrating the student's accomplishments we were all split into our groups in which we would be presenting. I was put into group O. I started to get nervous. After I had presented, I patiently listened to the other student's wonderful ideas. 

Once all of  that was done, I hugged my classmates and said my good-byes. It was extremely difficult to keep the tears hidden. Now it was time to clean my dorm and say good-bye to it as well. I was distraught and still am. I'm going to miss everyone and  this experience. 

Emotions Run Rampant

Mary Grace, Tory, and I
Today was understandably very emotional. It was our last day here at Brown! Class started at 10 today which gave us a little more sleep. Esme, Diana, and I got Starbucks for breakfast, I had a hot chocolate and a chocolate chunk cookie which was very good. By the time class had started my heart already felt a little heavy. 

We started off with reviewing the hopes and hope not's we had written the first day of class. Everything we had hoped had happened, which was awesome. We all shared how we felt and affirmed Tory and Mary Grace. We shared how much they had impacted us, and how we looked up to them. It was personal and beautiful and I had tears streaming down my face by the end of it.

Kulpna and I
We played "touch someone who" which was where we all sat in a circle and closed our eyes. Mary Grace would tap five people to go to the center and read statement such as "touch a person who you have learned from" and "touch a person whose smile lights up the room". The people in the middle would then touch the people who they thought that applied to on the shoulder.

My empty dorm
It felt incredible every time I felt that tap because it was affirmation that I was appreciated. I think that activity should be integrated into more schools. Tory made us little personalized cards which were so brilliant and Mary Grace gave us little packages. I felt so grateful to be able to have spent all that time with people as incredible as them.

We all walked to the Ratty for one last meal, the whole class ate together. I am going to miss these girls so much because they have been such inspirations to me. After lunch we walked to McMillan Hall, which was right next to our classroom, for the action plans.
Kamri and I

Kisa did introductions and started a slideshow of our two weeks at Brown, which I absolutely loved. We then split up into our action plan groups. It went great and was over before I knew it. We met up outside McMillan to take pictures before parting ways.

We said our goodbyes, eyes full of tears, I hugged the girls and invited them over to California anytime. We headed to Perkins, packed up last minute things, made sure our rooms were okay, and loaded into the van, running to turn in our fans and room keys.

We went to Chipotle to have lunch with Guy Sanchez, a Brown alum. Guy, an engineer, grew up in Texas. He was very helpful and gave us really thorough and meaningful answers. It was great to have his insight into Brown University and the college application process in general.

After lunch we headed to the train station and departed for Boston. Once we had arrived at Cambridge we checked into our hotel and went for dinner. I had a grilled chicken sandwich and a delicious mango blood orange drink. I returned  to my room which I share with Esme and Diana and fell asleep.

Last Day At Brown

Today was the last day of class. It turned out to be way more emotional than I expected. Class started at 10AM, an hour later than usual. It gave me time to get my stuff ready for later because we were going to Boston

The first thing we did in class was to mention 1 word that described how we felt. I said mixed emotions. I was happy because it meant I was going back home soon. I was sad because I wanted to take that class for the rest of my life. I was really sad that this was the last time the whole class and I was going to be together. 

The second thing we did was an activity where we were all sitting in a circle with our eyes closed. Mary Grace tapped 5 people and those were able to open their eyes, stand up, and tap other people that were part of the question. For example, "Tap someone if they made you smile today." We had to lightly touch them on the shoulder. I was one of the 5 people she picked first. The questions made me want to tap everyone since everyone was such amazing human beings! Everytime someone tapped me, it was such a great feeling. Tory, the TA was even tearing up at this point.

Mary Grace had small gift for each one of us. Even though it was really small it was so cute and meaningful. She gave us a small bag with playdoh, a rubber band, bubbles, and we each had a couple of pieces to a 100 piece puzzle. The playdoh represented that we were able to shape ourselves and be who we wanted. The rubber band meant to not stretch our selves too thin. The puzzle pieces meant that even if it was our last day being together, we would always be connected in some sort of way. When she said this, I got really emotional. It was such a sad moment, everyone started crying.
One Last Picture

It is amazing how we were only in the course for two weeks and in those two weeks we learned so many topics Mary Grace brought up to us and we learned so much from each other. We were able to create a bond that I think no one else could have in just two weeks. I really will never forget about this amazing experience that made me have a completely different perspective in life. 

After saying our good-byes, we had to present our Action Plans. Saying goodbye and getting really emotional before the presentations was probably a bad idea but we still worked through it. I was really nervous to present I kept practicing because I really did not want to use notecards. Once we were separated into different groups with all the Leadership institute students, each group left to a different building. My group only had 6 girls to present and out of all of those 6 girls only 1 group of parents was there. I really wanted to present before anyone but since other girls had a flight right after it i had to let them go first. Unfortunately, I ended up going second to last. It actually was not as bad as I thought it would be. All of the girls were really nice and everyone was super supportive. After we all met up in front of another building and took pictures with each other and said a less emotional goodbye. 
Beautiful Faces
Deionte, Our Leader Fellow! 

We met at Chipotle with an alumni, Guy. He mentioned most of his educational experiences from his life. He talked about his daughter a lot. She speaks 3 languages; English, Spanish, and Arabic. People that speak more than 2 languages really amaze me. I am really hoping that soon I am able to take a class to learn another language other than Spanish. He mentioned his friend spoke more than 7 languages which was fascinating! One thing that I know I am going to remember for a long time was when he said to not worry about having enough money while applying to an Ivy school. The hardest thing to do is get accepted. To worry about that. After getting accepted there is always help to pay for it. Also about the college applications, many people write about what they do like clubs, sports, community service, etc. He believes it is more important to write about yourself.  I was really thinking about this and I pretty much agreed with it. So many people try to do so many activities just so it will be beneficial to get accepted to college and that is really all they write about. It gets kind of old and does not really make you stand out from the rest. 

Today was the first time I have every been on Amtrak. For some reason I had big expectations. I thought it would be super fancy inside but it was okay. The trip was not that long. Once we got off Amtrak we got on the subway. It was really packed in there specially with all of our luggage. On our way out we could not find an elevator so we had to take our luggage up the stairs, it was a hassle. 

Inside The Hotel
Outside the subway was really sketchy. It kind of reminded me of San Francisco. Right after the subway exit there was a cemetery. It was super creepy. I usually do not like being by cemeteries. We had to walk with our luggage all the way to the hotel. It was so tiring but a great work out.  These past two weeks I have been walking a lot more than usual and it is a great feeling. 

The inside of the hotel was really nice. I am sleeping in a room with Mahi and Diana. Right after we got our rooms we decided to go out. We went to a restaurant a couple of blocks away from the hotel called Flat Patties. It was really good. I ordered a hamburger with fries. The fries were delicious. 
Flat Patties
Hamburger & Fries 

On our way back we were really tired decided to blog and get some rest afterwards.

I really cannot believe how fast these two weeks have gone by. There is not enough times I could say. I wish I could go back to the first day!

Sad to be Moving On, Excited to be Moving Forward

My morning got off to a great start as I was walking with Erin, Tyler, and Phoebe to get food together for our last breakfast at the Ratty. Tyler suddenly got a text from Tory, our TA, to have breakfast with her. We met up at Au Bon Pain for some bagels as we chatted about random topics. We then walked with her to class.

The Women and Leadership girls where all gathered together in Room CIT 227 for what would be our last day of class, as well as our last day as a unit. I hadn’t realized how much I was going to miss my fellow classmates until we had the most emotional day of class. Dean Almandrez started us off by an exercise where we wrote one thing we had learned in the class on the white board. Later, we did an appreciation activity where we could anonymously show how everyone had affected our lives. Then we did some affirmation, where we were able to vocalize our thanks to Tory and Dean Almandrez. Afterwards, Tory and Dean Almandrez revealed gifts they had prepared for us. Tory had made everyone a personalized card, while Dean Almandrez gave us goodie bags with items to represent her hopes for us. We then took turns hugging everyone as well as took some time to take pictures of each other for memories.

All the girls then walked down to the Ratty for what would be my last meal as a part of the Summer@Brown Pre-College program. After taking lots of pictures together and goofing around for the last time, the girls all walked over to MacMillan Hall, where we would finally be presenting the Action Plans we had worked so hard on. We first had a meeting for the Leadership Institute to organize where everyone would be going to present their Action Plans. All the Leadership Institute students and their family members were there to see us finish our time at the program. While I was initially nervous to be presenting my idea, once I was in my designated room, I was the second person to present my Action Plan. I was a lot easier than I expected, probably because I had spent all of the previous night preparing my speech.

As I went back to my dorm one last time, I met up with my roommate Ava to say our proper, teary-eyed goodbyes. To remember each other, we traded off lanyards and ID’s and gave each other our door tags with our names that Tory had made for all of her residents. Saying goodbye to someone I had come to think of as a sister was a very hard thing to do. Even though I probably won’t see Ava for a long time, I still have hope that we will meet up again one day. I could never have asked for a better, cooler roommate.

The Brown cohort meets Guy Sanchez!
The Brown group staying at Perkins then loaded up Ms. Neal’s van with all of our luggage and were off to meet up with Guy Sanchez, a former Brown student, originally from Texas, who had majored in Engineering and was now living in Rhode Island. Guy was a first-generation college student, which always makes me happy to hear, since I will be a first-generation student as well as soon as I’m off to college. He had a lot to say about Brown's programs, and how it was a school with a lot of flexibility. He gave us advice on how to apply for college as well as how to find the right college.

A group photo at the Van Wickle Gates right before heading off!
Ms. Neal then drove us all to the Providence Station to catch the 7:19 train to Boston. We waited at the station for about half an hour before we boarded onto the train. I was especially excited because this was my first time on a train! I sat next to Erin and we worked a bit on our blogs as well as had some stimulating conversation about our time at Brown.

When we finally arrived in Boston, we took the subway to Harvard Square, and then walked to our gorgeous hotel, the Sheraton Commander. Unfortunately, it's hard to take in the beauty of such a hotel when you've been running around, going up and down stairs, with two large lugagge bags, a heavy backpack, and a pillowcase holding your bedsheets.

After checking in, we established roommates. I will be rooming with Erin. Once we got our keys and set our stuff down in our rooms, we all met in the lobby to head out for a late dinner. We walked around the gorgeous Harvard Square, which reminded me of San Francisco, and eventually found a small restaurant called Flat Patties. After enjoying my grilled cheese sandwich, we headed back to the hotel to finally have a chance to rest.

While today was a very bittersweet day, I look very forward to touring other colleges as well as getting to spend more time with my cohort.


A Bittersweet Day

Walking to breakfast With Tyler,
Phoebe, and Cindy 
As we were walking to the Ratty for breakfast this morning Tyler got a message from Tory, our TA, asking if we wanted to get crepes with her for a celebratory last day breakfast. Of course we couldn’t resist the invitation. Not only would we get delicious crepes but we would also get to spend some time with the best TA ever. As soon as we got to the crepe place we realized that it was closed. My hopes of gooey Nutella and fresh fruit were quickly shattered but we found another café to have breakfast at. It was amazing to talk to Tory more and I realized how much I will miss her.

We all headed to class together and met up with the rest of our amazing class. We started off class looking at a slideshow where an image started off very small and then grew larger and larger expanding our perspective of the situation. Mary Grace explained how this reflected the learning in our class. In class we all started off with fairly narrow or uninformed perspectives but we soon expanded our knowledge through discussion and analysis. Next we made a list of things that we had learned in this class. I was astounded just thinking about what I had learned because the material that we covered was so vast. I learned so much in this class from both my peers and Mary Grace.
Mary Grace and Tory 

Once we were finished with this we did an appreciation circle. We started this off by all sitting with our eyes closed except for five individuals who stood in the middle. Mary Grace would say a statement and the girls in the middle would go around and tap the shoulders of all the girls that applied. I felt so much closer to my class through doing this activity. Once each girl got a chance to be in the middle we switched it up and made verbal appreciations of our class, Tory, and Mary Grace. There were a lot of tears because the class was sad to separate. We had all bonded so quickly and didn’t want to leave yet.

Last Mean in ther Ratty
We all got lunch in the ratty then headed to McMillan Hall for our action plan presentations. There was a short introduction by Kisa of all of the Leader Fellows and Teachers then we all watched a slideshow. The Women and Leadership class made up the majority of the photos in the slideshow so we thoroughly enjoyed watching the last two weeks play by. After the slideshow we left the auditorium and found our small groups for the action plan presentation. I presented my action plan second out of all the people in my group so I was able to relax and enjoy the rest of the presentations. Since we practiced presenting yesterday I wasn’t nearly as nervous as some of the other students.

As soon as all of the presentations were over I met up with the rest of my class in front of McMillan Hall. I got to say my goodbyes to everybody including Tory and Mary Grace. I also sadly said farewell to my roommate who I will miss a lot. She was the best roommate I could ever ask for. I got to meet her parents which was really cool. I hope that she comes and visits Berkeley at some point so I can visit with her. Tyler and Phoebe had already left so I didn’t get to say my final goodbyes to them but Tyler is going to visit the Bay Area in October so I hope to meet up with her then. Saying goodbye to everybody made me realize how close bonds I had formed in such a short amount of time.

Leaving Providence 
We packed up the last of our luggage, returned our loaner fans, and then headed off to meet with Guy Sanchez. Guy Sanchez is a Brown alum who had so much helpful information to share with us about Brown. He gave us a lot of reasons why Brown would be a great school to go to but also taught us things about other schools. It was great to hear his enthusiasm and was a fabulous way to wrap up our Brown experience. After we had thanked Guy we headed off to take a final picture at the Van Wickle Gates and then went off to the train station. We had about an hour wait at the train station but time flew by as Cindy kept me occupied with jokes.

Cindy on the Train 
The train was pretty busy but I was still able to sit next to Cindy. I took the hour train ride to relax and look at the scenery out the window. I also enjoyed having stimulating conversations with Cindy about our experience at Brown.

We got to the Boston Train Station and then took the red line of the T to our hotel. The hotel was really nice. Cindy and I got to share a room. We all went out into Harvard square to get dinner. When we got back I went to the hotel gym for a little bit. It was small but nice and cool to run in unlike the eighty-degree weather outside. I got back to my room and sank into a clean, huge, and extremely comfy bed for the first time in weeks.