Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Words from a (Hopeful) Future Brown Bear

It’s been more than a couple of days since I left the wonderful city of Providence Rhode Island. I’m no longer jetlagged in any way, and the intense humidity I felt on the East Coast is but a faint memory. However, the memories made between myself as well as my cohort and the other people I met at Brown are forever imprinted in my mind.

I remember being on the plane and leaving the Bay Area before the sun came up and watching the sunrise, which represented a beautiful start to an amazing trip. Although my cohort was really friendly and familiar with one another, we were all still somewhat aloof of each other and tended to stick with people from our own schools. Little did we know, this was all about to change within the first night at Hotel Providence, where we got an email from an angry Don Gosney, who noticed us “segregating” ourselves and demanded that we change such attitude. We immediately made a conscious effort to walk, talk, and sit with members of other schools. This awkward friendliness towards each other was our first form of actual bonding, as we’d laugh about taking cheesy photos and appearing like a cliché “sisterhood.”

For the first week in Providence, my cohort and I went on college tours on a daily basis. Before this program, I was set on settling in California for college. I figured that the stress of leaving my loved ones would outweigh the benefits of studying beyond my comfort zone and in another state. I even specifically told Ms. Sue Kim, my private college advisor, that I was only interested in California colleges. However, on the East Coast, we visited colleges such as Boston University in Massachusetts, a liberal arts college that Martin Luther King Jr. himself graduated from, Wellesley College, an all-girls college that looked like a palace and had top-of-the-line architecture, and Harvard University, another fellow Ivy League college. I’m glad to announce that my eyes have truly been open to all the other options beyond Universities of California. I’m in love with the East Coast and what the colleges have to offer out there, such as multiple study abroad programs and an abundance of intellectual and supportive peers.

After the college tours and an awesome over-lapping with cohort of Brown Session 1, it was time to move into the dorms. I still remember the struggle of moving my stuff out onto the campus and finding out where to go with my cohort. When we all found out what to do and where to go, we were faced with another struggle: carrying our luggage up the stairs onto the 2nd and 3rd floors of Harkness Hall. We helped each other before helping ourselves and pretty soon, we were visiting each other’s rooms like friendly neighbors. Prior to coming to Brown, I also told myself that I wasn’t going to dorm. Rather, I planned on living in an apartment for my first year of college as to save money and maintain my own privacy. Living in Harkness Hall, however, changed my mind completely. I became close friends with nearly everyone on my floor. Our whole building would meet down in the 1st floor lounge just to chat and gossip like old girlfriends do. I was living in a college community setting, and knowing that I would be missing out on this made me change my mind about living in an apartment during my freshman year of college. I want to be part of the buzz and roommate drama. I want to have sleepovers with the girls 3 doors away from mine. I can’t wait to go back to the dorm life in about a year.

The class itself was awe-inspiring. Kisa Takesue is one of my heroes. I never thought a teacher would be so full of energy. Unlike any teacher I’ve been taught under, Kisa would actually notice the class falling asleep and making us stand in a circle and do some type of wake-up activity to get us back on our feet and ready to learn. I studied Women & Leadership, which is pretty self-explanatory. Before taking this class, I thought of feminists as man-hating hypocrites who wanted to be greater than men and take more credit for their jobs. However, this course taught me the true meaning of feminism and what feminists really do strive for, which is simply political, economic, and social equality. Through this course, I also learned how to be a better leader and facilitator. I learned techniques to calmly quieting down a classroom, which is something that many teachers at my school don’t know how to do. I was taught skills that would benefit me both in and out of the classroom.

Upon heading back to the airport, Rebecca, one of the girls in my cohort, pointed out that as we all walked: Me, Caroline, Cynthia, Rebecca, Alex, Mariko, and Adrianne; we walked as one big united group of leaders. We were ready to take the lessons learned inside and outside of the classroom to our own communities, and we walked with the confidence in knowing that we were set to change the way people see us as women and as leaders. A few hours after boarding the plane, we noticed that there was a beautiful sunset following us home. It was a perfect way to end such an amazing journey.

The college visits and Brown opened my eyes to what I really want when it comes to colleges. Before, I was set on living in an apartment and attending a California college. Now, however, although I don’t mind staying in California, I’m so much more comfortable imagining myself in out-of-state colleges such as Brown and Boston University, which is where I plan on applying to this fall. I’ve completely dropped the apartment living idea after being able to have the experience of sharing a floor with many other people going through the same life changes as I am. Being part of the ILC meant that I was qualified to partake in a huge scholarship program that has changed the way I see my future. I highly encourage those who have been offered to be part of this program to grasp onto it and take it seriously. I have absolutely no regrets ever writing that essay, going through the nerve-racking interviews, attending tutorials and listening to Don lecture about how important always replying to emails is, and boarding that plane to Rhode Island. In fact, I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat if I could.
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