Friday, November 25, 2011


"When I look at you, I see a different person. Quieter, more observant, takes more notes. You've changed, my dear." - Robin Rose to me on the last day of Symposium 

I did not cry on the last day of Symposium (surprisingly), but Dean Rose's words almost brought me to tears. In the three months between Summer@Brown and Symposium, I do feel like I have changed. At the start of the school year, I was so ready to jump into my Action Plan that I was going past 100 mph. I was stressing myself out, I became very bossy and irritable, and when the littlest things felt wrong, to me, that felt like the entire world was ending. Looking back on the seven page paper I wrote about my Action Plan during the summer, I was shocked that I felt I so many things in one year. If I were able to do everything I'd hoped to do, I would be worried for my health.

Symposium really helped me realize that I while I may not be invincible, I am human and I do have to step back. A lot of the things I wanted to do in my Action Plan are great things, but adding too much and overstepping the message. So, my newly shaped Action Plan is this:
  • Present college-readiness workshops
  • Educate others about the achievement gap 
  • Write articles for newspapers about racial identity crises (I love talking about ethnicity and learning about different cultures) 
  • Note: The first two will be run through Angaza 
I feel like this newly polished Action Plan will really help me figure out more about myself and educate others about ethnicity and education.

If there is anything Brown University does, it is exposing people to who they truly are and helping them find their true potential. I love Brown University. It's an amazing school with a beautiful campus and truly beautiful people. I'm glad I got a feel for the student life and activities on campus; it's relaxing yet energetic at the same time. It is safe to say that I will be applying to Brown University next year, maybe even Early Decision. That is a huge leap and I'm going to have to work very hard to make sure I am presentable to the university, but I have faith in myself and I am hoping for the stars to align themselves. 

Brown University taught me to be different. It's my job now to help others expose themselves and better themselves. And for that, I truly thank Brown.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Symposium Reflections

Wow. Unless I’m quite mistaken, it’s been quite a while since the last time I blogged. In fact, it’s been 4 months! When I returned home from Brown at the end of July, I honestly didn’t think that I would see Providence again, unless I applied to college there. However, this fall I decided to apply to the Symposium on Social Action, a three-day event where Leadership Institute alumni were given the opportunity to return to Brown and meet with experts to discuss Action Plans. I was accepted to the Symposium in early October and I was thrilled to realize that I was going back to Brown.

Upon arriving at Hotel Providence, I was greeted by a wave of familiar faces. I was overjoyed to see so many friends who I had thought I would never see again upon completion of the Women and Leadership course in the summer. We compared stories about school, reminisced about the summer, and celebrated our unlikely reunion.

After a lovely Friday dinner we got down to business–community building exercises on Friday night, lectures and workshops in the morning and afternoon on Saturday, and more lectures on Sunday morning. It’s always a bit daunting to me to listen to the phenomenal testimonials of former Leadership Institute students who have done things like travel to India and do artwork with Tibetan schoolchildren, or send tennis equipment to kids in Zambia. However intimidating these events may be initially, I realize that they are extremely helpful because ultimately I always come away a little more inspired to try to make a difference.

The Symposium ended on Sunday on the main green of Brown’s campus. Saying goodbye to my friends was in some ways more heartbreaking than before because now I knew that I really wouldn’t be seeing them again, but at the same time I knew that we would continue to keep in touch. Saying goodbye to Brown was also difficult, especially since I fell in love with campus all over again during my three-day stay in Providence.

While I enjoyed Brown during the W&L program, one of the most vivid physical aspects I remember was the awful heat and humidity of an East Coast summer. Staying at Brown in the fall was an entirely different matter, as I found myself a bit too cold for most of the trip. I must say though, I absolutely loved the gorgeous autumn foliage that was present all throughout the East Coast.

As part of my journey back to the West Coast, I took a train from Providence to Boston. Although I had been planning to do homework, I ended up spending most of my time staring out the window in appreciation of the beautiful countryside. If I were to look out the window of a train back home, I would most likely see industrial complexes or perhaps golden California hills if I were lucky. On my voyage to Boston, I saw trees with leaves in flaming shades of gold and red, inky black pools of water with fallen leaves floating on their surfaces, and picturesque New England farmhouses. I treasured that train ride experience and did my homework on the plane instead.

One other thing I want to mention about my trip to Brown–I was lucky enough to see one of my friends from El Cerrito High, an ILC alum who now attends Brown University! Irene Rojas-Carroll took Adrianne and me to a spoken word performance on Saturday night, put on by students of Brown. Lupe Morales, another ILC alum and freshman at Brown, also came along and although I didn’t know her before the ILC I was glad for the chance to interact with her. She has a friendly, vibrant personality and welcomed us to Brown. Irene and Lupe told Adrianne and me about their busy schedules–and I thought that I was busy now as a junior!

I felt so privileged to have the opportunity to return to Brown and to feel as though I belonged with such a talented group of people. I never would have had this chance had I not been sent to Brown over the summer by the ILC, and I will remain eternally grateful for the support shown to me.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The End of a Wonderful Experience

I awoke at around seven feeling sad. I realized that this was the last day of Symposium and the last day I would be seeing the majority of the Leadership Institute. Trying to push through the emotions, I started packing. It had been made clear to us by our chaperones that we were going to check out of the hotel around nine that morning, so I hurried to make sure I wasn't going to leave anything behind. Due to this, I didn't have breakfast for more than fifteen minutes, but enjoyed the time with my classmates.
At Brown, we went into the art building and were greeted by a student panel. These three students were not Leadership Institute alum, but were current Brown students who were completing Action Plans.

Hans - Senior at Brown. He is working on the Poker Project, which is a study of health care status in Nepal. He has designed a health care system to help some of the homes in Nepal as well.

Austin - Senior at Brown. She helped disabled high school students complete volunteer work. Her program has monthly meetings and she has learned a lot about the disabled community.

Casey - Junior at Brown (science major). She started a non-profit organization called Longitude that builds up community service programs and then sends them on their way.

After the student panel, we split up into several groups, each with a different topic discerning leadership. I chose to be a part of the group discussing ethical leadership. If a person is ethical, they are doing the right/moral thing for others, not just for themselves.

The group discussion was very interesting. We decided that leaders need to have people to talk to and ideas to bounce off of, and that the most ethical thing is to ask for help. It is also good to provoke motivation to those who do not have it.

We were led back into the auditorium, where a selected person told the group what happened during their discussions. We then received a final lecture...and then it was over. Symposium was over. Summer/Symposium@Brown was over. I couldn't believe that everything was over. I didn't want to leave, I wanted to go home to my bed, I didn't want to leave the girls, I wanted to see my friends at was a complete mix of emotions.

Saying goodbye to the girls was incredibly sad. I knew that I was going to miss them, but I am happy we are going to be keeping in touch.
After exploring the campus, Ms. Kronenberg, Josie, Rebecca, and I headed to the airport and took a flight to Chicago. We then took a connecting flight back home to California.
Home. That is a funny word. You can believe home is one place when it can actually be somewhere else. I feel like the East Coast is truly calling me and that it is more of my home than it is in California. On the East Coast, I truly feel welcomed, like I have a purpose there, like all the work I am doing on the West Coast is actually paying off. Everything makes more sense on the East Coast. It is home.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Day 4: Bye Bye Brownies

Today was the last day at Brown University, and even though the Symposium only went until noon, it was as action packed as yesterday. I woke up late this morning, but only late for breakfast thankfully, not the bus to the school from the hotel. Otherwise, I would have to walk up the dreaded hill that never seems to end.

Once there we immediately dove into a small panel of Brown students that shared their incredible Action Plans. They made me feel that, one day, I could attend Brown and speak as a panelist to future summer students. Afterward, we broke out into groups based on what type of leadership our Action Plan requires. Of the four types of leadership (critical, transformative, educative, and ethical), mine was ethical serving the interests of those who can't help themselves, or in my case, animals.

After the meeting, we reconvened in the lecture hall where representatives of each group spoke to us as a whole about what they discussed in the break-out session. Once they finished, a speaker talked to us about her mentoring program designed to help us with our Action Plans. Then the Symposium ended.

We left the hall to have lunch in the main room and say our goodbyes. Ms. Kronenberg was right there waiting for us. After many pictures and hugs, the four of us left for the airport. Unfortunately, I packed my headphones in my suitcase, so I couldn't listen to music or watch movies on my laptop, making the flight very boring. But we arrived at Oakland airport after a few delays and went home. I ended up going to sleep at 4 AM East Coast time.

The Symposium was well worth it, but I would give anything to have made it longer than the four days. One year ago, I never would have thought I would be at an Ivy League University, spreading change in my community as well as myself. I hope more than anything to apply to Brown University and get accepted, as well as become a returning alum of the ILC. I was fortunate to get this opportunity and thankful I was part of this amazing program!

"At this time, would you please turn off your iPods, iPads, gameboys, gamegirls, blackberries, blueberries, and Halle Berries. Thank you and have a nice flight." -Southwest Stewardess

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Symposium Day 3: Happy Birthday To Me!

The weather is now exactly like San Francisco's in that it is sunny but borderline freezing. The hot shower woke me up, helping me to ready myself for the action-packed day ahead of me. After breakfast, we headed onto the bus, where we went straight up to Brown. We first had a panel of Symposium alums. The four alums, including our very own Irene, presented their actions plans and their success. They went into detail about their hardships and what they learned that could help us with our projects.

We then broke off into small groups based on the topic of our Action Plans. My group had mostly environmental/animal topics. My Action Plan is to found a club at my school in which awareness will be raised about animal rights and the benefits of adopting over purchasing from shops. The other students in my group helped me come up with ideas to further better my club and fundraise. Those two hours were the most beneficial because they helped me see how others approached their Action Plans, helping me see my plan from a different view. It helped me think outside of the box and introduced me to ideas I hadn't even thought of, let alone considered.

After that, we had lunch-delicious pizza and soda. Then we went outside to take our group photo, and of course the sun chose to be in our faces. When we checked into the Symposium on Day 1, we signed up for two workshops. I chose facilitating a meeting because my Plan is to be president of the club, which involves heavy facilitating. I also chose Effective Communication with Administration because it is important, not only in a school setting, but in a business setting as well.

We were released after the two activities, leaving just over four hours of free time to roam the city. Since it was my birthday, everyone let me choose where to go, which was hard for me since I am not the type of person to force an activity on someone. We ended up getting quesadillas  suitable for the chilly weather, and going to the local CVS to get playing cards. We walked all the way back to the hotel and hung out. We explored the hotel, played a million games, and truly had fun.

I am so tired but I don't want to fall asleep and let this day end. It hurts me to think that tomorrow, this will all be over, but I know I will keep strong connections to the 21 girls that changed my life.

Symposium Saturday

I awoke this morning at almost eight, hurrying to get dressed and go downstairs and get breakfast. In the dining hall, there was a buffet filled with muffins, fruit salad, juices, and bagels; a delicious spread. I made good conversation with my friends and happily awaited for the buses to arrive.
When I first saw Brown, my heart lifted. I missed the campus so much and so many memories flooded back. I smiled and my eyes brightened. Our skill building workshops took place in the Engineering building, which was filled with many auditoriums. The entire group met in an auditorium and were greeted by an alumni panel. The alumni were Leadership Institute alumni who spoke to us about their Action Plans!
Irene Rojas-Carroll: Everyone who reads this blog should know Irene, and if you do not, you have not been reading closely enough! Irene took Women and Leadership in Summer 2010. Her Action Plan was to tackle bullying and homophobia at El Cerrito High School through our school's GSA, which Irene was president of in her junior and senior years of high school. To combat the homophobic slurs and bullying, Irene designed freshman through senior classroom workshops that would educate the students about LGBTQ issues. About eight to ten GSA members participated in the workshops. Irene got more confident with her project and realized she couldn't do everything on her own. Her Action Plan made GSA stronger. Irene's timeless leadership definitely helped to lower the homophobic slurs at our school; I do not hear them in the hallways as often as I did before she implemented her Action Plan. Irene is currently a freshman at Brown University.

Chris Davis: Chris took a Documentary Film course at Brown. In Zambia, majority of the population suffers from extreme poverty and many children are left orphaned. Chris and his siblings took tennis lessons and began sending their spare tennis rackets and shoes to Zambia. Now they help 700-800 kids. His old elementary school has been a huge help in helping the program grow. Chris is a junior in high school.

Kara Lim: Kara took Leadership and Global Development at Brown in Summer 2006.  Her Action Plan consisted of going to Tibet twice and helping children and orphans aged from 9-19. She helped them draw and write their stories, and hopes to publish a book with their works. Kara also wants to help tutor Tibetans in Boston. She is currently a sophomore at Wesleyan University.

Nora Katz: Nora took Leadership and Global Development at Brown in Summer 2010. Her Action Plan was to fund-raise an event to help the homeless and at-risk youth. Nora is currently a senior in high school. She gave us her top 10 tips on having an amazing Action Plan:
  • Have a good pitch
  • Be Flexible 
  • Learn to Love
  • Be Professional 
  • Embrace your personality 
  • Embrace Challenges
  • Care about the outcome
  • Be passionate and excited
  • Love every minute
  • Be excited
After the panel, we were allowed to ask questions. I asked if any of the alumni ever felt like completely giving in on their Action Plan. Lately I've been feeling discouraged and have been trying so hard to get my inspiration back. The advice that was given to be in that the project's result is going to be so rewarding. The hardest times are when you are under pressure, but you have to keep going and it's worth it to try and keep going. I value this advice.

After a break, we got into groups with those whose Action Plan topics are similar to ours. I was grouped in "Curricular and Extra Curricular School Programming." After explaining my Action Plan to the group, the advice that was given to me was to facilitate more communication meetings with the Angaza student and adult board and try to find ways to meditate myself more often when I'm under stress. Here are the other Action Plans in my group:
  • Laura - Teach a human rights course at her high school and have a club that helps raise awareness about child labor in America.
  • Dalen - Sort kitchen trash into compost at his high school
  • Jonah - Introduce a Judaic tradition of visiting the sick and offer it as community service at his high school
  • Maddie - Hold another Youth Leadership Summit focused on diversity awareness and have lunches with the diversity club 
  • Doni - Keep kids in her high school involved with sports and not on the streets
After that skill building activity, we were rewarded with a pizza lunch in the Fraunce Arch, where we later took our group picture. Here is the beautiful result:
We then walked back to the Engineering building and broke off into groups again. When we checked into Symposium, we signed up for two workshops. I signed up for Facilitating a Meeting and Stress Management.

Facilitating a Meeting was led by the lovely Dean Rose. The meeting consisted of about nine girls, and we discussed issues we'd have with meetings in the past, but also the positives of other meetings. Our meeting tips were to:
  • Be more organized
  • Make an agenda
  • Seek advice 
  • Time limits on how long a person can speak
  • No interruptions
  • Presentation of ideas
  • Good to have a discussion and make decisions 
  • Do icebreakers 
  • Parking Lot: Great ideas but they don't have to do with your agenda, but keep them stored in your mind
Stress Management was led by Laura, another Leadership Fellow. This group was much bigger, with about twenty people. We went over stressers and results of stress:

  • Violence
  • Hunger 
  • Weather
  • Homework
Results of stress:
  •  Shaking 
  • Easily distracted
  • Headaches 
  • Too much sleep
  • Weak 
  • Feeling grumpy  
We then did an exercise where we laid on the floor and relaxed our muscles. I, like most others, completely dozed off but in a relaxing way. The hilarious thing was how D'ara completely fell asleep and began snoring very loudly - simply hilarious.

The workshops were over, which meant free time! I took advantage of this and had dinner with Irene and Guadalupe in the Ratty. It was nice to eat some food and meet some of Irene and 'Lupe's college friends. After dinner, Irene and I then traveled to the LGBTQ Center, where I met more of Irene's friends. I read some books while she worked on papers for her Brown v. Board of Education course.
Irene and I had planned to watch a Spoken Word Poetry show later that evening, and we invited Mariko and 'Lupe to join us. We bumped into Donna Chung, who is not only a senior at Brown, but she is the older sister of Sharon Chung, who graduated from El Cerrito High School in 2011 with Irene! I had Journalism with Sharon last school year and enjoyed her company. Donna graduated from ECHS in 2008 and is double majoring in Education and Psychology. She also told us how she took French in high school and continued it in college, and she studied abroad during spring semester last school year in Paris, which she thoroughly enjoyed.
Sadly, Donna could not join us for the show, but I definitely enjoyed her company and testimonies about college life. At the show, Mariko and I were very lucky to bump into Tiffany, our RA and TA from the summer! We were delighted to see her.
The Spoken Word Show was inspiring. I loved the stories and was very happy to see student life at Brown - it's diverse, funny, and happy. I could definitely see myself fitting in here. I like it at Brown.
Unfortunately, Mariko and I had to leave the show early to catch the bus back to the hotel, but we definitely enjoyed the experience.

Tomorrow is the last day at Symposium, which is heartbreaking. I don't want to leave, don't want to go back to high school...I just want to enjoy life in Providence, my second home. I don't want to leave the girls again, because I'm afraid this time will really be the last time some of us ever see each other again.


Being an Ivy League Connection scholar, I've learned many lessons about presenting myself professionally, such as proper posture, how to dress for success, time management, and in my opinion the most important lesson: discipline.

When I left Brown over the summer, my friends and I found a bit of solace in knowing that we would most likely be reunited in November and yet we still bawled our eyes out at the thought of separating. Our group is roughly about 12 people, and trying to stay together while navigating the narrow streets of Providence, Rhode Island proved to be quite the problem. Thank goodness for the symposium; the workshops and lectures taught us how to effectively communicate and run meetings, which proved to be very useful in deciding where we were all going to go for our free time.

I also discussed my Action Plan, which is to organize a school-wide event similar to "Challenge Day," a social diversity workshop made famous by MTV's "If You Really Knew Me." My school's "Challenge Day" would be based on racial diversity and tension, which is a huge problem in my school. I'm looking into getting a professional speaker to come to my school and emcee the event, and setting up a committee of students to help me organize it. As long as I stay focused and professional, I expect great things from my Action Plan.

After the Symposium, students had a lot of time to explore the city and that's when the true reunion occurred. A night out in the city with my fellow Women & Leadership Ladies was well-deserved, as we all worked extremely hard to get to where we are today. A friend of ours even drove out to hang out with us even though she wasn't attending the symposium. We ate together, reminisced, laughed like crazy, and acted as if we had never separated. It feels great knowing I have yet another reason to travel around the nation, and that reason is to see these "sisters" of mine again.

Everyone wanted to hang out in one hotel room and watch the movie "Mean Girls" as a way to end the day, but knowing that I had made the ILC a promise that I'd blog daily, I had to put my feelings aside and go to my room with Rebecca to use our laptops to blog. Being in the ILC enforced discipline in me that I hadn't had before the program. I believe that if it weren't for the strict rules of blogging, I'd take the easy route of hanging out with friends. I just hope this disciplined attitude will follow me into my college years.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Simple Pleasures and a Sweet Reunion

Today I experienced autumn leaves falling off trees for the first time in my life. It made me think of the many simple pleasures we take for granted every day.

How often is it that we, in the Bay Area, take time out of our day to embrace the cold weather as a sign that the holidays are coming up? Many of us, myself included, find ourselves so busy with our lives that we may see the transition from warm to cold and rainy weather as inconvenient and unnecessary. I'm pretty sure that people who live on the East Coast would feel the same way about the falling leaves. Rather than embracing the physical transition between Summer and Winter, they would probably curse the trees during the season of Autumn for getting in their way of going on with their everyday lives. Being from the West Coast, I never got to see this "dance" of the bright orange leaves in the wind but I was lucky enough to have front row tickets to this majestic seasonal event during breakfast with Ms. Kronenberg, Rebecca, and Adrianne. That was an excellent start to an extremely eventful day.

We went on an hour-long drive to New London, Connecticut, where we took a college tour at Connecticut College. As expected from East Coast colleges, it was characterized by rustic brick buildings. The college itself is currently undergoing construction; a new natural sciences building is being built and it will be open to students in Fall of 2012. This sounds rather perfect for a student looking to study zoology and animal behavior like me. :)
The best part of the day had to be the reunion of my Women and Leadership class back at the hotel. It was described by everyone as surreal, AWESOME (D'Ara's catch phrase), and nearly tear-worthy. We were all just so happy to be back together and we skyped and called the people who weren't able to attend the event just to let them know how much we hoped they were with us today. My Women and Leadership group is so closely-knit that we're known by other courses to be "the only class that cried when the session was over" and frankly, I'm really proud of that title.

"Tomorrow," as quoted by one of the administrators of the Symposium, "will be an 'action-packed' day."

And Symposium Begins (-:

I awoke this morning to Josephine and Rebecca walking down the hallway for breakfast, which made me realize that I should've been up an hour before to get ready! I shot up, brushed my teeth, got dressed, fixed my hair, and was downstairs in ten minutes flat. Note to self: set my alarm! (-:

Ms. Kronenberg, Josie, Rebecca, and I enjoyed breakfast in the Hotel Cafe. Rebecca and I both ordered French toast, and it was quite good. After we finished our food, we started the hour long drive to Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut, where we would be touring and then attending an information session.
Might I add that the weather was very windy, harsh, and just cold in general! I'm happy I had gloves, scarves, and a good jacket to keep me warm...barely. Shivering, the four of us walked to the admissions office and began our tour. Our tour guide was Patrick, who is a sophomore and is double-majoring in mathematics and economics.

Interesting facts about Connecticut College: 
  • There are seven distributive requirements, one for each subject: physical/biological sciences, mathematics, social sciences, literature, fine arts, philosophy/religious studies, and historical studies 
  • 9-1 student ratio, with about 18-19 students per class. There are no TAs at Connecticut College; all classes are taught by professors
  • AP scores are accepted by the school. If you took an AP level foreign language and got a score of 4 or 5 on the AP test, you only have to take one semester of that same language. If you're starting college with a new foreign language or didn't take an AP test in foreign language, you have to take two semesters of foreign language
  • Shain Library is the biggest library on campus. Students can also acquire books from Trinity College and Wesleyan University 
  • There are four coffee shops on campus and cafes with lots of coffee - apparently coffee is very popular in not only New Haven, but also New London!
  • Students are given five days to take all of their finals at the end of the semester 
  • There are 24 residential halls and apartment style dorms for upperclassmen 
  • Studying abroad is very popular at Connecticut College, and most students travel to about three countries through the study abroad program 
  • The dorms are pretty big and look very cozy! (-: 
  • Connecticut College is an SAT (I & II)/ACT optional school, meaning you only have to send in your SAT Reasoning, SAT II, and/or ACT tests if you feel that they reflect you and can boost your chances into being accepted into the college. If you don't feel that they reflect you and will not help you, you can choose not to send the tests. 
Quote from Scott Alexander, our information session speaker:
"I'd rather know about what your progress was during 4 years than on a 3 1/2 hour test." 

I was definitely impressed with Connecticut College. All the students there seemed very friendly and happy, the scenery was simply gorgeous, and I definitely enjoyed their academic program. I am interested in their music program and was happy to pick up some brochures about it. I am definitely considering applying to this fine college come next fall.
After coming back and having a delicious Chinese food lunch, the four of us returned to Hotel Providence, where we happily reunited with D'ara, who took Women and Leadership with us. I am also delighted to say that D'ara is my roommate, along with Elie, who is from Equador. She took Global Development and I had a couple of conversations with her when it was summer.

11 out of the 21 girls who took Women and Leadership are at Symposium. I find that absolutely amazing that we are continuing to work on our Action Plans. Being able to see the girls ago is just great; it's like July 22nd (the last day of Summer@Brown) was minutes before. It is fantastic; too much to put into words.

After socializing - two guys have been introduced into our circle, Evan and Guy! They're hilarious - we all sat down for dinner in one of the hotel dining rooms. It was a buffet style dinner, so I helped myself to lots of bread, pasta, and mashed potatoes (so unhealthy, I know!). It was also great to see some of my friends who took Global Development and Conflict Resolution. Even though I was sad not to see some others, we called Abi and Cynthia Z. and skyped with Mackenzie later on, which was great.

We started off Symposium by playing mingling games:
  • Human Knot 
  • Story Behind Your Name 
  • Prompted Questions 
  • Rock Paper Scissors Competition 
It was very, very fun. There was also a dance performance by a group called Case Closed, who told their life stories by improvising within their choreography. After they were finished, they held a panel and gave us advice about following our dreams.

I'd also like to mention Dean Rose and Kisa. Seeing them both made me so happy; I have missed them so much. They are both huge inspirations and have always inspired me whenever I am having challenges with my Action Plan.
After the activities ended, I got settled and spent some quality time with my roommates. I also went down to Evan and Guy's room, where we and the other girls socialized and watch a bit of Mean Girls. What an exciting night!

I know that tomorrow will bring more activities and more fun to come. It is the only full fledged day we will have of Brown, and I am so ready for it. I have missed Brown; it is my second home.

Symposium day 2: The Brownies Are Back in the Oven

I think my nerves got the best of me because my sleep wasn't great. I woke up several times before ultimately getting up at 7 AM. We christened the shower and got dressed, arriving in the lobby not a minute past 8 AM. The weather was better than yesterday, the wind was painful but it wasn't that cold and the sun was out. It was shockingly similar to the Bay Area's weather, except leaves were falling.

After breakfast we headed on out to Connecticut College. On the hour and a half ride, I promptly fell asleep, only to be jerked awake by the speed bumps of the campus parking lot. To be completely honest, I was skeptical about this trip because I had already made a college list, and I was unsure about adding another one to it. However, I was jumping for joy at the end and am happily going to apply to it. The tour was amazing and our information session was delightful!

On the way back home, Josie and I read a fascinating piece of literature. Ms. Kronenberg is a great driver and I am glad she came with us. She is an absolute delight!

Shortly after lunch, Brownies started pouring in and the reunion began. After worrying if our rooms would be given up to the ones coming in, we worked with the hotel staff and ended up keeping our rooms. Josephine and I have a roommate, Emma, who is so nice, but only met her an hour before curfew.

After dinner, we had a performance by Case Closed, a dance group working with kids to keep them off the street. Marlie, from the Women & Leadership course, knew the members of the group, so we got a little insider knowledge. Once that concluded, we hung out in the lobby and in the rooms of friends we made until curfew. Today was a long day because I was so tired, but tomorrow is going to be even longer, especially with my birthday celebration after the activities.

Best birthday ever.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

All hail the Brownies, take 2!

Who would've thought that Josephine, Rebecca, and myself would be back at Brown, three months after our wonderful Women and Leadership course ended? Well, at first I couldn't believe it, but then it was all finally happening. Right now I'm sitting in Hotel Providence, enjoying the view and this beautiful night. It's enchanting and nostalgic. I remember all the great times that I had during the summer, and even though I will only be in Providence for four days, one of them already finished with, I'm absolutely excited.

In September, the Leadership Institute invited all the Summer@Brown 2011 students to a three day Symposium on Social Action. Essentially, it is a continuation and check-up on our Action Plans. I applied and was ecstatic when I got my acceptance email in early October. Since then, it's been planning, planning, and more planning! The Ivy League Connection sponsored three of the Brownies to attend this Symposium, and I'd like to thank ILC for sponsoring us once again and truly believing that we were bringing something back to our communities and growing as people.

To update everyone, my Action Plan is to educate my high school about the achievement gap and do more college readiness workshops through Angaza, a club that promotes academic excellence and the importance of going to college. I am the president of Angaza, a position I hold very highly. My Action Plan has gone through bumps while I settled into my leadership role, but it is finally heading on the right path.

I awoke at three in the morning California time, reading to go to Symposium! ILC sent us out a day early, which I'm very grateful for. This way, we won't be completely exhausted when most people arrive on Friday. After my mother and I picked up Ms. Kronenberg, who will be our chaperone, we headed to El Cerrito High School, where we met up with Josephine and Rebecca. We were approached by a white stretch limo - ILC'ers go in style!
After a quick ride to the airport, Josephine and I checked in our bags (Rebecca and Ms. Kronenberg had carry-ons). After getting a "Starbucks breakfast", we boarded the plane to Las Vegas. After a half hour layover there, we boarded a plane to Providence!
And then, we were finally in Providence. Being back felt so relaxing and brought back so many memories. I absolutely loved the feeling I got when our plane landed. Even though it was raining, it felt like home.

After retrieving luggage and getting our rental car, the four of us traveled to Hotel Providence. Even the desk clerk remembered the four of us, which I find incredible. Madeline and I have our own hotel rooms and Josephine and Rebecca are sharing a room. I like having my own room; it's nice. The nicer thing is, it's next door to Josie and Rebecca's, so if I need anything, I don't have to travel too far to find it!

Finally, it came time for the special dinner: Ms. Kronenberg, Guy Sanchez, Elizabeth Hart, the three of us, anddddddd....Irene Rojas-Carroll, Cynthia Fong, Kiana Ward, Guadalupe Morales, and Elizabeth Gonzales! I was ecstatic to see all of them.

The dinner at Siena on Federal Hill was just great. I had a great meal and it was so good to talk to everybody, especially Irene. I consider Irene a mentor and we've had great times together; I can see how much she's grown since I last saw her in August. I had really good conversations with Kiana, Elizabeth, and 'Lupe about college choices, how they're doing at Brown, and essay prompts.
Tonight was an unforgettable night, and I am so excited for what's to come tomorrow!
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