Monday, July 11, 2011

A Taste of College

Today was the longest and most challenging days of the entire trip. It was my first day of class, and I had no idea what to expect. I entered a room with about twenty girls, and sat down randomly amongst them. Right away Kisa Takesue, our teacher, introduced herself and what the class was about. She went over the syllabus, and we became aware that we were going to have nightly reading, journal entries, three projects, and an action plan for our capstone project. She also wanted to make sure that we were aware of a few concepts. She stated that there was no such thing as a perfect leader, and advised us to get rid of the concept of perfection because it inhibits one from taking risks. She also stated that leadership comes through meaning. Finally she challenged us to look at all topics through the lense of women and gender, from ovarian cancer to environmental issues.
Next we did some team building and ice breakers. Right away I was shocked to see so many girls who participated so strongly in class and who voiced their oppinions as much as I do. At first I was worried that so many strong leaders would clash and cause conflict, but by the end of the day I was extremely impressed how well everybody was able to communicate and cooperate to be productive.
After lunch we were given a paper with statistics about various issues concerning gender, and were asked to guess whether they were true or false with the person sitting next to us. When we went over them, it was interesting to see the different guesses, the reasoning behind those predictions, and the true statistics that Kisa presented to the class after each one. After that we went over ground rules, and then we discussed leadership values. These values seemed to be the theme of the day, as they were brought up again in the leadership workship from 7-9 PM, and also in the assigned reading and journal writing.
I faced two challenges today, and both of them challenged each other. The first one was meeting new people. In class it was easy to talk to the other girls in such a controlled and forced environment, and all of them seemed to be incredibly intellegent and friendly. However, as soon as lunch started, I was again faced with teh challenge of stepping outside of my comfort zone and trying to meet new people, always with the fear of rejection in the back of my mind. When I finally gathered my courage, they all responded really well and seemed to try their best to be inclusive. All of the girls had their own stories, came from all over the country (and one from Hong Kong), had different accents and were different ages. Despite all the differences, however, I felt that we all had a lot in common, especially in regards to our mentalities and approaches to academics.
The conflicting challenge became very apparent later in the night. I spent so much time trying to get to know people and develope relationships that I made my classroom assignments a second priority. I later regretted this, as I wasn't able to finish until 1:30 AM. If anything, this experience will truly teach me about time management in college, because I am now finding that it is much different from managing your time in highschool.
Although I had some low parts of the day, it ended on a high. I was able to meet some new people, and I truly enjoyed the class. I already know that this will be a fantastic learning experience, both academic and social. I am finally getting a true taste of college.

First Day of School in the Middle of Summer

I’m proud to say that I’ve survived my first day of the Summer@Brown program, and it was truly one of the best days of my whole summer.

Upon waking up at 7 in the morning, my roommate Georgia and I played music to set the energetic mood of an eventful day. After getting ready for the day, I met up with about 10 girls from the same floor as my dorm and we all ate breakfast at the closest cafeteria to Harkness, the Ratty. We met up with more people on the way there. There were so many girls wanting to eat together that we didn’t have enough room on one table for all of us, so we all had to eat on side-by-side tables. We ended up hanging waiting for one table to finish before we left. The instant bond formed between the other students and I was evident.

Class started at 9:30 AM. My fellow ILCers and I were reunited with our professor, Kisa Takesue. To my surprise, she remembered almost all of our names. It was then that I fully appreciated having the opportunity to dine with her a week ago before having entered her classroom. Kisa’s class of 22 strong women had finally arrived its starting point. We started off with introduction after introduction, and a lot of name exercises. They proved to be useful because I now remember the names of all of my classmates and I can openly say hello to them around campus.

We played games of “this or that” that involved leadership. The simplest things were used as complex metaphors that were interpreted similarly or extremely differently by each of the individuals. For example, we were asked when describing our leadership styles, “Would you see yourself as a hammer or a nail?” Although it may sound like nonsense, Kisa knew we would all interpret the question as whether we would be the leader, who initiates the productivity in a project, or as a partner, who is glad to take after the leader’s words and do what they say. This as well as many other questions were asked, and different activities were done that encouraged us to learn more about ourselves as women and as leaders.

Although today was the first day of class, the girls immediately formed a type of sisterhood in which we would selflessly support other girls who we’ve only met for less than a day. New friends of mine loaned me money when I needed to launder my clothes. More new friends accompanied Cynthia to the basement when we were scared to go alone. This immediate bond shared by the ladies in Kisa’s course is yet to blossom.

A New Home

Today was the first day of class! I woke up this morning feeling totally disoriented. I checked my alarm clock and attempted to drift back to sleep, but I kept waking up to door slamming and the noise of feet pattering down the hallway. When I woke up for real, about an hour later, I got dressed and headed down to breakfast at the nearby dining hall.

Of course, class was probably the best part of my day. Although I was initially very nervous, Dean Kisa was amazing at putting us at ease. She is welcoming, funny, and kind. (Also, she has an awesome laugh!) Today we learned about leadership and female status in society. Wow, what a shocker! :)

Learning about female status in society was fascinating because I had never gone that in depth with this topic before. Some of the statistics we learned were pretty horrifying, while others very encouraging (regarding the progress of women in society). I think I’ll enjoy learning about this topic more than I had even originally anticipated.

We also played name games and other icebreakers in class. I had fun chatting with people during activities and during meals and getting to know interesting facts about them.

Since “women” is only one half of the class, we also covered the topic of “leadership.” We explored the concept of leadership and what it means generally as well as what it means to each of us individually. We have lots of class discussions and I love hearing what everyone else thinks. I am working on participating a lot in class and improving my own leadership skills.

After dinner we had a Leadership Institute community night. These events are mandatory and encompass the entire Leadership Institute, as you might expect. We then break off into our classes and have workshops led by our leader fellows, RAs from our dorms who act as TAs in various classes. Our leader fellows are Tiffany (I talked briefly about her yesterday) and Laura, two very friendly and helpful college students. (Actually, Laura may have just graduated.) I think Tiffany is especially interesting because when we did class activities she seemed to share some similar characteristics with me, but she appears much more confident and outspoken. I aspire to become a little more like her in that way.

Today was a great day. It was especially interesting because of the diversity of the students here. I now have a friend from Rhode Island who grew up in Cape Verdia, an island nation off the West African coast. She is fluent in Creole, which I thought was amazing. I also have a classmate from Hong Kong and floor mates from Madrid, London, and Ecuador. This is only a few of the international students, not to mention the wide variety of accents that I hear from the United States.

Beyond My Expectations

My day at Brown University was the most pleasant experience I have had so far. It truly was an amazing experience; getting to know people from all over the world and being able to actually RELATE to them! Granted there are a few fun differences (such as different slang) but it just makes the introduction process more fun!

There is a beautiful bond between the girls who live in Harkness. I cannot even begin to describe the amazement I feel. Ladies from all different ethnic cultures and backgrounds coming together and getting along almost instantly without any "fake" feelings. It feels so great and is such a refreshing change of settings.

This morning our group of friends was so large we couldn't fit at one table for breakfast and broke into two groups. I don't think any of us minded because our group can be scrambled into any combination and there would still be conversation constantly buzzing.

We attended Kisa Takesue's Leadership class and I feel that it really brought us together. Kisa is an AMAZING professor and she definitely knows how to teach her material. She made sure there were lots of icebreakers at the beginning which allowed us to really learn a little bit of many different aspects of students' lives away from this campus. Interesting facts were traded back and forth and there was zero discrimination amongst us peers.

We, the leadership girls, bonded further during lunch in which we had to split into two groups again. After lunch, more activities in Kisa's class allowed us to get a sense of what type of leader we each were. It is very interesting to see how we all processed thoughts. There were different opinions on everything and engaging debates kept everyone alert. Homework is not all that bad.. At least not yet.

Name Games, Storytelling, and Bonding

I awoke at seven this morning, thanks to Kaylyn's alarm. The first thing I noticed was the glaring sun! It gets so sunny here. My floormates told me how they awoke at 4 am due to the sun rising. I also noticed how extremely tired I was. It didn't make much sense to me because I've been in Providence for five days, and I guess the time zone difference finally dawned on me. Even though I felt like I had only gotten two hours of sleep (when I had actually gotten seven), I freshened up and got dressed.

Kaylyn, Rafjola (a girl on our floor), and I took a nice walk to a center where Rafjola and Kaylyn got new ID cards. We then went to the V-Dubb for breakfast. I had waffles (which you make...however, you are supposed to spray baking spray in the pan before putting in the batter...whoops), scrambled eggs, and cranberry juice. We then headed over to Kisa's classroom, where we would take Women and Leadership!

The bad news? We showed up thirty minutes early due to start time confusion. The good news? The girls that showed up early helped to set up the classroom. Our TA's are Laura and Tiffany, who are RA's in Harkness. After setting up, we were allowed to head to the bookstore, were I met up with the ILC Brownies. We were given our Readers, and then we headed into class.

There are 22 very powerful women in our class. At first I was a little nervous about being in a class with so many strong minded and willed girls, but as the time passed, we realized how much we have in common with one another. We played a very fun name game and did a "storytelling" session where we all went around in a circle and answered questions about each other.

After the games, we were given our journals, which we will do personal reflections in. We were also given a syllabus and a folder for a class. We will also have mandatory reading every week. It will definitely be a jam-packed two weeks. I have no idea why some people think it is an "easy breezy" class because it most definitely is not!

The morning session was where we mainly got to know each other. We had an hour and a half lunch break, so myself, the ILC Brownies, Marlyn, Cynthia (#2), Olivia, and Selena headed out to lunch at the V-Dubb. We then went to the bookstore again to relax.

During the afternoon session, we discussed more about women in society and leadership development. We first laid out ground rules for the class; what we want to see out of everyone. It was a big list!

The RA's posted pictures of quotes about leadership all over the room. We were to stand next to the quote we thought represented us the most.

I stood next to this quote because I feel like a big part of leadership is by convincing yourself that you are not always right and that sometimes you can't do the things you want to do. I was happy when Kisa agreed with my statement.

After that we did a True or False quiz about women in society. Caroline made a very good point about men and women in society in regards of men hiding depression and women being more open about it:

Caroline said that women's symbol is of a circle and a cross at the bottom, and the cross stands for a mirror, as women are more open to revealing their feelings. Men's symbol is of a circle with an arrow and a shield. Men typically get angry and shield themselves from their true feelings and use the arrow to express this anger. I immediately agreed with Caroline's testimony.

We then got in groups and discussed leadership traits we feel we have. We also talked about leaders who affect us in our community. I discussed my father, and it was easy to talk about him because I wrote about him for my essay for the CAHSEE. The girls in my group all agreed that he was a powerful leader.

After that, we got in a circle and talked about what we want to improve in us as leaders. I thought it was nice that we all got to hear what we want to improve in ourselves.

Kaylyn and I headed back to the dorm to rest for a bit. Ms. Williams sent us a text message to meet at Starbucks at 5 pm, so Kaylyn and I relaxed before I had to leave. Ava came into the room as well and we all made nice conversation.
Kaylyn (my awesome roomie) and I!

The meeting at Starbucks with Ms. Williams was quick and informative. It was nice to see her again, but it felt like we hadn't seen her for so many years! Ironically, we had seen her the day before.

After the meeting, we went to find our friend Simon, whom we had met the day before. Unfortunately, Cindy and Josie wrote on the wrong Simon's door in Keeney Hall and we got this message:

How wonderfully comical!

We then went to The Ratty, the closer dining hall to Harkness. I had pasta for dinner, a custom meal it seems at Brown. The food proved to be quite good.

After relaxing in my dorm for a bit after dinner, the Leadership Institute headed outside for a workshop. We were all split into groups by class and worked for about two hours. We talked a lot about leadership skills and what we want to work on. We also had a fun tower building exercise where we each saw each other's leadership traits. Fortunately, my group - Alli, Mariko, Selena, and McKenzie - got along well and successfully made our newspaper tower. There were posters put up in four quarters of the room - North, East, West, and South leadership "qualities" - I felt I connected the most with the "North" qualities.

Women and Leadership is such a profound class. I'm so happy that I'm in this program and with these girls.

Girls' Class

Today was the first day of class in our Women and Leadership course. It wasn't at all what I expected. However, I really really enjoyed it. I was very worried that we would have dry book work. But we did so many interactive activities. I had a great time. We have already made a bunch of friends. The environment in the class is very caring and supportive. I am so comfortable with the girls in my class. I feel comfortable speaking my opinion and knowing that nobody will judge me. I look forward to spending time with these girls and getting to know them better. I want to learn more about myself as a leader and as a person in general. I think the most important thing of all is understanding the importance of taking care of the people around you. The girls in our class have a very developed sense of that.

I met people from other programs too and we are planning on having a soccer pick-up game at sometime. We all use nicknames because it is just easier and it makes us feel closer. Today we got a peacock feather from a shopkeeper and he said it was lucky. Then Katie broke it and had horrible luck for the rest of the day. Funny things happen in Rhode Island. I can't wait for class tomorrow. But I need to leave because I have 30 pages of reading and 3 pages of writing to do tonight! Goodnight!

Sorry for the lack of pictures, I am having great difficulty uploading them for some reason!

Day 7: Let's Stand In A CIrcle

I woke up at 7AM so I could take a shower without competing with the other 20 girls for one of the four showers. I had some trouble with the water, unable to make it anything but freezing cold. Thankfully, that was the only problem I had.

Us Brownies ran to the Brown bookstore after breakfast to get our textbook. We made it to class and we had a blast. I learned a lot but nothing like each other's names. We spent about a half hour in a circle playing name games. Then we talked about the qualities of a leader and we played a game that involved us picking one of two given words that describes us and a leader and a woman. I never learned more about myself and others than during that hour.

Soon after, it was lunch time and we all sat together and made more friends that are taking a medical class and visit a hospital tomorrow. Since i had a temporary I.D. because I didn't have a picture. So after lunch, I headed to the building to get a permanent I.D. but my two friends and I got lost. Then we met Zeke, who help us navigate and got us to the building. The line was really long and we ended up ten minutes to class, but we had Josephine tell our professor, Kisa, that we would be late so she was okay with it.

We got back to class where we went through a worksheet that had statements about the woman's position in society. We had some group work until 3:30PM. We hung out as a(very large) group. We met with Ms. Williams at Starbucks to discuss the day. Then we went to dinner and to our leadership activity at 7PM. We stood in a circle on the grass while the director of the leadership program spoke. The we broke out into our specific class groups and did a team assessment activity. We built a tower out of newspaper and tape while observers watched what type of leader we were. At the end, we went around and spoke about our first day of school.

Although it was an extremely long day, I had a lot of fun. I didn't talk to my roommate since I got up but she and I say "hi" when we pass each other in the hallway. I feel like we are good friends and we get along really well. After the activity, us ILCers started our laundry so we are checking on our clothes in the basement while blogging in the fourth floor lounge. A lot of stairs!!

I can't wait to sleep and more importantly, the shower tomorrow morning.

Home Sweet Home

Today was the day we said goodbye to Providence and hello again to the Bay Area.

Last night, I didn’t pull an all-nighter after all. Everyone was exhausted from the long day yesterday so I decided to sleep as well at 3:30 AM. We woke up in the morning and dressed formally for our brunch with the Brown Alumni Association. Grace had already taken us to the Maddock Alumni Center so Cohort #1 led the way. There, we met with Brown alumni, admissions officers, and professors. Robin Rose, the Associate Dean for Continuing Education and Director of Leadership Programs who we met at the Partnership dinner three weeks ago, was also there to welcome us.

Mr. Ramsey, Dean Rose, and Ms. Kronenberg

We were able to speak with alumni who also served as admissions officers and learn about their experiences at Brown. I learned that most students will switch their majors during college no matter how set they think they are, which sounds discouraging but can be thought of as a positive because in college, you’re able to explore different fields and find the right fit for you.

Talking to alums

After we finished our food, we went into a room to listen to speakers. Adrianne and Mariko of Cohort #2 represented the ILC with well-prepared speeches. Jason Sello, an assistant professor of chemistry at Brown with an impressive array of achievements, spoke after them. Professor Sello attended Morehouse College for his B.S. in biology and Harvard University for his Ph.D. in biophysics. He shared that while he was a solid student, he was never the best in class, but the characteristic behind his success was audacity. His speech was truly inspirational.

Professor Sello speaking
The three speakers

We finished the alumni meeting after 1 PM, which meant that our group had no time to accompany the second group to their check-in at Brown. We said our goodbyes and gave farewell hugs like we’d never see one another again. I am excited for the Women and Leadership group to experience Brown like we did. I know that they will have a wonderful time and make the most out of their two weeks. I found out later from Cynthia that all of the girls are living in Harkness, the house for two-week students that was right behind my dorm. That will be a different experience than our's because the five of us didn't live in the same dorm, which allowed us to meet new people and make new friends.

Our trip home ran smoothly. Mr. Ramsey and Ms. Kronenberg joined us for our flight back to California. When we landed at the Oakland Airport, our parents were there to greet us and welcome us home. It was touching to see everyone hug their parents after not seeing them for one whole month; I myself was overjoyed to see my father. I will miss Andrew, Frank, Erin, and Erinn so much. We have really grown close throughout our journey, from being almost strangers to great friends. We also had the privilege of having the best chaperone we could’ve asked for, Ms. Larson. She was caring and considerate, and I will miss her too. I’m happy to be back on the West Coast, but the East Coast now holds a special place in my heart.

First Out, First Back

After six hours on two different planes, Cohort #1 has landed back in the Bay Area. It is good to be back.
We started out this morning with a wake up call from the bell tower right outside our hotel window. It was chiming for no specific reason (Caroline pointed out that it was 9:47 AM) but we enjoyed some traditional (although out of tune) songs. We got dressed in our formal attire and walked up to Brown University. It would be my last time on campus.
Cohort #2 grazes the Main Green

As we walked to the alumni center, 1,400 students were checking in at Sayles Hall for the continuing Summer@Brown program. I saw my RA, Mikalei, supervising the sidewalk and I ran over to say one last goodbye. It is fun to see all of the people I've met at Brown and that I've become so familiar with.

The alumni brunch was a great way to end my experience at Brown. I met several amazing alumni like Nicole Parrish (who performs spoken word poetry), Natasha Go (an employee at the Third World Center), Christopher Belcher (a neuroscience major from Hawaii), and Dean Rose (the head of the Summer@Brown program). We talked to them during brunch in the beautiful alumni center that Grace Yuen took us to when we met up last week.
Kathleen and Natasha Go '10

I talked with Chris about his experience at Brown and how he adjusted. He did not get to see his family a lot and he had trouble getting used to the weather. Eventually, he adapted and life at Brown was bearable. I was interested in talking to Nicole because she is involved with a lot of extra curricular activities in addition to her studies. That is something I want to do. A lot of the current students give me advice not to stress about college, even though senior year will be tough. Talking to the alumni gave me confidence to be strong and do my best so that I might be able to join them at Brown in the nearing future. Anything is possible right now.
Brown Brunch at the Alumni Center

The next speaker was Jason Sello, a chemistry professor at Brown. He welcomed the new cohort to Brown and wished our group best of luck in our lives as we left. In he speech, Mr. Sello described Brown University exactly how I saw it when I was staying there. He said that in the end, "It's all about the people." At Brown, we were surrounded by such interesting people with new ideas and challenges. While I was there, I made various strong relations with both students and faculty. This is what Mr. Sello was talking about. This is what the Ivy League Connection is all about. We come to the east coast to some of the best institutions in the country and we meet people that influence and inspire us. I always get a buzzing feeling in my heart every time I think about how fortunate I am to have this wonderful experience. I am making connections that I know are going to get me somewhere far in my future. These people have really and sincerely changed my life with their confidence, determination, rigor, and humor. It really means a lot to our community to pursue an education on the east coast. We are expanding our horizons and options for college. There is actually something that exists out of California, and students at home need to realize this.
Frank, Kathleen, and Ms. Larson searching for Wi-Fi
at the airport in Providence

We said goodbye to the second cohort as they drove away with all their bags to check into their dorms. I kept in contact with Caroline while Cohort #1 made our way to the airport. I did not miss the burning sensations in my arms from pulling my luggage around. I just made the 50 lb. limit with a 49.5 lb. suitcase. I felt pretty good about that one.
The plane ride home was full of peanuts, naps, and heart to heart conversations with Ms. Larson. I talked to her about talking, and how I have changed during this trip when it comes to having conversations with other people. At Brown, I found people that I could talk to and connect to. I learned how to be more open and confident about myself. It's very interesting to learn more about myself, but in the least corniest way, my experience at Brown was life- changing. I am still very homesick for my dorm room and floor mates. When we got out of our second airplane into Oakland Airport, my mom and Lucina Parada (who went to Cornell with the ILC in 2008) were there to greet me with warm hugs and chocolate chip muffins.
Andrew, Frank, me, Kathleen, Ms. Larson, and Erinn at the Oakland Airport

Cohort #1 will always be my #1 group. We are hilarious together and I am so glad we get along really well. It was fun to watch each other grow in these past 4 weeks on the east coast. We are back in the Bay Area as changed and enlightened young people. I have faith in my cohort's future. We are home at last, and maybe we will go back home to Providence someday.
The Cohort #1 "Awkward Octopus"
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