Sunday, November 20, 2011

Symposium Reflections

Wow. Unless I’m quite mistaken, it’s been quite a while since the last time I blogged. In fact, it’s been 4 months! When I returned home from Brown at the end of July, I honestly didn’t think that I would see Providence again, unless I applied to college there. However, this fall I decided to apply to the Symposium on Social Action, a three-day event where Leadership Institute alumni were given the opportunity to return to Brown and meet with experts to discuss Action Plans. I was accepted to the Symposium in early October and I was thrilled to realize that I was going back to Brown.

Upon arriving at Hotel Providence, I was greeted by a wave of familiar faces. I was overjoyed to see so many friends who I had thought I would never see again upon completion of the Women and Leadership course in the summer. We compared stories about school, reminisced about the summer, and celebrated our unlikely reunion.

After a lovely Friday dinner we got down to business–community building exercises on Friday night, lectures and workshops in the morning and afternoon on Saturday, and more lectures on Sunday morning. It’s always a bit daunting to me to listen to the phenomenal testimonials of former Leadership Institute students who have done things like travel to India and do artwork with Tibetan schoolchildren, or send tennis equipment to kids in Zambia. However intimidating these events may be initially, I realize that they are extremely helpful because ultimately I always come away a little more inspired to try to make a difference.

The Symposium ended on Sunday on the main green of Brown’s campus. Saying goodbye to my friends was in some ways more heartbreaking than before because now I knew that I really wouldn’t be seeing them again, but at the same time I knew that we would continue to keep in touch. Saying goodbye to Brown was also difficult, especially since I fell in love with campus all over again during my three-day stay in Providence.

While I enjoyed Brown during the W&L program, one of the most vivid physical aspects I remember was the awful heat and humidity of an East Coast summer. Staying at Brown in the fall was an entirely different matter, as I found myself a bit too cold for most of the trip. I must say though, I absolutely loved the gorgeous autumn foliage that was present all throughout the East Coast.

As part of my journey back to the West Coast, I took a train from Providence to Boston. Although I had been planning to do homework, I ended up spending most of my time staring out the window in appreciation of the beautiful countryside. If I were to look out the window of a train back home, I would most likely see industrial complexes or perhaps golden California hills if I were lucky. On my voyage to Boston, I saw trees with leaves in flaming shades of gold and red, inky black pools of water with fallen leaves floating on their surfaces, and picturesque New England farmhouses. I treasured that train ride experience and did my homework on the plane instead.

One other thing I want to mention about my trip to Brown–I was lucky enough to see one of my friends from El Cerrito High, an ILC alum who now attends Brown University! Irene Rojas-Carroll took Adrianne and me to a spoken word performance on Saturday night, put on by students of Brown. Lupe Morales, another ILC alum and freshman at Brown, also came along and although I didn’t know her before the ILC I was glad for the chance to interact with her. She has a friendly, vibrant personality and welcomed us to Brown. Irene and Lupe told Adrianne and me about their busy schedules–and I thought that I was busy now as a junior!

I felt so privileged to have the opportunity to return to Brown and to feel as though I belonged with such a talented group of people. I never would have had this chance had I not been sent to Brown over the summer by the ILC, and I will remain eternally grateful for the support shown to me.
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