Saturday, June 4, 2011

Ten Days and Counting - The Final Orientation Before Departure

Time is ticking ‘til takeoff for Rhode Island. Mr. Ramsey, Ms. Larson, Kathleen, and I have been working on dinner reservations and contacting alumni for when we get to the East Coast. Simon Hong and Jim Sinai (both from the Brown Dinner at One Market) are currently helping us find Brown alumni in the Boston area to come to dinner and talk about their experiences at Brown. It is very interesting trying to contact people I have never heard of or seen before. It is even more interesting making reservations to restaurants on the other side of the country.

On Thursday night, all the Ivy League participants and at least one of their parents attended a second orientation at the El Cerrito High School library. After opening comments, Mr. Ramsey introduced Don Ellis, his co-founder of the Ivy League Press. Mr. Ellis talked about how the students in the Ivy League Connection have the opportunity to write their own books and poems to get them published. The whole idea sounds exciting: a published high school student. It sounds like something that I would like to do. Later, Don collected parent contact information and soon our groups and chaperones were individually introduced by Mr. Ramsey and Ms. Kronenberg. When Brown Cohort #1 was announced first, I stood up with my group and I felt a pang of excitement. I realized that I could not wait to get to Brown.

After a recap of Don’s tutorial, we broke from the library into our travel groups. Brown Cohort #1 went to room 200, the Spanish/Radio Room which was “the coolest classroom at El Cerrito High” according to Ms. Larson. The modern hip-hop artwork and relaxed atmosphere validated her opinion. We signed paperwork about blogging and being ambassadors of our school district which we gave to Vince Rhea, the Executive Director of K-12 Schools. Ms. Larson then proceeded to pass out a packet that contained the following:

  • Complete trip itinerary
  • Flight information for Southwest Airlines
  • Car rental receipt for a sleek, black Cadillac Escalade (Ms. Larson told us to bring our cool sunglasses)
  • Arrival dates and times

A current Brown student came to our breakout session to talk about her experience as a former Ivy League Connection student. Cynthia Fong just finished her freshman year at Brown and she loved it. She expressed the major difference between high school and college and the challenges students will face in their academic futures. She wished us the best for our trip and urged us to get to know our professors to feel more comfortable in our classes.

I won’t give away our itinerary just yet, but I have to say that we have a nice plan set out for us. Thank you to Mr. Ramsey, Ms. Kronenberg, and Ms. Larson for arranging our schedules and allowing us some relaxation time while we study.

Packing will begin this week as the countdown to Brown is t-minus 10 days. I contacted Don about loaning some items that I will definitely need at Brown. I am so grateful that he is stocked with laptop security cables, surge protectors, and desk lamps.

Andrew and I excitedly talk about leaving for Brown University every day in Spanish class at school. I am looking forward to a month living with my Cohort #1 family. The second orientation was a success and we left with doubled eagerness to begin our journey. I’d like to extend my appreciation to everyone that has contributed to the Ivy League Connection. They have made us their top priority to have a great experience on the East Coast. Keep reading! My next blog will be from Rhode Island.

Our Last Reminder

The setting is the El Cerrito HS library. Everyone is already seated, but it is still half an hour from starting. We converse with our cohorts. Mr. Ramsey announces 5 minutes until we start; one student still has not come. It is 6:30 everyone is here and we begin. An ironic juxtaposition of the “No talking in the library” and the speakers.
Important information should always be written on the back of your hand.
The message is the same; you must blog, you must follow rules, you must be prepared and you must never be late under any circumstances. In essence that was orientation. We did however receive more explanation of what we are expected to do and what this program is not, and we got to speak in person with students who went last year to our program.

One of the great opportunities I had was to get an idea of what the Brown class will be like. I got information from the two students that went to Brown in past years. I got further details from Austin Long when he came up to me and asked if I had any questions, while my cohorts got their paperwork organized. I know now that it is very humid, we will have a lot of free time minus the time for our itinerary that Ms. Larson, Kathleen and Erin devised and the class is similar to programs offered at Brown.

“Have a great summer” and I breath I sigh of anticipation and relief. It is only a week and three days, and yes, I am counting it down because as soon as it comes it will be over. After it is done, then what will I do when I want the world to know what I am doing. Probably after the ILC I will need a blog just so then I can express myself as I do to you. Soon I will have to blog every day and I just hope I don’t run out of interesting things to write about and will have enough time to give detailed accounts.

Counting Down the Days

The Ivy League Connection orientation took place on Thursday, June 2, 2011 at the El Cerrito High School library. I had mixed feelings leading up to the event. On the one hand I felt anxious because I knew that I had missed so much more than all of my cohorts. I was also feared that a two hour meeting would only add to the stress of finals week. On the other hand, I was extremely excited to go to my first event with the entire Ivy League Connection, including the parents, chaperones and administrators. We were also joined by former Ivy League Connection participants who are currently attending Ivy League Schools. This was extremely inspirational to hear about the successful outcome of the program.

Everybody showed up on time or early (most likely because of the threats that we would be kicked out of the program if we were “one second late”), which was good because it meant that we were able to start right at 6:30. My initial worries about having missed information at the previous events were put to rest after Madeline Kronenberg and Charles Ramsey’s thorough information session. Madeline Kronenberg emphasized that although this scholarship opportunity was a great gift, it was not a gift without strings attached. Some of those “strings” included blogging and giving back to the program and to the community upon return. Mr. Ramsey also emphasized the uniqueness of the Ivy League Connection experience, especially the amount of support we receive compared to others attending the Ivy League summer schools.

The guests made the meeting truly special and inspiring. The first guest was Don Ellis, a publisher who joined with Charles Ramsey to create the domain for the “Ivy League Connection Press”, which will publish the poetry and writings of selected Ivy League Connection participants. This was extremely impressive and exciting, considering that many adult writers never have the opportunity to become published. The other guests were former Ivy League Connection participants who are currently attending Ivy League schools. Two of them, Cynthia Fong and Kianna Ward, also went to El Cerrito High School, attended ILC programs at Brown, and now are students at Brown as well. Kianna also did the Women and Leadership program, so she came with the Brown II group when we went into our breakout groups.

In our breakout groups, Ladonna Williams (our chaperone) and Charles Ramsey (who will be accompanying us in the first five days of our trip) went over the itinerary. Within our first five days, we will be attending four dinners and two lunches with admissions officers, alumni, and the head of the leadership institute at Brown, and the Women and Leadership teacher, Lisa Takesue. We will also be going to information sessions and tours at Dartmouth, Bowdoin, Wellesley, and Harvard. Though some of the girls seemed intimidated with such a packed schedule in our first five days, I was thrilled. Hopefully I will be just as thrilled by the end of that fifth day…

We then had all of our questions answered by Kianna Ward. She told us about Harkness House, which is the dorm we will be living in, and what items that the dorm rooms may not provide. She talked about the best places to eat in Providence, and what things we should make sure to see. She also mentioned the East Bay Bike path; I hope to be able to rent a bike when I get there so that I can get around Providence more easily in my free time. Finally she talked about the class itself. Kisa Takesue, our teacher, is not actually a professor but the dean of student activities. She said that the main objectives of the class are for us to become comfortable speaking in front of a group, and also to create a “capstone project” which is an opportunity to utilize the leadership skills that we acquired to give back to our communities.

Overall the meeting was a success. It was extremely informative and inspirational. I learned more about what the program was offering, and how I need to give back. Now it’s a matter of counting down the days.

Hey Dad, I'm Not Crazy!

At 5:50 last Thursday night, my dad was absolutely convinced that I was out of my mind. I rushed him out of the house while our dinner was still on the stove, all the while explaining that when Mr. Ramsey, Ms. Kronenberg, and Mr. Gosney request your presence for an ILC orientation at 6:30 PM, they really mean 6:15, or possibly 6:00. (This might be challenging when I need to arrive at El Cerrito High around 3:30 AM to take a shuttle to the airport!) When we arrived at the ECHS library we were half an hour early, but there was already a host of people there. We signed in, sat down, and settled in for a long evening full of important announcements, inspiring speeches, and last-minute scheduling adjustments.

Ms. Kronenberg and Mr. Ramsey opened the meeting by briefly speaking about attendance and punctuality. Amazingly, they were commending us about our promptness, as opposed to scolding unlucky latecomers for tardiness. This was no small feat; the orientation encompassed every group in the ILC, so there were that many more people who might potentially be late. After these comments, everyone settled down to business. Ms. Kronenberg reminded us about our responsibilities as ambassadors of the WCCUSD and participants of the Ivy League Connection. Despite her teasing tone, Ms. Kronenberg was quite serious. I know I’ll be sure to blog daily, to prevent her from chasing after me! Of course, I was planning to do that anyway.

Eventually, we split up into our breakout groups. Ms. Williams, our chaperone for Brown Session II, and Kiana Ward, an ECHS alum and a rising junior at Brown University, made sure that we were well prepared for all that we might encounter over the summer. Mr. Ramsey, who will be staying with us for the six or so days before class starts, dropped in to discuss our busy schedule. We will be touring college campuses every day from Wednesday to Saturday!

After our breakout sessions we all returned to the ECHS library. Ava, Caroline, and I attempted to establish a good time of day to go running while at Brown (early in the morning!). There were a few last reminders, and we were free to go. Despite its length, the orientation was one of my favorite ILC events because all the various ILC cohorts attended. It is fun and inspiring to see all of the other students and hear about their programs.

As I left the meeting, my mind was whirling. I was thinking about what I would write in my blog, deciding where I would find crucial items for this summer like surge protectors, and whether or not I would need to borrow a desk lamp from Don. Most of all, I was anticipating my trip to Brown, which begins in just over one month!

Real Time Web Analytics