Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Big Dinner

The Group Photo
Yesterday was an exciting experience to meet new people. After taking the BART to San Francisco to go to the dinner at Prospect restaurant, we had to walk a short distance to get there. As we got to the restaurant, there were alumni, school board members, our chaperone, and other special guests who met us there. My cohorts and I got to meet the alums of UChicago before we all sat down for dinner. Tammy Spath, Elspeth Michaels, Gal Oppenheimer, and Andrew Stevens were much appreciated by my cohorts and I because they told us about what the school looked like, what it will be like in Chicago, and how their experience was  there.

Mr. Ramsey's Speech
It's nice to hear that the summer is the best time to go to Chicago because everyone there is going to be happy that it isn't cold and I'm excited to take the courses at the school and to explore the places in Chicago. It's refreshing to hear that the dormitories are somewhat like the ones in the Harry Potter movies and I'm so excited because I've been a big fan of Harry Potter since elementary.

At the dinner, I was seated at a table with Gal Oppenheimer, Carol Langbort, William K. Holsman, my dad, Norman Lewak, and Sewellyn Kaplan. We talked about the course I am taking and what the school was like a while ago. The alums at my table told me about the Sears Tower which is now called Willis Tower. The Willis Tower is a 108 stories high, 1,451-foot skyscraper in Chicago. Norman Lewak also talked about how UChicago was called The College. It was awesome to hear about what the school was like in the past and what it's like now.

After taking pictures with all the alumni and my cohorts after the dinner and having a great evening, I thank all the people who made this opportunity possible. Hearing the speech from Mr. Ramsey and Judith Blackwell, who couldn't make it to the dinner, was so inspiring and without Mr. Ramsey, the donors, and school board members I wouldn't be in this position to go to Chicago.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Fancy Dinner and New Information

The dinner was, to say the least, eye-opening.

After travelling on BART and a quick walk to Prospect, the restaurant in San Francisco where our dinner was held, our Chicago cohort soon met and talked to University of Chicago alumni and sponsors who met us there.
Dinner at Prospect

William K. Holsman
The first person I had a conversation with was William K. Holsman, a lawyer and University of Chicago alumnus. He told me how he worked for the Navy before attending UChicago, how rigorous the University’s education system is, and how UChicago changes regular, ignorant students into intellectuals. He also told me that the University of Chicago supplies students with original manuscripts of people such as Thomas Hunt Morgan, allowing students to read life-changing breakthroughs firsthand, allowing students to independently formulate their own ideas about major discoveries.

When I asked what he majored in, he explained that when he attended UChicago, he (as well as Dr. Norman Lewak, a pediatrician) participated in a different undergraduate system put into effect by Robert Maynard Hutchins. In that program, Mr. Holsman took several general education classes and took exams to pass (I believe he said the requirement was 14) then specialized in law.

Before tonight, I had never heard of the Hutchins program. It was interesting to find out about the program and see the differences between the University of Chicago today and the University of Chicago about 60 years ago.

Elspeth Michaels
I talked to other alumni afterwards, two of which were Elspeth Michaels and Andrew Stevens. Elspeth told me her experience at UChicago—how she visited and just knew it was the place for her (which she assured me would be one of the ways I’d determine which college is right for me), how her Art History major helped her determine her art preferences, and how much she loved it at UChicago. She, as well as Andrew Stevens and Dr. Michael Lowenstein, elaborated on the dorm life they experienced. They were separated into houses, much like Hogwarts students are separated into houses in Harry Potter (in fact, many things in UChicago are Harry Potter-esque. Students have castle-like dorms [besides other modern dorms], are separated into houses, and have the phoenix as their mascot).

Soon everyone sat in their respective spot at the tables. I shared a table with Ms. Kronenberg, Reginald Terrell, who is a lawyer as well as a sponsor and panelist for the ILC, Dr. Michael Lowenstein, a psychiatrist who graduated from UChicago in 1981, Elspeth Michaels, who now works for UChicago and graduated in 2009, Jimmy, Mr. Guerra, and my dad.

Andrew Stevens
We talked about the University of Chicago’s exciting dorm life, the uniqueness and quirkiness of UChicago, places in Chicago to definitely visit (such as Shedd Aquarium and Millennium Park), and other topics.

Besides Chicago-related topics, we covered various others—the way certain college admission committees function, how much work ILC panelists have to do, the pros and cons of businesses requiring employees’ Facebook passwords, and more.

All in all, it was a great evening. Alexa, Simon Cohen, and Mr. Ramsey’s speeches were inspiring, as was the letter we received from Ms. Judith Blackwell. I learned about Chicago and the University of Chicago, what to expect there, and heard firsthand of the experiences of several alumni. As Ms. Kronenberg and Dr. Lowenstein pointed out, it was the first time alumni who graduated about 60 years ago attended the ILC dinner. That’s a new record—it shows how much people who have attended the University of Chicago love it there.

There are several other sponsors, alums, and special guests I had the privilege to meet that I haven’t mentioned (such as Sewellyn Kaplan, Tammy Spath, and others). Everyone I talked to tonight had a new piece of information or advice that I had yet to hear. The food was absolutely delicious, and paired with the people I was surrounded with, it made for a great evening.

A New Beginning

Chicago Alumni, my cohorts and me holding the Chicago flag.

I just got back from the best dinner in my life at Prospect restaurant, in San Francisco , but I hope it won't be the first or last one. When I said dinner, I am referring to the food that's why is worth its price. The steak was pretty good, but what really made my tummy happy was the rocky road sundae dessert. It was the best sundae I have ever tried. It came with chocolate ice cream, Tahitian vanilla, and dark chocolate accompanies with marshmallows, chocolate covered almonds, and balsamic caramel. Well enough with the food and let's get down to business.

First of all, I want to thank the sponsors, School Board members, our chaperon, Ramsey and finally Don for this opportunity to represent not just only the program but my district and community. For making possible for my cohorts and me to have this opportunity and to be the first one to go Chicago to show them where we come from, who we are and to know about us, that we are dedicated students trying to reach for the stars and land in the moon. As one of the members of the ILC mentioned it when he introduced himself. This inspiring quote reminds me of a quote by Paul Brandt that goes, “Don't tell me the sky is the limit when there are footprints on the moon.” I love this quote because there are two meanings for it. One is that there is a whole world out there waiting for you and staying in the same place can make you lose the chance to explore and meet new people around the world. Another meaning is that you need to challenge yourself and always have high self expectations or goals.

Lets come back to the dinner now. We were all suppose to be at BART of El Cerrito Plaza no later than 5:20 PM. Myself along with my cohorts were ready around 5:30 PM and we managed to catch and early train which was very convenient because the more earlier we get there the faster we get out. During my ride on the train, on my way to the Prospect restaurant, I got to mingle with Josephine mom which was very interesting because we talked about her experienced the first time she ride on an airplane and she traveled on the airplane for more than 25 hours. Oyins' mom took off first from Nigeria, where she's from. After taking off from Nigeria it took her 10 hours to arrive in London were she waited four hours. When the four hours passed, she then took off from London to San Francisco for a total of 15 hours. We started talking about airplane because I told her that this was my first time for everything meaning; get to travel on an airplane, first time getting out of the state, first time visiting Chicago and the list keeps on going. This is all possible because of ILC.

Josephine With my dad
When we arrived at our destination, we needed still to walk a few blocks to get to the Prospect restaurant. It took us at least 5 minutes or less to arrive at the restaurant and that's where Alie, my chaperon, was waiting for us at the front of the restaurant. When everyone went inside the restaurant, one of the server took us where the dinner was going to be held at. Ramsey was finishing the last touches on getting the table organized with name tags. After a couple of minutes the alumni started coming in and we started introducing to them and exchanging basic information such as my name, what school I go to, and what course am I going to take in the summer. In the beginning I was not mingling with the alumni because they were already talking to some of my cohorts and I did not want to be rude and get in their conversation. Alie I saw that I was not interacting with other people and she gave me three good question to start a conversation. That was very helpful for me because I am not very good at starting conversations.

We waiting at least half and hour until we were told that the tables were ready and we can start sitting down. In my table I was sitting with two alumni they were Elspeth and with Michael . With Reginald one of the sponsors of the ILC. Last but not least with Madeline, Eleazer (Danis' dad) and Dani. Elspeth gave me some recommendations of what places I should go visit in Chicago. Elspeth graduated from the University of Chicago in 2009 with a major in arts. Michael graduated in the year of 1981 at Chicago with a major in chemistry.

After, the food was served and my cohort Alexa gave a speech about how this program is helping her and what's the goals for this program. The speech that really inspired me was Ramsey speech because i could of tell that he was speaking with his heart. My favorite part of the speech was when he said that you have to believe in yourself and with confident you can go way bigger than you're dreams and you will show the people who doubted you since day one that you can do or be what ever you want.

This dinner gave me the sensation of unbelievable because I still can't believe that I am very lucky to go to Chicago and that this is really going to happen. To have this opportunity to go travel and visit others colleges. To open our eyes that there are a lot more opportunities out there for you.

Thank you for all the people that were available to go to the dinner it really means a lot to me that I can share this precious moments with all of you.

Food, Fun, and Alumni

Tonight was a very exciting night for me. I attended a dinner at Prospect in San Francisco along with my Chicago cohorts. In attendance at this dinner was one of our parents, sponsors, alumni, School Board members, our chaperon, and special guests. At this dinner, we got to meet those who were able to make this trip a possibility for us and we also got the opportunity to meet University of Chicago alumni who were able to shed light on what our experience might be like.

A couple of the alumni shared with us what life in the University of Chicago is like. A really interesting thing that most of the alumni told me is that the dorm rooms looked like the dormitories in the Harry Potter movies. Being a Harry Potter fanatic, I am really excited to be able to say, "I slept in a Harry Potter style dorm room." I also learned that the weather is either really hot or freezing cold, there never seems to be an in between weather that we are so lucky to have here in the Bay Area. Apparently summer is a really nice time to go to Chicago because everybody is really happy that it isn't freezing. Along with sharing what the rooms are like, the alumni gave us advice about college in general. The biggest piece of advice that stuck to me was given to me by Andrew Stevens who graduated in 2012. Andrew told me that it was alright if I went into college not knowing what I wanted to do, and he also advised me to take an intro class in whatever it is that I am interested in so that I know weather I actually like that subject or not.

At a point during the evening, the dinner conversation turned into places that I must visit when I am in Chicago. On that list is the Art Institute of Chicago and the Oriental Institute Museum. Of course restaurants were suggested and Uno's pizza was suggested by Simon Cohen, soon to be a University of Chicago alumni. As a fun challenge, Tammy Spath told me that I have to choose my favorite gargoyle from the University of Chicago. Hopefully I'll be able to pick one that I really like.

During the dinner, we had Mr. Ramsey come up and speak to us about how this Chicago program arose. He shared with us that he was going through tough times but he decided that he wouldn't mope around and he would try to do something productive and that would benefit others. This led to him traveling to Chicago and forming a relationship with the school which in turn allowed them to offer the Ivy League Connection scholarships to the University of Chicago for their summer programs. This taught me that sometimes we need to not dwell too long on whatever hardships that we are facing and that it is also important to push through during tough times so that we can do something wonderful for those around you. Without Mr. Ramsey pushing through his tough time and traveling to Chicago, I wouldn't have this opportunity to attend the University of Chicago, and personally, I am extremely thankful that he made that decision.
Chicago Group Photo
I can honestly say that this evening made me realize even more how incredible it is that me and my Chicago cohorts are able to visit the University of Chicago this summer. Without the support of everyone who attended this dinner tonight, this trip would not be possible. Everyone there in one way or another made a sacrifice so that this could be possible. Everyone in that room wants to see us succeed and are willing to help us in any way to make it possible for us. I feel like the amount of times I say "thank you" isn't anywhere near enough to show my gratitude for the group of people who made all of this doable. One day, I hope that all of these people will see through my actions how truly grateful I am. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Meeting Alumni at Prospect

I just got back from the highly anticipated ILC dinner with the Chicago cohort, which was held at Prospect restaurant, in San Francisco.All five members of my cohort, as well as five parents, school board members, alumni, and honorary guests, met at BART at about 5:15 PM. Everyone got there in time and we managed to catch an earlier train which was convenient. On the BART ride there, I spoke to Simon Cohen, a senior who also goes to El Cerrito High School, and who will be attending University of Chicago in the fall. We talked a little about how he got interested in the University of Chicago, and which classes he was just now finishing up before graduating.

The Chicago cohort and alumni
Luckily, once we arrived, the walk to the restaurant was short, just a couple blocks. We entered the restaurant and were led to the back to a private room. Mr. Ramsey then set up the seating arrangements and set up the name cards while everyone else introduced themselves. I met many alumni, including two women who worked together in the west coast alumni offices for University of Chicago. Their names were Elsbeth and Tammy, and though they graduated some years apart from each other, they seemed to be very close and good friends. All of the alumni that I met seemed to have graduated at very different times. One alumnus named Norman I met graduated in 1957, and another, Andrew, graduated in 2012. 

I was seated at a table with Mr. Ramsey, my mom, Andrew, Peter (A Dartmouth alumnus and ILC veteran), Erica (an honorary guest), and Mr. Blackmon, a donor. I talked to Andrew a lot about his experience at the University of Chicago. I learned about the common core at the university that requires students to take a certain number of classes of each subject. He said the common core emphasized literary classics, reading and writing, which is why he felt it was a good fit for him. However, he said this structure worked very well for his personality and interests, and would not have worked for his brother, for example. He also told me about the living situations for students. The majority of the alums described the dorm houses like the different houses at Hogwarts. The houses all had different names and sat at the same table in the dining halls.

Alums, donors, students, Alie, and parents, were all introduced and some said a few words. Before long, it was my turn to speak. I was nervous, but when I went up to speak, it was not actually so bad and I think I did pretty well. Once the nerves were gone and my little speech was over, I could enjoy my gourmet meal. For starters, I had a beet salad with truffles and greens. For the main dish, I chose the Alaskan Halibut. Lastly for dessert, I had a delicious rocky road sundae. 

The dinner was delicious, and I felt so grateful to have been able to meet with so many alumni of University of Chicago, who could give us advice and valuable information. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

ILC Tutorial Day

‘Blogging’ is my middle name
All though I usually sleep in on the weekends, I had to go to a tutorial Saturday morning. I still had a wonderful experience learning more about blogging. Being with Don and my cohorts made it more interesting because we made jokes along the way of learning. The tutorial was located at De Anza High School. Since Alexa and I were picked up, by Don, I had to wake up around 6:30 AM. He picked me up around 7:30 AM and we made it to Alexa's house around 7:45 AM and got to the school around 8 AM so Don could set the materials up for the tutorial. But even though one of our cohorts wasn't there, we still had an amazing time learning about blogging with just the four of us ILCers. (But I think it would have been even better if Dani was there.)

The most interesting part was learning how to use a card reader to download the pictures we took onto the computer so that we could put them onto MediaFire while in the process of learning how to put pictures into our blogs. You would be surprised on how much stuff we could use for technology if you don't already know about it. We also learned how to use P
hotoshop to crop pictures and make the pictures look better for our blogs. I also learned how to fix the red eyes on a photo if there are any.

Even though I didn't want to be there and I wanted to stay at home and sleep, I am glad that I went to the tutorial on Saturday because now I have more knowledge on how to blog and what blogging is about and what extras I can do on my blog. I am proud to say that I left the tutorial having a more clear understanding about blogging. I really appreciated that Don took the time to teach us how to blog while having a little fun at the same time. It really helped out to have more knowledge of it.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Blogging From Home

Blogging tutorial at home
Today was my blogging tutorial. Since I go to church on Saturdays from 8 in the morning and stay there until 8 at night, if not longer, Don gave me the choice to have a Sunday tutorial. Of course, I cleaned the house (well, the parts that Don would see) and waited for Don to come over.

He came at around 10 AM, and we got straight to work. I was ready to go straight to blogging, but he surprised me by saying the majority of the tutorial would be talking. He took out a list of things we needed to talk about so I could follow along. Once I saw how many things he needed to tell me about (54 items), I braced myself for a very long talk.

It was long, like I’d expected, but it wasn’t boring. Don added in little jokes and stories like he usually does, which helped hold my interest from item 1 to 54 (I asked for no breaks—I wanted to get it all finished at once).

We talked about basic blogging, what he expects our blogs to include (they want to hear about people we meet, what experiences we go through, what we think about things that happen to us, etc), and when he expects us to blog. 

Don's headshot, taken by me
Finally, we opened up our laptops and practiced taking pictures, adding the pictures to our blogs, and blogging itself. It was definitely helpful, though seeing Austin Long’s blog about visiting Yale (titled “Bulldog Days”) makes me want to step up my blogging game.

After that, we talked about what they expect of us, as well as important things to pack. One of the things our Chicago cohort especially has to do is describe everything at the University of Chicago. Since the program is new, and we don't know much about it, it’s important for each of us to send detailed reports back home.

The tutorial ended kind of early, so we spent a good portion of an hour talking. He told me horror and success stories about Ivy League Connection students. One success story in particular really made me see how valuable the ILC truly is. I remember Don told me the Ivy League Connection takes students to the door of opportunity—unlocking, opening, at times building a door—and introduces them to people on the other side. I'm glad I'm lucky enough to be one of those students.

School Board Presentation

Wednesday evening at Lovonya Dejean Middle School, I attended a School Board meeting along with all the other students who were accepted into the Ivy League Connection. Also in attendance were the School Board members, our chaperons, and our families. This event was a great opportunity for us to meet all the kids who were accepted and to congratulate any familiar faces that we saw. More importantly, it also allowed us to thank those who helped in any way to make all of this possible for us.

At this meeting I was asked to say a few words about how excited I am to be going to Chicago and what I will bring back to my community when all of this is over. During the planning of this mini speech, I hit the worst writers block ever and couldn't think of anything to write. I began to panic because the meeting was only in a few days and there would be a lot of people listening to what I had to say. Messing up was something that I couldn't do. After reaching out to Don and being encouraged by my Chicago group, I decided to speak from the heart instead of going in with a speech already planned.

While waiting for the meeting to begin, I felt that the atmosphere of the room was relaxed and non-judgmental so this put me at ease. This, and seeing so many of my friends wish me luck, made me feel like I was on top of the world. When the time came to give my speech, my mind was clear and I'm glad to say that I was able to speak without passing out or throwing up. Of course it wasn't perfect and I stuttered a little bit but I was still able to do it and the response I got from my Chicago group made me forget about all of that.
Presenting Ourselves to the School Board
After the speech came picture time. The task of getting everyone organized and where they needed to be fell onto the ever capable hands of Don. Getting about 100 people to listen and pay attention to you while you tried and get them to be where they need to be so the picture comes out perfect sounds 100 times as difficult as it does. But, as usual, Don was able to get it done.

I'm really glad that I got to practice my public speaking. Since the Chicago group went last, I was able to take in what my peers did and from that, I could figure out the direction that I wanted my speech to go and the way in which I wanted to deliver it. Granted, maybe another time I'll have to go first but I believe that this practice that I got will only make me a better speaker.

A Great Day at the School Board Meeting

I’ve been waiting for the School Board Meeting for a while.

I did the typical girl routine in the 30 or so minutes I had to get ready before heading out to De Jean: I showered, brushed my teeth, did my hair, and overturned about half my closet looking for clothes to wear.

I arrived at De Jean and found my cohort. Before the meeting started, we gathered together and were told to sit with our cohort, walk to the podium when it was our turn, and smile (I didn’t have anything else to worry about—I wasn’t a speaker). Since the Chicago cohort went last, we had the privilege of watching everyone go before us. 

I thought I would be nervous being presented to the school board members, but I was strangely calm. I was extremely happy that I was given that opportunity, and tried to convey that by smiling a lot (my face hurt afterwards). If you had asked me to stand in front of a panel of obviously important people with several intelligent people behind my back a couple months ago, I would've been terribly nervous. Already, the Ivy League Connection's changing me.
Oyin speaking during the presentation of our cohort

Two students who took part of the ILC also spoke. I forgot their names, but I remember the guy took Constitutional Law and will attend UPenn this year. I also remember the second speaker, a girl, went to Hercules and will attend Harvard.

Harvard and UPenn! I think going to schools as great as those is every present ILC member’s dream.

After all the cohorts had gone, the sponsors were asked to go up. I distinctly remember one being a fabric/sewing company. Everyone gave them a standing ovation, of course.

After that, we took a group photo. Everyone kept fixing their hair or something (yes, Don yelled). I looked at the photo Don sent us and to my surprise, of all people, my dad stands out. He has his entire body in the picture! Of all people.
I counted, what, three girls fixing their hair? Barely anyone was ready at this point.

What definitely made my week (which I’ve needed, considering the stress I’ve had due to finals):

1.) People in my old interviews remember me!
2.) I saw people I don’t usually talk to in person today (like Carson, Michelle, and Lisa)
3.) I was able to watch a school board meeting for the first time
4.) I found out my cohort’s traveling for four days before landing in Chicago! I’m excited (I heard some other cohorts would be going to the same schools, too. That’d be the best if we all went at the same time)!

I found out today that my cohort’s visiting Georgetown University and Northwestern, among others. I never knew how prestigious those universities were until now. It still amazes me how ignorant I am about colleges and universities outside California, and how the ILC took their money and time to plan this. Thank you!!!!!!

First Hellos

On May 12, I had the opportunity to meet with the students who will be attending the University of Chicago with me over the summer and I also met our chaperon, Alie. We decided to go to Mountain Mike's Pizza in San Pablo at around 5:30 PM. I got there early and I waited for everyone to show up. About five minutes later, one of the participants showed up and our chaperon was close behind. Pretty soon everybody arrived and we got the semi-awkward first hellos out the way and we eventually got settled with each other.

From talking to the others, I learned that Dani doesn't have five fish, Victoria is a music kid (like I am), Jimmy doesn't skate (although he could potentially participate in a triathlon one day), and Alexa is a gymnast. I also learned that our chaperon hasn't been living in California all of her life and she is a vegetarian but a good burger is her weakness.

I enjoyed meeting everyone for the first time and I am looking forward to what else is going to come from this experience. I'm excited to do some of the activities we planned on doing when we got to Chicago like going out to eat, going to a museum, visiting a lake or a beach, and celebrating Alie and Dani's birthdays. I'm ready for what's next in my adventure with this group of people that I just met.


 Yesterday morning, I woke up much earlier than normal for a Saturday morning so that I could attend the blog tutorial at De Anza High School. Don picked me up at 7:40 so that he could have time to set up for the tutorial. Victoria and I were both there first since we got a ride with Don. We went into the computer lab where we would be working and soon after Jimmy and Oyin arrived. We got down to business right away. Don started by telling us the basic rules to follow to have a successful experience with the ILC, and then we started working on how to blog. This included how to format, what to focus on when writing, and then we looked at good and bad examples of blog posts. Another really important part of blogging is taking photos and figuring out how to put them in your blog. Don then let us borrow some of his cameras to practice taking pictures and posting them in blogs. 

The Chicago cohort, minus Dani, hard at work

This wasn't just a tutorial on blogs though, it also felt like an introduction to the orientation. We got the finalized dates of our departure and arrival from the trip. The more I hear about the exact dates and where we will be going, the more excited I feel, because it feels more realistic with exact dates put on these events. Overall, this blog tutorial taught me so much and I feel much more prepared to go back east, and will feel even more prepared, I'm sure, after the orientation and dinner.

A Celebration and a Presentation

Wednesday night, I arrived at Lavonya Dejean Middle School at about six to be presented to the school board. When I walked into the building I first saw my chaperone and one of the girls in my cohort, Oyin, so I went over to chat with them. At this point, the majority of the students were there, so it was definitely interesting to see who else would be participating in the program. I saw some students who looked familiar because they went to my school, and others who looked familiar because I had seen them previously at different interviews. 

Once all the members of my cohort arrived, we decided to take some pictures of all of us together. Then Alie, our chaperone, told us that she had recently found out what colleges we would be visiting before returning to Chicago for our classes. The universities we will be visiting include Georgetown, Northwestern, and UPENN. Soon, we all sat down with our respective cohorts and the school board meeting began. The members took roll, and then Charles Ramsey gave us an overview of the meeting, most of which would be the introduction of the ILC program and who would be participating in it, as well as the introduction of those that generously contributed to the program. 

Oyin presenting the Chicago cohort to the School Board Members
One by one, each cohort presented itself to the school board members, first with an introduction by the chaperone, and then an introduction and an expression of gratitude to all those who made the program possible by one of the students. After all of the cohorts had been presented, the students and parents were ushered into a corner of the building where we had our picture taken. This took a great deal of organization and I ended standing next to an invisible person who would be photoshopped in later. After about ten minutes and twenty or so photographs, we were done and each student got a congratulatory certificate. 

We ended earlier than expected, making it short and sweet. Soon after I headed home after a successful and exciting event.

Meeting at Mountain Mikes

The Chicago cohort and the chaperone for the trip, Alie, a teacher at Helms, gathered for a meet and greet at Mountain Mike's Pizza in San  Pablo, on a hot and dry day, May 12. When I arrived, all of the other students and Alie were just sitting down. 

We ordered cheese, pepperoni, veggie, and Hawaiian pizza. We introduced ourselves by stating our names, grades, and what schools we went to. Some of the other students I recognized, like Dani, who I had seen at previous interviews, and Oyin, who goes to my school and is in the grade above me. We also shared with each other what activities we participated in outside of school, and as it turns out all of us are very dedicated to athletics, playing instruments, or both. We also discussed which classes we would be taking at Chicago, and it turns out everyone is taking a different class, meaning we will all have very different experiences to bring back from Chicago. Alie told us she majored in psychology in college, and because I am taking the developmental psychology course, she might be able to help me if I need it. 

Then we played "two truths and a lie" just to learn a little more about each other, which was a fun way to open up to each other. As our pizza arrived and we started eating, Alie helped us brainstorm fun activities we could take part in while in Chicago, including visiting the piers and trying traditional deep-dish Chicago pizza. We finished up eating and put left overs into to-go boxes. We then took some pictures and said goodbye to each other, not for long though, with the school board meeting coming up in just two days.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Let's Learn How to Blog

Normally on a Saturday morning, I usually sleep in until 11:00 AM, then I laze about in my bed for about another 3 hours then finally, I am officially awake. Today was different because at 8:30 AM I attended the ILC tutorial. At this tutorial, we learned many things like what we should expect and what we should bring with us when we are going to Chicago. My personal favorite thing that we learned was how to blog.

Before this I knew that we were required to blog but I wasn't sure how to and I was also afraid of somehow destroying our blog site. At the tutorial, I was put at ease when the mechanics to blogging were explained to us and we were allowed to have some practice. I learned what the correct formatting is and how I should change it if the formatting doesn't come out right. 
The Satisfied Look of Someone Who Can Blog
My biggest fear was uploading a picture onto the actual blog post. For most of my past school assignments, when I tried to insert a picture into the text, I would usually mess up and it would take me far too long to fix it. This fear crept up when we were told pictures helped improve our blog post. I came to the tutorial with an open mind and before I knew it I was able to insert a picture into a blog post without any trouble. I am proud to add that this was done without me freaking out or having to fix any disastrous mistake that I made. 

Aside from feeling accomplished in my learning how to blog properly, I am also confident that with time I will be able to master Photoshop. This way I could improve my pictures by either cropping them, adjusting the brightness, or fixing red eye. Don made it look easy when he showed us how to use it. Hopefully I'll have the same success with it when I begin to use it on my own.

I'm really glad that I attended today's tutorial. This tutorial allowed me to learn things that I didn't know how to do and it also gave me a chance to practice what I learned. This was also a very good chance for me to bond with the others who are going to Chicago with me and get to know them even more. We were able to joke around together and work well so that we could all understand what it is that we were doing. After today, I am even more excited to travel with these wonderful people and share my journey with all of you. 

ILC Tutorial

Victoria and I caught off guard
The tutorial meeting went great. Even though it was early in the morning and I did not want to be there, I learned a lot from this tutorial. It was very helpful for me because now I have a more clear understanding of how to blog, use MediaFire, and what to pack for our trip. 

I thought it was going to be boring but it was interesting because Don kept talking and talking, so he pretty much kept me awake. Don kept the subject interesting because he told us stories about the past students that had been in the ILC and faced a few struggles. This stories were funny and reliable because now I know what not to do and how I am supposed to behave. Don showed us a few tips of how can we organize our files.  The thing that I like the most is that Don made so clearly, he went step by step and made it easier for me. Something that caught my attention was when Don talked about that this was not beneficial for him but for us and that is preparing us for the future. A good tip that Don gave us was that we should practice and practice blogging so we can be pros by the time we take off for Chicago.
 Mountain Mike's Pizza was my first time going there and I liked it. The pizza was pretty good but I got full of eating to much of it, so my peers and I with our chaperone asked for boxes to take the leftovers home for tomorrow lunch.

When I got to Mike's place at 5:28 PM, even though I got there two minutes early Alie with Oyin, Dani, and Victoria was already there waiting for me. I introduced myself to everyone and shake hands. Alexa was running late and we waited for her for a couple of minutes until we decided to order before our time together runs out.  When we finished ordering we all sat down and started introducing ourselves one by one. First, You needed to state your name. Second, which school you currently at. Last but not least, what you do for fun or what sport do you play. We also talked about what programs are we taking in Chicago. We discussed about if this is the first time traveling, if we been away from our family as long as a month, and what kind of things we like so we can explore on our journey in Chicago.  

It was a good vibe with my peers but I was shy because I was the only guy there and I did not know what to say to break the ice. Other than that, I think this it event went great. I  got the chance to meet and know more about my peers and Alie. I hope that later my shyness will go away and get to talk to  these nice ladies more comfortably because we will be seeing each other for one month.  I hope that in these few weeks I can be able to get to know my peers more, so that in the trip I can be able to communicate with them and share more about our experiences and struggles. In the trip I would like to have fun with my peers and help each other on homework or personal stuffs and become united like a family.

Well I leave you guys with this picture I took after our meeting session.

An Extraordinary Experience

Well what can I say, this evening has been an extraordinary experience for me.  I did not think that I would be sitting around next to these dedicated students trying to change both their lives and communities.  This has opened my eyes to understand that this is a huge opportunity for me and that I'm not just representing my school and community. I am also representing the ILC and my school district. I was hearing all of the speakers from every program that gave a speech and every one was thankful for this opportunity because we all know that this program is a program that will change our lives completely.
This evening was great because both of my creators were there to support me as always. I would like to say a special  thank you to my parents for everything they have done and their support throughout my educational life. They don't criticize my decisions of who I want to be and become.  They will always support my decisions I make for my future self. This evening was so special to me, sharing it with both of them, knowing that if I look back they will be there in my special moments like this one. If it wasn't for them this picture wouldn't even exist. They have taught me the dedication and courage to pursue my dreams and goals.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Serious Part

It was a great experience to be at the School Board meeting today and I will admit I was pretty nervous. But it was great seeing other people from my school there and I can't wait to travel with my cohorts and I believe it will be a fun experience besides the fact of doing the courses, which is the serious part, we will have an awesome time.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Two Truths and a Lie

Well, it's my first time blogging. I shudder to think of how this might turn out, but... here goes.

Today was the first day I met my chaperone, Alie, and the rest of my cohort at Mountain Mike's Pizza. I have to admit, I was pretty nervous going in there. I didn't know if anyone was in there, so I kind of just stayed in the car and staked out the place for a good 10 minutes.
My view from the car.  
After I saw a couple people go in, I just decided to go for it. I met Alie, our chaperone, and Victoria. Soon after, everyone arrived. We ordered  pizza and introduced ourselves and what classes we'll be taking at UChicago. Oyin's taking Getting to Green: The Business Case for Sustainability, Alexa's taking Psychology, Jimmy's taking Creative Writing, Victoria's taking Contagion, and I'm taking Biotechnology. Although I kind of hoped someone would take the same course as me, I think it's good we're all taking different courses. This way, people will learn about the different classes they offer at UChicago.

After a while, we played an icebreaker--two truths and a lie. It was fun! I got to learn more about the rest of the cohort, and we all relaxed a bit more around each other after.
The cohort!
After we talked about what we like to do outside of school, Alie talked to us about Chicago and what we'll be doing there. She asked us what we'd like to do there, and told us that we can ask her for help in our courses anytime (thank goodness). She also warned us that we can't do anything like party, drink, and basically act stupid (my words, not hers) so we don't get kicked out. I don't think that'll be a problem with us, though. 

I'm so excited! Glad the first time meeting the cohort was great. Looking forward to Wednesday, the School Board Meeting.