Sunday, July 10, 2011

Red Lanyards Everywhere

Since last night would be our last night in the wonderful Hotel Providence, the Brownies took the opportunity to have a huge blogging party/slumber party/movie night in the "W&L sorority"! We watched movies, played card games, had a pillow fight, and had lots of fun just spending time with one another.

Even though the party was very fun, we all fell asleep at about three in the morning. I groggily woke five hours later, and it suddenly dawned on me: today was the Brown brunch at the alumni house. Then I remembered I was giving a speech - a speech I had worked hard on for very two weeks, doing grueling research and editing constantly with the help of my mother.

One thing I do not like to admit about myself if that I suffer from stage fright. Most people do not believe me when I say that, because when I do public speak, everything is fine in the end, but to me, the whole experience is nerve-wracking. I tried to relax because I knew Mariko, who was also giving a speech, was just as nervous as I was, if not more.

The girls and I took showers, dressed formally, and headed downstairs. While I thought we were going to be driving to the brunch, we were forced to walk due to a triathalon. Being with the group was nice, however, the actual act of walking was not. We had to walk up a very steep hill and across the Brown campus - which was absolutely breathtaking - to reach the alumni house, which was hard on many of the girls feet, including mine, due to heeled/wedge heeled shoes. Despite this painful obstacle, we made it to the alumni house on time.

The minute we entered, I smelled food: and not just food, but really good smelling food. I turned to my right and saw platters of breakfast meat (sausages, bacon), muffins, bagels, fresh fruit and juice, and cooks serving omelets. I was immediately impressed and could not wait to start eating.

Waiting for us were Brown alums and admissions officers. We also got to see Mercedes again and Ruth Rose, the co-founder of the Brown Leadership Institute! After getting breakfast, I sat with Erin, Caroline, Christopher, who works in the Brown admissions office and graduated from Brown this past May with a major in neuroscience and Natasha, a Brown admissions officer who graduated from Brown last year. We had a very interesting conversation regarding Brown admissions, Christopher and Natasha's love for Brown, and their backgrounds. We also gave them information about us, for example, what we wanted to concentrate on in college.

After an hour of eating and talking, we were lead into the auditorium, where Guy Sanchez gave introductions and welcomes. I opened up the itinerary and to my absolute dread found out I was the first guest speaker. Butterflies overpowered my stomach and I tried to think peacefully, but my mind was racing. I was stunned when Mr. Sachez finished speaking relatively quickly and introduced me as the first speaker.

I quickly took my speech out of my folder and gently laid my folder and purse on Cindy's lap (I was sitting next to her). I slowly went up to the podium, looked at the crowd, and simply said, "Hello. Today I will be giving what I like to call 'The Action Speech'." My speech starts out like this:

Two hundred years ago, South Carolina's Bishop Robert Smith one stated, "Action is the highest perfection and drawing forth of the utmost power, vigor, and activity of a man's nature." Actions speak louder than words. However, can words speak louder than actions when one is defending their equal rights? Women's rights weave their ways into many vocal debates of power, vigor, and action. Throughout civilization, religious codes and governmental laws have restricted women from their manner of dress to the ability to vote. Male dominance in religion and politics has either silenced the voices of women in many ways, or strengthened the wish for independence in some. Did women's strive for action overpower their fear of being arrested or confined to a mental asylum? 

I then talked about Annie Smith Peck, the courageous woman who applied to Brown when it was still a male only institution. I informed the crowd of Ms. Peck's background and position in the suffragist movement. Then history of the Edwardian era suffragist movement is given, along with history of Pembroke college, the all-women's institution of Brown University from 1891 to 1971.

I then stopped directly talking about women's rights and discussed women leaders in society and the position of leadership:

In the present day, women leaders span all over the globe. They might have just ended a talk show that spanned for twenty-five years, like Oprah Winfrey. They might be a world-renowned actress and activist, like Angelina Jolie. They might be the first African American First Lady, like Michelle Obama. Or they might be a powerful LGBTQ activist and rising Brown student, like Irene Rojas-Carroll.

I ended my speech with a powerful quote for Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American woman elected onto Congress and the first woman to run for the Democratic presidential nomination:

In Shirley Chisholm's breathtaking novel "The Good Fight", she states, "I ran because someone had to do it first. In this country everybody is supposed to be able to run for President, but that's never been really true. I ran because most people think the country is not ready for a black candidate, not ready for a woman candidate. Someday..." 

As I finished the last quote, I saw something that startled me for a second. The room was [literally, in reality] split into two sides with two sets of chairs. On one side, I saw my family: my father (who WAS there), my younger sister Monica, and my mother. I had called my mother earlier, because her voice always calms me. I was wearing the dress and jacket she had worked so hard to sew for me, because by wearing it, I felt like they were there with me. I spoke at a steady pace, which is what my sister advised me to do. They were all sitting there, smiling at me, and looking so proud of me.

On the other side was my second family: Ms. Larson, Ms. Williams, and everyone in Brown Session 1 and Brown Session 2. They all looked happy and intuitive, which made me smile. We have grown to become such a family, and I honestly would not want to spend this experience with any other people. I love all of them and we are each other's support system, which is absolutely amazing.

And then I finished speaking. My reality came back to me, and everyone started clapping. I took a deep breath and sat down in my seat. Mariko's speech was after mine, and it was vastly different than mine. Mariko took the time to thank the ILC sponsors, explain what the program meant to her, and how she hoped the Women and Leadership class would affect her. I was very happy that our speeches were different; as I was initially hoping they were because I wanted to see the perspective of someone else. Jason Sello, an assistant professor of Chemistry at Brown, gave his speech after Mariko's. It was interesting hearing his testimony of how Brown was an amazing school and how he worked very hard to get to where he was in life.

Overall, the Brown brunch was a complete success. It was a great way to start off the morning and meet new people, and in the end, I'm so glad I got to give a speech.

After saying goodbyes, we walked back to the hotel, where we finished packing and piled our stuff into two SUV's. Unfortunately, Brown Session 1 had to stay at the hotel and could not come with us to help us check in, which was disappointing and very sad. We all gave them very tight hugs and some tears might've been exchanged - I certainly almost cried! - but in the back of my head, I knew that it was time for them to end their adventure and go home and for us to move into the dorms. Erin started singing "So long, farewell" and the rest of the group joined in as we waved and drove off to Brown.

Due to the triathlon, we had to take a detour, but we made it! After taking our luggage out of the trunk, I said goodbye to my dad. I was very sad to see him go, as I could see he was so proud of not just me, but every single one of us Brownies. On the way back to the hotel after the brunch, I asked my dad if he ever wanted to go to college on the East Coast. He stated no, but because he never got the exposure to the East Coast like myself, my sister, and the ILC kids have. After taking the college tours, I realized how important the exposure to the East Coast really is. I thank my Dad with all my heart for giving me this amazing, wonderful, life-changing opportunity and exposing me to the East Coast. It'll be hard not seeing him for two weeks, but I know he'll be rooting not just for me, but for all the ILC kids.

After all the goodbyes - it was hard to say goodbye to Ms. Larson as well - we had slight confusion finding where to check in, but we finally did it. After getting our lanyards, we were all excited to find out that we are all in Harkness House. We're kind of spread out over the house, but that is fine by us. I hurried into the building to find out if I had a roommate or not.

When I reached my room - 301 - a girl with Brown hair and hazel eyes stepped up and said, "Are you my roomie?!" Her energy about moving in was so nice, and I was excited to find out she WAS my roomie! Her name is Kaylyn, and she is a rising junior from Ohio. She is going to be taking Women and Leadership with me, which is very exciting. She had decorated her side of the room already, and helped me get unpacked and organize my desk. We found out we think alike and have a lot in common. I could not ask for a better roomie - you cannot get any better than Kaylyn!

After about thirty minutes, we were taken outside and played a couple of introductory games with the first half of the 3rd floor RA, Tiffany. The games were fun and it was great to meet the rest of the girls on my floor, who were really excited to be at Brown. We then took a quick tour, where we found out where one of half of the Leadership institute will be taking class and where the other half of the institution will be staying. We then went to the auditorium, where we were given an orientation and learned the many rules of the program, which were very straightforward.

We then were dismissed to go to the V-Dubb, the dining hall, for dinner. I met so many nice people on the way to and in there! I ended up eating dinner with Josie, Cindy, Ava, Mariko, Rebecca, a couple of girls we had met, Selena and Grace, and two boys, Hans and an English boy. We all made lovely conversation. There was LOTS of food in the dining hall, and in my opinion, it was pretty good. I had two large helpings of pasta and an ice cream cone for dessert.

We had about an hour to walk around and get ready for the ice cream social. I went outside and was shocked to see how many people were walking around! It was a warm evening and everyone was having fun. I enjoyed ice cream, met many people in the line to see a private screening of Harry Potter 7: The Deathly Hallows, Part 2 (!!!!!!!!!!), and then signed up to go to Newport Beach on the weekend. I made many new connections during the two hours I was out.

After the ice cream social - and intense game of Twister - ended, I went back to my dorm to rest my feet a bit before going to the RA meeting. My floor's RA is Katherine, and she is very sweet but very strict about the rules. After playing a name game - we said our names and then stated the story behind them, we were told more in depth about the rules. One new rule that is definitely scary is that if you are kicked out of Summer@Brown, you must note that on your Common Application for any school and explain why. Talk about mortifying.

Women and Leadership starts tomorrow, and I am too excited to sleep! However, it is getting late, so I must. All hail the Brownies!

1 comment:

  1. I feel so honored to have been included in your speech! Thank you!! (I posted on your Facebook wall, too!)

    The speech itself reads beautifully. Great job! I wish I could have heard it.


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