Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sleepy Sunday

Today I had the luxury of sleeping in for the first and last time. I woke up around 9:30, which was probably not as much sleep as I needed; however, I have always had difficulty sleeping in. Morning is my favorite time of day because it is so beautiful, so when I sleep in I feel as though I am wasting the best part of the day.

I missed breakfast at the VW, so instead a group of my friends and I went to Au Bon Pain to buy muffins and fruit. After a brief stop at Starbucks, I traveled to the science library to study in a peaceful, air-conditioned workspace. I remained here until I had to meet with my leadership fellow (TA) Tiffany to discuss my Action Plan.

Tiffany had lots of good ideas and suggestions, which I was grateful to receive. She pointed out some of the flaws in my plan and helped me remedy them. She also related some wisdom that she had come across during her own implementation of an Action Plan. She told me not to be afraid of adjusting my Action Plan if my original idea didn’t pan out. Since my Action Plan has several tricky variables, I took it to heart. I’ll try to be sure and have a backup plan, just in case!

After the meeting with Tiffany, I raced over to the student center to watch the Women’s World Cup Final–USA vs. Japan. Our wonderful, wonderful teacher, Kisa, had reserved a large, air-conditioned lounge for any interested students in the leadership institute. Apparently, since she is head of the student center, she can do things like that. It was so thoughtful of her! I enjoyed watching the game and thought it was very exciting, but I won’t deny that I was rather upset about the outcome. Losing in penalty kicks is a huge disappointment–but I need to change the subject before I get mad again.

I spent the rest of the day doing homework, except for the part where I was at a mandatory midweek reflections activity with the rest of my dorm. It’s always interesting to hear everyone else’s thoughts about their experience and compare them to my own. It’s getting late, so I’ll sign out. Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Ready, Set, Action Plan!

There was a workshop today that celebrates the end of the first week of the Summer Program.. at least for our group. There was discussion on our Action Plan and I finally decided what I want to do.

Josie and I are planning on collaborating to prepare a Diversity Presentation/Workshop where we do exercises similar to that of the ones we had in the workshops here. The end results usually come out great and I really hope to create a supportive, accepting school environment. There was actually a show that inspired me to do this. The show is called "If You Really Knew Me" on MTV where an organization focuses on breaking down racial walls and dissolving cliques to create a community where everyone leans on one another. I always wanted this program to come to our school, but this time I believe I can do it.

Olga, my R.A., led an after-discussion where we talked about the good and the bad qualities of Brown. Olga loves Brown and honestly wouldn't want to go anywhere else. a good point she made about Providence, Rhode Island, is that it is just big enough so that she isn't bored and can do her work without getting distracted. That's a great aspect in colleges because you are more disciplined.

Laundry was a must today because I have been lazy and the dirty clothing has been piling up. It's a lot more fun to do when you have such great friends doing their laundry with you. As the machines worked their magic, we did homework and discussed certain topics that we found interesting.

Week 1, Done

It saddens me to think that I’m going home in five days. The weekend is ending and I can’t imagine leaving my new friends to go back to the West Coast. As cliché is it may sound, I feel like I’ve known these people for ages even though it’s only been a week.

Today marked the second week of my trip to Rhode Island, and my first week of studying here at Brown University. I’m currently getting a taste of the dorm life, and it has changed my mind about what I expect when I go off to college in fall of 2012.

Before coming here to Brown, I thought I was set on saving money and skipping the dorm life and moving into an apartment. I wouldn’t have to pay extra for food and laundry facilities, I would be free to use the bathroom whenever I want, and I wouldn’t have to worry about the awkwardness of living with a room mate. However, after only one week of living in the dorms, I’ve been convinced otherwise.

Now, not only am I in love with Brown University, but I am also looking forward to living in a dorm regardless of whatever college I make it into. It may be a little too early to say this, but I would relive the week in a heartbeat just so I could have another week to spend with the amazing people I’ve met in my dorm building.

I don’t have much to say about what happened today, which was mostly walking along Thayer Street and hanging out in the dorms, so this blog entry is mostly a reflective entry about how I’ve been feeling throughout my first week at Brown.

During the week, I’ve learned more about how to be an effective leader, the roles of gender stereotypes in society, and how much media affects the status of women than I have in my whole lifetime. I love my teacher, Kisa Takesue, for being such an engaging educator. She makes me look forward to class every day and she makes the day go by so quickly. We need more teachers like her.

I’ve also experienced so much more acceptance here than back at home, where people “know” where they belong and stick to that group. Rather, during the Summer@Brown session, students who barely knew each other welcomed each other into their rooms then introduced themselves. I gained friends at such a fast rate that I wouldn’t be able to hang out with all of them at once. Nobody dislikes anybody else because we all realize that there simply isn’t enough time in our session to hold grudges and be uncivil.

Week 2, I’m ready for you.


The most significant event of the day was the Women's World Cup Final. The entire leadership institute was invited to watch it. Yes, the United States lost to Japan in penalty kicks after overtime. However, I am a die hard patriot and love team U.S.A. win or lose. Hope Solo played her heart out along with everyone on the field. Hope Solo is my hero. I am quite confused about why Alex Morgan didn't take a penalty kick. It was great to see so many people from so many different backgrounds come together to cheer on the U.S.A. 's team. It is just another thing that shows how almost anything can be used to bring people together. I would like to thank Kisa Takesue for setting that up! We were all so glad to be able to watch the game.

We had a mid-week reflection at 7 where we discussed how much we enjoy living in Harkness and how cool the people in our dorm are. I really liked some of the things we talked about, for example our biggest challenges and biggest fears, along with moments we enjoyed the most. It was quite a nice way to reminisce. We also got the opportunity to talk to some of our leader fellows about carrying out their action plans. It was refreshing to talk to some people who had extreme success with their goals.


Sunday at Brown

Most would consider today "Lazy Sunday" because there weren't any RA trips today. However, I made the most out of my day by working as hard as I could on two out of three of my projects:

  • The one that I am currently working on is my Amazing Women Monologue. We had to choose a famous woman and now we are doing research about her. We will present her to our class, as well. I chose Amy Chua, the controversial El Cerrito High School and Harvard alum and currently Yale Law School professor who is known for her memoir Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. The book focuses on how Chua raised her two daughters, Sophia and Lulu, the "Chinese way", which was seen as abusive by many critics. Sophia practiced piano and Lulu practiced piano up to about six hours a day (yes, a day...not a week), could no attend sleepovers, weren't allowed to watch TV or play computer games, etc. I read the book and have actually emailed and interviewed Ms. Chua. She was very nice and I do not think she was abusive; I think her love for her children showcased in a different way than Western parents. 
  • We have to conduct two Leadership interviews. The first one is of a woman of our choice that is older than us. I interviewed my great Aunt Carolyn, who worked in the U.S. Senate generating good causes in connection to economic policy. Our interview was very interesting; I asked her if she was a feminist and she strongly said no. She then explained the difference between feminism for Caucasian women and feminism for African-American women. She said that African-American women were always involved in the workforce, whereas Caucasian women were housewives and their husbands worked high powered jobs so that their wives couldn't work. She was using the term African-American and Caucasian women loosely. Of course not every woman of that race is going to be like the description Aunt Carolyn gave me. I definitely learned a lot from the interview.
  • Action Plan: Step Three! Today we wrote out an outline of our Action Plan. As I started the worksheet, I was unsure. I thought of my topic: is this what I truly want to do? But as I began to organize my thoughts, I truly realized that I was hitting the right now. What is my Action Plan, you might ask? My Action Plan is about raising awareness and educating my local community, the WCCUSD, and El Cerrito High School about the achievement gap controversy. The achievement gap is the merit-based difference between majority students (Asians and Caucasians) and minority students (African-Americans and Hispanics). Statistics show that Asians and Caucasians do much better than African-Americans and Hispanics on state tests and in accordance to graduating from high school and going on to attend college. My plan of action is to hold information sessions for freshman classes, generate tutoring, hold assemblies, and write articles for local newspapers about the controversy. I was named the president of Angaza, El Cerrito High School's club and non-profit organization that is dedicated to fixing the achievement gap and decreasing the drop-out rate within our school. I feel like this Action Plan will help me develop the club with my new position and make a positive change for the school and community. I called my family tonight and was blushing with happiness when they gave me their positive feedback. 
We had a workshop tonight about Action Plans as well. I was intrigued to hear Olga, Alex, Tiffany, and Catherine's testimonies about their Action Plans:
  • Alex educated middle school kids about the government, and these kids raised awareness and wrote letters to Congress about a school that had no textbooks but desperately needed them. The letters worked and the school was granted with the textbooks. Essentially, Alex's action plan was to teach kids on how to conduct action plans
  • Olga raised awareness about the 2008 Presidential election for middle school kids
  • Tiffany spread awareness about the need for organic and healthy lunch meals in her high school and the need for closer grocery markets instead of liquor stores in Oakland, California (where she is from)
  • Catherine raised awareness for middle school kids about poverty in Africa 
It was very interesting and provided good information to all of the Leadership Institute students. The four RA's informed us about their struggles and frustrations (getting people to finance, listen, and support their aspirations) and the good times (knowing that they educated people and made a difference). It definitely made me think about how I will possibly deal with bumps in the road for my Action Plan. It also made me really excited about Symposium for Action Plans, which is held in November at Brown. Leadership students come back to work on their Action Plans. I want to be accepted to that so badly. I love it here at Brown and definitely want to come back to work more on my Plan with these supportive people. Everyone at Brown is amazing and willing to help anyone with anything.

Later tonight most of us relaxed in the Estro-Den (aka the lounge...don't ask about the name....haha) and had a discussion about dorm life and activities with Olga. Most of the questions were directed about her knowledge of Emma Watson (they were in the same dorm house last school year).

I am so sad that this is my last week in Providence. I don't want to leave, not just yet. I love the city, everything we get to do here, the food (the pizza is so much better here than it is back home), the people...and I've actually adapted to the weather. I can safely call Providence my second home.


Today started out great when I woke up at eleven o’clock. After running some errands around the Brown campus, I remembered how much homework I had to do. One of those assignments was an interview of a woman in my life. I decided to do my grandmother, who is mother of three children, a doctor, a volunteer in Haiti, and quite a feminist. I learned a lot of new things about the role of women in her life, and how that has changed over time. I also learned how actively feminist she is, and how that has led her (and also other women in my family) to achieve so much. We talked on the phone for more than an hour. I realized that I hadn’t talked to her in an eternity, and I remembered how thoughtful and inspirational she is.

After lunch I had the chance to meet with Tiphany, one of my leader fellows, to discuss my developing action plan. I have decided on one involving accessibility of organic produce to low-income families (more details later...) We discussed how feasible it was, and what I may have to do if everything doesn't go as planned. Later I would find out that she had done a similar project in highschool. I will definitely be using her as a resource in the future.

At seven we had a workshop with the entire leadership institute. At the workshop, four of our leader fellows told us about their experiences with their action plans. One thing that became very apparent was that none of them achieved what they had planned to achieve. There were many obstacles that arose, and many of them ended up having to change their plan entirely. They told us to not measure the success of your action plan by if you reached your original goal, but instead by your ability to adapt to obstacles that arise and still continue trying to help that cause. They stressed having a source of mentorship or other support that can keep you motivated when times are tough. They also gave us tips on how to deal with administrators, and what the symposium in November will offer. Overall it was a helpful workshop, and made us aware of the obstacles that we may face, but to not be discouraged by them.

Day 13: Where Is My Bag?

The day started began wonderfully at 11AM. I slept in after staying until 2AM. It was fun staying up with the other girls in our building but I know it'll bite me in the butt tomorrow. We missed breakfast at the dining hall so we went to Au Bon Pain again, and I had the cinnamon roll again. Then I went to the building where our class is at to find the machine that puts money on your I.D. card. With $10 on my card, it was easier to do laundry because I was able to just swipe my card instead of going to five different stores trying to get quarters.

We did laundry, which would've gone faster if everyone in the building wasn't doing there laundry at the same time. The great thing about doing laundry is that it gives you time to just hang out and bond because there is nothing you can really accomplish in 30 minutes.

Afterward, I had my meeting with a Leader Fellow, Laura, who is also a "Teacher's Assistant" in our class to discuss my action plan. She helped me by assigning me a timeline that is due tomorrow.

Once I was allowed to go, we went down to the fancier dining hall. We had never laughed so hard. We cracked joke after joke, improving Cynthia's day. We went to a store afterward and ran into a street magician. He asked me to volunteer and I happily complied. Then I went to the other dining hall because we ended up dining at different times. Many were occupied because their significant others and parents visited. It was wonderful meeting them because it adds to what little we know about them.

Just before the day ended, we had a mandatory "mid-session" meeting. We all met in a lecture hall where four R.A.s talked about their action plans and the challenges they faced. Then we left with our floor's R.A. to have a group discussion about our experiences here so far.

When we got back I realized that my bag was missing. It wasn't in Cynthia's room but I eventually found it in another friend's room. My camera was in there so I couldn't take pictures. Today was long and tiring and I was surprised that I am looking forward to class tomorrow. Usually at home in California, I can't wait until the weekend, but the weekend makes me sad because I know that we have no more weekends here in Rhode Island.
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