Saturday, June 30, 2012

Nashville, Here I Come!

As I sit in my room, looking into my nearly-filled suitcase, a flood of happiness runs through me. I can’t believe I will be out of California in just a few days! I haven’t been out of state in a while and I don’t remember the last time I actually did. To add to that, I have never been away from my family for more than five days, and although that was back in 6th grade, I am pretty wimpy for feeling a slight pang of homesickness by the fifth day. Even if I do feel homesick, I’m sure I’ll have too much fun in Nashville to even notice it.

Anyway, the time has come! The time has come to explore, to discover, and to learn. The past couple of months have prepared me for this moment and I know that I am ready for it. I can also tell that the other teens attending Vanderbilt this summer are ready as well, since many of them post non-stop about their excitement on the VSA Facebook page. They are such an enthusiastic group of people and I am thrilled to meet them very soon.

In preparations for my trip, I have been running to several stores, doing AP summer assignments, and packing; or at least planning what I want to pack. Since the temperatures on the east coast have reached records over 100 degrees with humidity, I need to have plenty of clothes handy since sweat will probably be a constant companion of mine. Luckily, Vanderbilt dorms have AC (THANK GOD), so it shouldn’t be too bad – while I’m inside. Either way, I don’t think anything can prepare me for the excruciating weather ahead.

Nonetheless, I am thrilled to partake in all the activities we will be doing before we go to Vanderbilt; from our dinner with Duke Alumni to the tour in Georgetown to our amazing 4th of July, roaming around Washington D.C., I can honestly say this summer is going to be one astounding journey.

So all I have left to say is: Nashville, here I come!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Final Step As Adventure Awaits

The Ivy League Connection's final milestone event before our departure to the east coast and Vanderbilt finally came! The ILC congregated at the new, fully remodeled Pinole Middle School. While I was in the 8th grade at this middle school, the school was only half reconvened, but coming to this orientation has shown me how much the school has changed. It was beautiful, and to be honest, it looked way better than what Pinole Valley High School looks like today. I felt very nostalgic--having not visited this school for at least one or two years. It made me miss the old middle school days, when things were a bit easier (although not a lot easier because that age for everyone, in my opinion, is pretty frustrating and one of the worst). But it also made me realize that college is coming up just in a year for me, and by this time next year, I will know what college I'm going to! I guess I'll have that same nostalgic feeling when I visit PVHS again, as I did when I visited here.

But enough of the nostalgia. Most of the time at this event, each program was given an itinerary and practically everything the ILCers and the chaperones will do (other than at the school). I was stunned to see just how much effort, organization, and preparation the ILC administrators have put in to our trip. No wonder this is the only program of its kind in the nation. They nearly had everything we were going to do for the week before we start the program. I was also surprised, and of course excited, that we will first arrive at Duke in North Carolina, and then conveniently fly to D.C. to spend our time at the nation's capital for 4 nights. But what surprised me the most was the fact that I had a hotel room all to myself while on these college tours! I believe at D.C., we're staying in suites too, because I'm getting a king bed and a couch bed (you know--just in case I want to change up where I sleep for the four nights there). We also will visit UPenn by train, which I'm also excited for. It should be an amazing week before our program at Vanderbilt starts.

One important thing that I felt was brought up in this orientation was when Ms. Kronenberg mentioned that the ILC is not truly a reward for the students. Yes, the trip will be fun, and I will learn a lot, meet many new people, and visit new places, but there are strings attached to this "reward". The ILC ambassadors of the West Contra Costa Unified School District have a job. We must act like young adults, be on-time, be courteous, but most importantly, share all our experiences with everyone. We're the ones representing this district; to people, one person from an area really is seen as a reflection upon the entire community--and we must and will behave accordingly.

The surprising rewards and just simply, surprises, will never cease to stop so long as I am in this program it seems, and that's totally fine with me. In fact, I don't think the surprises will ever end even after this program is over. I already know, as the ILC administrators constantly tell the ambassadors this, that I'm going to be a new person, who sees society in a different way. And I can't wait any longer; adventure awaits!