Thursday, May 31, 2012

Philadelphia, Here We Come

The last Ivy League Connection event until we leave... 

That is all I could think about when I left school this afternoon. This was the last event. The final step! I was so excited to see everyone and learn the final details of our trip, but before all of that, I was very happy to see that the dress code was summer casual.  Don't get me wrong, I love dressing up, but it was nice to go to another one of these events in a more relaxed outfit.  

Actually getting to Pinole Middle School was just slightly more difficult than I had anticipated. The directions given by Google Maps were incorrect, but fortunately we were close enough to the school that my mom and I could figure out where to go. A bit early we were, but I suppose that we were just on time as we all know that it is always extremely important to arrive before the event begins. We initially sat at the next free table available, but since it was near the back, Don encouraged us to move closer to the speakers up in the front of the room. My mom decided to hurry over to a table further up and I ran over there right before Mr. Ramsey began his speech.

During the first portion of the orientation, Ms. Kronenberg mentioned how we should not think of this trip as a big prize but rather as a job that is demanding and challenging. While those words have scared off some potential ILC members, I hear them and feel even more excited to go on my trip to the University of Pennsylvania. I have realized that what I really want in life is not to be given passes to relax and do whatever I feel like, but rather I have grown to appreciate hard work and dedication. I love the feeling of accomplishment that I get after completing a piece a work, whether it be school related or community related, and I am looking forward to accomplishing a great deal this summer. I thought it was really good that she put that out there, but I was even happier when I looked around the room and saw confident eyes. That really made me feel united with the group because I felt so strongly that we were all ready to go on this great adventure together.

When we broke up into our separate cohorts, I had a chance to see familiar faces of students and their parents whom I had already met, as well as a few new faces of my peers' parents. During this time, Ian mostly spoke and informed us on the specifics of the trip, handing out detailed itineraries and some permission slips. Many of us were curious about whether or not we had to bring our own blankets, but we all decided that they would be too heavy and that we could make a quick trip to Target once we arrived in Philadelphia.  However, as a current Penn student and former ILC student informed us, Target is quite a ways away from the school and the nearest store has terrible parking. So I guess there are still a few kinks in the plan that we need to work out after all...but we'll get there.

Once we returned to the multi-purpose room, Mr. Ramsey made his last remarks and I could feel how excited he was for us all. At first he spoke in a calm tone, but suddenly he was congratulating us with this ecstatic, booming voice that made me really feel like we were about to take off!  I loved the way he ended his speech and now I feel fully prepared to get out of here and fly to Philly!

Launch Pad

Ask any of my friends, and they’ll tell you that I have been looking forward to this opportunity since I was accepted to the ILC back in February. I remember last year’s orientation being the launch pad before sending us all off to the East Coast, so I was looking forward to the orientation this June as a final step before our highly-anticipated arrival at Penn. I wasn’t disappointed.

Mr. Ramsey congratulates us on getting
this far in the program
Mr. Ramsey and Ms. Kronenberg both reminded us of the importance of good behavior while back east, as we are all ambassadors of the WCCUSD. I was struck with a renewed sense of responsibility when Ms. Kronenberg told us that we owed it to the thousands of other WCCUSD students who don’t get to participate in the ILC to do the very best we could in all aspects of our East Coast experience. Don also spoke, emphasizing the more practical portions of our trip, such as remembering to check our pockets before running the wash so as not to end up with large, colorful stains on all of our clothing. Of course, this might be perfect if navy blue tie-dye is your type of fashion statement, but otherwise this is less than ideal.

Mr. Kronenberg reminded us to represent our
district well while back east
A picture of Don taking pictures
We later dispersed into our breakout groups, walking through the halls of Pinole Middle School until we came to the door with a large Penn banner next to it. Our chaperone, Mr. Lawrence, passed out papers and briefly went over our itinerary. As I scanned down the sheet of college tours and weekend activities, it hit me that in less than a month, we will all be on the East Coast.
Mr. Lawrence introduces himself to the 2012 ILC cohort
Earlier in the evening, I had wondered whether my experience at Brown last summer would dampen my enthusiasm for the coming trip to Penn. I am pleased to report that I am every bit as excited this summer as I was last summer. I could see that same passion mirrored on the faces of my fellow ILCers as we regrouped for some closing remarks by Mr. Ramsey. Look out, East Coast, because WCCUSD’s very own 2012 ILC cohort is on its way!

Congratulations, You Made It!

"You're going to be late!" "Hurry!" "You're still not ready?" These were the only three phrases my parents could utter before rushing out of the front door, and into the car. It was 6:05 PM when we officially left the house, and made our way to the orientation. Once in the car they came up with a whole new set of phrases: "We should have left earlier!", "They're going to start without us!", and my favorite "You don't know where the school is?!" It was a hectic car ride.

Once inside (AND ON TIME!), I, along with my mother, made my way over to what seemed to be the Penn table. After the chaperones introduced themselves, we made our way to our school assigned classroom for more information on our trip. We filled out some papers, we were given detailed information about the trip, and we were able to ask questions. We discussed what items we should bring and what we should wait to buy once we're in the east coast, trips we would like to take as a group during our free time, the importance of being on time, and what is expected of us.

At 7:45 PM, we were all back in the multipurpose room. When Mr. Ramsey said, "Congratulations, You made it!", I was overwhelmed. Overwhelmed with excitement, it had finally hit me. I'm actually going to the east coast for the summer, I'm really taking a class at The University of Pennsylvania! This was it, the final step. I made it, we all made it. Congratulations 2012 ILC participants!

The Last Step

While driving up to what used to be my middle school, it took me a while to get acquainted  with the new setup of the school. After finally figuring it out, I imagined all the old buildings in the exact same place along with all the old memories of being a middle school student.

As the orientation took, what I would call a "shaky" beginning, due to the tardiness of a few of my cohorts, I was yet to feel the excitement of which I would feel just minutes after we split off into groups. Receiving all the paperwork with the different utilities we would be needing made it seem like we would be gone for years, but  which was actually a month, just to make us as comfortable as possible.

When we split off into groups, I felt as if I were to pack and leave that very night. The excitement of traveling to the east coast finally hit me. I will be attending an Ivy league college for a month. which includes being on my own without parents, dorm life , and most of all meeting new people. Now that the stress is over and there's nothing left but to go and make a good representation of the WCCUSD, I feel obligated to those who made it possible for me, to do my very best.

The Final Step

I just got home from tonight's orientation, and I'm hoping that I didn't annoy my mom too much with my constant gushes of excitement in the car on the way back.  Not only was the evening helpful and informative, it also served as yet another tool to increase the excitement I feel for this summer.  Though, to be honest, it doesn't take much these days to set me off on a high-pitched ramble of enthusiasm. I think all my friends are anticipating my trip not only because of how amazing it will be, but also because I might finally stop talking about it.
A room full of amazing people
Orientation began with a welcome and a review of the expectations for all the ILC participants.  Although we had all heard this many times, it was nice to have a refresher and a reminder of how privileged we all are to have this opportunity.  Then, Ms. Kronenberg introduced the Chaperones and each one got to share some of their thoughts on the coming summer.  Each little speech was filled with smiles and words of excitement very similar to my own.  Don took over next to give us some more details on our trips, go over our packing list, and share with us some of the items he is willing to loan out over the summer.  After the frantic search for my camera cord this evening, I know a card reader will be on my list of requests.
Ms. Kronenberg introduces the chaperones

Did I mention that I'm really excited?
We then went into the breakout groups for each cohort.  We received more specifics on our itineraries and talked with Christina, a rising Junior at Penn.  I was happy to see that besides the course work, we will also get to do fun things on the weekends, like watch an MLS game and visit the art museum.  I was also glad to find out that the dorms at Penn are air conditioned and can get "meat locker cold."  I highly doubt growing up in the Bay Area has prepared me for the heat I will experience in Philadelphia so it is nice to know I will get a break at night.

With all the specifics covered, we reconvened in the multipurpose room for some final remarks and a large round of applause for all of us.  It feels amazing to have made it this far, and I can't believe we are leaving in less than a month.