Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The World is a Book, and Those Who Do Not Travel Read Only One Page

Today I woke up with the plan of finishing up my packing. From the very beginning of planning out what to pack, I was afraid of over packing. It would be a big bother to travel to the East Coast with a lot of clothing/accessories that I don't need. 

I was pretty calm as I finished up my packing and chores. I was in the middle of cleaning my room when I received the final itinerary list email from Don. I think that's when it finally hit me that this is actually happening. Who would ever think that an average girl like me would get the chance to study at a top notch Ivy League School, TWICE. It's too crazy to wrap my head around, but it's actually happening. 

Of course the usual nerves are kicking in and I'm overthinking everything. I wonder if making friends would be hard to do, or whether my class will be completely over my head. I've learned to accept these anxieties as part of my psyche, however, it does get tiresome having to worry about every little thing all the time. 

As I complete each task, I text some of my cohort members just to make sure I haven't forgotten anything crucial during my packing process. I've already began to see my cohort members as family. Yesterday, Joanne, Jun, and Justeen and I were able to get together to see Inside Out in the theater. After the movies Jun, Justeen, and I kept the party going with a nice trip to the mall. We got water bottles to keep hydrated when we travel and we also got our eyebrows done. 

Peace California

All in all, I am very excited for this new chapter in my life. There is no doubt that this trip will change and shape me to be the person that I am meant to be. I'm excited to learn more about our society in my Social Justice class, and most of all, I am so excited to blog every night and share my adventures with everyone.

Houston here I come

It is finally sinking in, I'm on my way to the University of Pennsylvania!!!! I've been counting down the days and now I'm at the end. At this exact moment I have one day, seventeen hours and twenty-eight minutes until, I catch the plane to my first stop in Houston, Texas.

I finished all of my packing on Sunday. It took two luggage's to hold all of my things. Luckily, we are flying Southwest and they allow two check-ins. I like traveling yet I don't like flying that much. Not that I have flight anxiety or anything, I just get slightly uneasy. After, being in the air for a while the uneasiness settles. I believe that when I get on the plane this time it isn't going to be unease its going to be anxiousness due to traveling to a totally new area. I'm so excited!!!!!!

These last couple of days I have been spending time with my family. My sisters, especially, we've watched  movies and played games. I've never been so far away from home for so long, but I'm happy to have this chance before I actually go to college.  The reason being is that I would be gone longer than three weeks. This gives me an opportunity to be able to feel homesick. But, I plan to call them every day and Skype them as much as possible.

Today, I woke up feeling so excited but nervous at the same time. I spent time with my mom and grandma all day, we went to Berkeley. I was happy but sad at the same time because I'm not going to be able to say goodbye to my grandma when she leaves.

I'm just grateful to be able to have this opportunity and receive this experience.  I'm so excited , I can't believe I am getting to do something like this. Thank you everyone who has made this possible.


Woke up this morning to pack my bags, with the realization that the time has come I was feeling all tingly inside. I went to drop off my younger sister off to summer school with a warm feeling. I had been dropping her off for two weeks so I was used to doing so and I thought to myself, I am going to miss my little sister and this morning routine we have. Then I got home and continued packing, I then took a break, ate breakfast, and took a shower. When I finished taking my shower I remembered to pack all the bed and body needs. I was set! 
I went to say goodbye to my loved ones, went over to my uncle's house and said bye to my cousins and grandma. Then I went over to Berkeley and hanged out with my girlfriend and her family for the afternoon, I said goodbye and came home. Finally I went to drop off my grandma at San Francisco and I got home and am going to sleep, READY FOR TOMORROW!!!! THE START OF AN ADVENTURE THAT WILL CHANGE MY LIFE FOREVER! 

Are We There Yet???

"Are we there yet?" is a classic question that kids ask in movies and on the road. Even though the day is almost here, it feels so close yet so far. Just 5 more hours until we meet up at El Cerrito High School.

Unlike some of the other ILCers, I did not attend any programs last year so I don't know if what I packed is enough. I filled my day up with packing for the trip and doing some last minute shopping.  A couple hours ago, Don emailed us an itinerary of our whole trip and I got to say it's looking fabulous. Everything is looking fabulous. A terrible habit of mine is that I usually tend to over pack and I like to bring 2 extra pairs of whatever clothing I need; hopefully that won't cause my suitcase to weigh more than 50 pounds. I remember an ILCer told me that I should leave extra room for the stuff that I will be bringing back from my trip because I will definitely be bringing home more stuff than I began with. 

Even though I'm done packing my suitcase, I get this feeling that I'm missing something and it's something important but I don't know what it is. But whatever it is, hopefully it's not of much importance because if I didn't bring it, then I can just buy it when I get there. Now I just have to pack my backpack and sleep because I have to wake up at 2:30 AM. Hopefully none of us will be late and will not have to face the wrath of Don because everyone knows that it isn't pretty. I will see my fellow cohort at 3:15 AM. 

Although I have been very independent since the age of 5, I can't help but to think that I will be feeling homesick because this is the longest time that I have been away from home. But in the real world, there is not going to be someone who will hold my hand wherever I go. This is the time for me to really see what true independence is and what college life is like. 

The Wait is Finally Over!

At last, the long awaited trip to the East coast has finally come! Tomorrow’s finally the day that I’ll be able to experience something I would have never imagined. I still find it unbelievable that I am a part of this program. Ever since I made it through the interview phase, I’ve been imagining how this trip would turn out, and tomorrow my dreams will finally become a reality.

Packed and ready to go!
As I sit back, and look at my luggage, I can’t help but feel extremely calm. At this point, I should be running around, and freaking out about tomorrow, but I am completely relaxed at the moment. This is the first year that I will actually be travelling without my parents, but I couldn't be happier. The only thing that I am truly worried about is whether or not I packed too much. I'm only going to be bringing two pieces of luggage, but I feel as though I have packed way too much, and that my check-in bag is far too big. Let's just hope that everything will go smoothly tomorrow. 

Since I have to arrive at El Cerrito High School by 3:15 AM, I am definitely setting more than five alarms to ensure I'll wake up on time. This is extremely early for me, considering the fact that I usually wake up at 10 AM, but then again, it’s my fault, since I sleep at around 1 AM. Anyways, once everyone arrives at El Cerrito, we’ll be heading to the airport by 4 AM. Thanks to Don, we have our itinerary for the next couple of days. Although it seems overwhelming to be going on a plane everyday, I know that what we would learn would make our sleep deprivation worth it. 

I am definitely going to miss my family, and my home, but I feel like I'm ready to spend a month away from them, and finally see what it feels like to be truly independent. I can't express how excited I am, because I have literally been waiting for this moment for months. Finally, the wait is over, and I can just relax and go to sleep as I await for tomorrow to come.

Ready, Set, Go!

As I'm writing this blog, the smell of horse manure from the stable across the street enters my room in a friendly way. Boy, am I going to miss this smell for a month!

The day has finally arrived for us to depart. In a few hours I'll be meeting up with my companions for this summer study trip. Soon Don will be checking to see if everyone has their identification and medical cards. Soon I will be saying goodbye to my parents for 25 days. Very soon, I will be travelling as a responsible adult. Because this will be my second time participating in the Ivy League Connection, the the mistakes I made last year will be beneficial to my success this year.

What I had learned last year was to not pack 5 jackets. I did not need all those jackets in a place where it is over 90 degrees. This has made my packing way easier and more efficient as I packed for the weather this time. Still, bringing a light jacket is a necessity.

Don says that a good toiletry kit is essential. Yes, it is. Very. Last year I thought that bringing one would only be a hassle and a plastic bag would be enough to carry my shampoo and conditioner. It figures that you need more than just your shampoo and conditioner when you take a shower in a humid, dirty stall. I'm going to follow Don's advice once and for all and invested in a sturdy bag to carry everything. Lets see how that goes. It will most likely be better than carrying my plastic toiletry bag in one hand and a laundry bag in the other while putting a bath towel on my shoulder. Yes, way better.

To make things go a little smoother and quicker for tomorrow morning (3:15AM), I am going to weigh my awesome luggage and make sure they aren't over the Southwest Airlines limit. This was a critical point that people missed last year. Someone had a luggage over 55lbs and thus resulted in her saying bye-bye to her favorite stilettos with everyone staring at her. I'll make sure tomorrow that if I sob, I'll sob for not seeing my parents for a month and not my favorite scented 27fl oz body wash.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

A Dinner With my Peers, the First of Many!

Left, Zachary's : Right Book Store
Tuesday, such a wonderful Tuesday it was. Woke up to a great start, took a shower then got dressed and ready to go to sf with my mother to leave finger prints. We came back home around 1 O’clock I was in aa great mood keeping in mind that I had to be at Zachary’s no later than 5:50 p.m. I came home and I went on YouTube to watch videos about car engineering. After a while I finished some homework for history class and took a nap because I was exhausted. I put three alarms to make sure I would wake up on time. I woke up around 4:30 p.m. I looked up the address while I was getting ready for the dinner. I left early around 5:15 p.m. with a smile on my face and a hunger for pizza pie. I grabbed the keys and headed out with time on my side I drove extra calmly and safely with the radio in low volume and the wind on my face I was ready.
I ended up getting to Zachary’s at 5:35 p.m. and so I went to the book store next door that john had recommended the evening before. That is where I found a book that I would have bought if I had the money with me. An old photography book full of black and white pictures taken with one light source, I fell in love with the book as soon as I looked at the size of the pictures and the detail. All I could think of was, “I want to draw all these pictures in charcoal!” I sat down to view the pictures and every picture was taken perfectly to make a charcoal drawing of them. I checked my phone for the time and it was 5:50 p.m. I left the book in the shelf I got it from and went to Zachary’s on my way out I saw Jun and Justeen crossing the street, I was excited because I wasn’t the only one waiting and said joined them. Right before we got into Zachary’s we saw Elexis come. She joined us and we walked in together, with john nowhere to be seen we ordered a table for 7 which we soon corrected to 8 upon the arrival of our alumni who was joining us.
Jun's Tasty Creation!
We didn’t wait long before john arrived; with the table and seats ready we went and sat down. Chiamaka and Joanne came in later and joined us. We all agreed upon two deep dish pizza pies, the Carne and the chicken, with the addition an experimental awesome invention from Jun, a jalapeno, pesto and salami pizza, YUM. During the dinner we all got to know each other better. We also got to know more about our upcoming adventure at UPenn. We were told many things by our alumni who was kind enough to come and share the evening with us. He told us about his experience at UPenn and gave me and Justeen a heads up about the chilly temperature in the science building. With every detail mentioned my excitement grew. I couldn’t believe how blessed I was to be able to go and spend my summer traveling and learning physics, a dream coming true, I wouldn’t have imagined in my wildest dream as a kid that I would actually get the chance to do this in high school. AWESOME!

It was a wonderful experience to sit down, eat, and talk with my peers who I will spend most of my summer with before we leave. we talked about everything from superheroes to AP scores, from Pizza to Philly Cheese stakes sandwiches, and from hotel room arrangements to events we could sign up for during our time at UPenn. Time flew by and it was soon 7:40 p.m. we had all finished our dinner and were having a conversation about the upcoming trip and how we would have to be at El Cerrito at 3 a.m. With a phone call from my mom I knew it was time for me to leave. I said goodbye to everyone and went to pick up my sisters at my outs house then headed home. I am very grateful to everyone who makes this possible because I know this will be my best summer yet!

Deep Dish Among UPenn's Cohort

I got a little taste of the "Windy City" or the "Chill Town". For those of you who are unaware those are nicknames for Chicago, Illinois. The taste I received were several slices of Chicago-style pizza. ( Don't judge me though.) Our bay area patch of the "Chill town" was Zachary's pizza which is located in Berkeley, California. I have never been nor have I heard of Zachary's before, but one thing I can say is that for my first time trying it they did not disappoint.
Best Deep Dish In Town!!!!!!

As we go and we grow, we learn something new about someone or something everyday. A new thing I learned today was that Jun has a very unique type of taste. As we were eating she shared with me that she can eat a lemon like an orange which is pretty cool and I also learned that she likes her food really spicy. But, then again we have a very agreeable cohort so spiciness was not an issue for the majority of us. I also learned that John is a "foodie" which is awesome because he will always know all the amazing places to eat. 

During our dinner we discussed multiple topics dealing with the East Coast and Pennsylvania itself. For example, we discussed the difference in weather, even though to me it sounds just like bay area and California in general. The reason I believe it is the same is because in places like Sacramento, Antioch, Fresno, etc. it can get up to 100° degrees while in Richmond it is a cool 70°. Mike a former ILCer told us that most of the time when it rains it is still warm outside mean while our dorms are freezing.A freezing dorm isn’t bad when it is scorching hot outside but when you aren’t used to very cool temperatures it can be a problem.

Mike did a great job at describing what we should expect from the weather, he was very detailed. He told us about the outings Penn offered and how he would go on everyone that was available. Mike did an amazing job at raising my excitement for the trip.

Between the food,weather,travel,adventure,curriculum and overall experience I can not wait to go. I am so grateful for having received this opportunity.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Dinner Time Bonding

One day down, 29 more to go! What a way to kick off June. Yesterday we had the ILC orientation for the details of our trip, and today was the dinner with our cohort, as well as our chaperone and an ILC alumni. We had originally planned on having this dinner in May, however, due to our conflicting schedules, we pushed it all the way back to today. Mr. Hillyer, our chaperone, had suggested that we eat at Zachary's, and everyone agreed, so off we went.

Since my mom didn't like driving to unfamiliar places, she dropped off at Jun's house and I hitched a ride with her. Shortly after arriving at her house, we then headed straight to Zachary's. I haven't even heard of this place before, but I was sure that it would be good, because you can never go wrong with pizza.

Jun and I arrived at around 5:50 PM, where we also saw Rudy and Elexis waiting at the front. Surprisingly, we arrived before Mr.Hillyer, but it was no big deal because he shortly arrived after us. The inside of Zachary's was actually surprisingly small. Seating a group of 8 seemed like a difficult task, but our waiter somehow managed. Jun, Elexis, and I sat on the left side of the table, while Mark, an alumni from the ILC, Joanne, and Chiamaka sat on the right, and Rudy and Mr. Hillyer sat on the ends. 

Zachary's deep dish special
Most of our group was feeling rather adventurous today, so we decided to try Jun's special concoction of a pizza made with pesto, jalapenos, and salami. Surprisingly, it tasted pretty good. Even before the rest of our pizza arrived, we were already talking and enjoying each other's company. Mr. Hillyer talked about his past experiences with the ILC, while Mike talked about his summer at Penn. One thing that they both mentioned often was the weather. They said that it would be hot, hot, hot, so I'm trying to mentally prepare myself for this. There was never an awkward moment of silence at our table, and I was pleasantly surprised.

Once our pizza had finally arrived, I was amazed at how massive the deep dish pizza was, and I was only able to eat one slice of it! By the end of dinner, we simply sat and talked some more, in order to give our stomachs a chance to breathe. Shortly after, Rudy and Joanne left, so our group decided to explore the area. There were several other restaurants nearby, and there was even a bookstore that had a jazz band inside! We stayed inside until Elexis had to leave, then we continued walking around. After Elexis, Jun and I were the next to leave.

At the bookstore next to Zachary's
I'm actually glad that we had this dinner before our flight on July 1st, because it gave us a chance to get to know each other more, as well as hear about the experiences at Penn. At first I thought that it would be awkward everyone, but our cohort is filled with amazing people, and I'm positive that we won't have any difficulties with getting along. In fact, I believe we'll all be good friends after all of this, and I couldn't be happier to share this experience with them. I feel like this dinner brought us closer together, even just a little.

Picture time with Elexis and Jun

Deep Dish-n-Talks

I have been thinking about the deep dish pizza ever since I woke up this morning. I glanced at my clock and looked to see that it is five minutes past my routined wake-up time. I crawl out of bed and thus began my get-ready custom: brush, wash, and change. As I descend down the newly vacuumed staircase, I grin. There was a plate full of cooked eggs and "zai". Zai (if this is how you englishize it) is a type of grinded meat found in most Vietnamese sandwiches stores. I grabbed toasts from the toaster and settled down to make my deluxe morning sandwich. I was going to make three sandwiches: two for the morning, and one for the afternoon, but I realized that we have our dinnereon tonight at 6PM so I ended up with two fully condensed sandwiches. I started to browse the Internet hoping for someone to invent a new language or fly to Planet X. Sadly, today's headline did not catch my interest. I went outside to the roaring '97 Avalon outside in our backyard which my mom adjusting her driver's seat. I asked my mom, "You remember that I have a meet-n-greet tonight at 6 right?" She responded, "Don't worry, you've already reminded me enough times this week to let me forget. I'll meet you in house at 5PM.

Today's class seemed to drag to an infinity number of hours as our teacher talked about Aristotle to Confucious to Epicurus. I had not realized that self-realization happens with seven adjustments that come along the way in Western culture. Also we talked about self-cultivation and how it differs in Asian culture than of Western culture. I'm surprised to say that Confucious rarely talks about life after death or whatnot and focuses on the present time. I carried this thought throughout class.

As Justeen's mom pull up on to my driveway, I say hello as Justeen climbs out of the car. We watched a few minutes of TV before my mom said it was time to go to Zachary's Chicago Pizza at Berkeley. We arrived there in scheduled time and met up with Elexis and Rudy. As we entered the restaurant, the smell of tomato sauce activated my adrenaline and almost instantaneously my eyes fired up. I was hungry and ready to eat. Mr. Hillyer talked about our itinerary in more detail than yesterday and I listened closely as I might have left out on yesterday's presentation. We have finalized to visit Rice University and Vanderbilt University over the summer before heading off to University of Pennsylvania.
Chicken special with Root Beer. Yummmmm
Whenever I order something new, my motto is to go weird. Mr. Hillyer decided to get a thin crust jalapeno, pesto, and salami pizza as an appetizer before our 40-50min baked deep dish came out. Both pizzas turned out to be amazing scrumptious and my tummy never felt so glad and full.  The meeting gradually came to an end when most of the pizza got devoured by us. Rudy was the first to be picked up and Joanne walked to her car as we exited out of Zachary's. The remaining cohort went to Pegasus books right next to Zachary's and browsed. There were a group of people tuned in for Jazz Stories Night in the bookstore and I couldn't help but take a picture of this heartwarming atmosphere. 
A community within a community
Now that all the ground work has been done, I wait for July 1st to come so we can fly and learn because that's what all the prep work was for.

Penn Pizza Party

Today was sort of a rough day for me, starting from the moment I woke up. School is ending in a couple of days and I've been dealing with a lot of anxiety pertaining to finals. Somehow, I was able to push all of my problems to the back of my head in order to get myself excited for my Penn dinner. I was nervous about being late because Mr. Hillyer already stated that it was a pet peeve of his. I think I arrived around 5:57 or 5:58 depending on whose clock you were looking at. As I walked into Zachary's, I heard Mr. Hillyer before I saw him. I wasn't paying attention to where I was walking and almost bumped into a waitress carrying two pizzas. Feeling incredibly embarrassed and awkward, I sat down quickly. I accidentally stepped on Rudy's foot as I sat down, but he didn't seem to notice because he was talking to Elexis. 

Everyone was all smiles and laughs as we talked throughout the evening. Mike Vroom, who was with us at the orientation yesterday, joined us again today for our meet and greet. He gave us even more advice on Penn such as always securing our laptops. Mr. Hillyer also provided more information about how not to act like a tourist, the beauty of train stations, and favorite food places. 

books are my favorite companions
After enjoying our wonderful deep dish pizza, we headed out and took a short walk around the Berkeley neighborhood. Rudy was the first to leave so he didn't join us on our short trip to the book store. There was a cute little jazz night happening at the book store. The music was great and I was able to look at some new titles that I might want to read this summer. After the book store, we walked over to a DVD store. Jun, Justeen, Mike, Mr. Hillyer, and I were all geeking out over some films we recognized and talked about other movies that we didn't like. I found it kind of funny that they didn't appreciate Moonrise Kingdom as much as I did but I guess you win some, you lose some. My mom ran a bit late picking me up but it was nice to have a conversation with Mr. Hillyer. 

I'm on the edge of my seat (figuratively) for this summer. It couldn't come soon enough. I can honestly say that we are going to have an amazing time and we're never going to want to leave when that day comes. 

Before We Go....Let's Eat and Fellowship!

Zachary's Pizza the best Chicago pizza in the area! The dinner today was set up to serve as a gathering for all of to get to know one another and discuss events that will happen on the trip. We were joined by Mike today from '13 ILC at Penn. The only thing I was looking forward to today was the dinner; everything else that I did in school didn't make the day better. Can't go wrong with (good) food on a bad day! 

As we were waiting for our food, Mr. Hillyer shortly informed us of what was going to happen on the trip. We are eagerly waiting for our plane tickets and other info but it will come to us soon. Our alum who joined us, Mike, gave short testimony about his experience there and the events he went to. It sounded really awesome and everyone seemed very excited. The first dish that came was a thin crusted pesto-salami-jalepeno pizza; not sure what the name of it was. I was a bit skeptical about it and thought that it wouldn't taste good but when I tried it, it was delicious. I was already half full when the second dish came and it was a sausage, pepperoni, salami, bacon, tomato pizza called Carne. You can never go wrong with bacon. Another deep-dish pizza came after which had chicken, tomato and basil however I did not try it because I was full from eating a slice of the Carne. 

Carne Deep Dish Pizza with an Italian Soda 
As we were eating, Mike said that each week, a program called Summer Bridge would provide us tickets to go see one movie for the week but the movie would have to be decided by the people on our floors. I am extremely excited about this because I know that there are a lot of good movies coming out in the summer. He also informed us that the physics lab is very cold like the dorms and advised us to bring a sweatshirt just in case. Mr. Hillyer and him talked to us a lot about the weather and how it can rain one minute and be sunny the next. They also said that the rain over there is like taking a warm shower except you are outside and it feels really nice. Jun and I gave each other looks because we have experienced weather like this as both of us have been in China; which is also very hot and humid. 

After everyone was done eating, Mr. Hillyer asked for the check and paid with his newly activated credit card hoping that it would work and it worked! We all got lollipops, which is a bonus for kids our age, and everyone took one. Now it's off to play the waiting game again! 29 more days to go! 

Informal Informational Orientation


Today, was the orientation for the trips to the several destinations the cohorts will be going. As any orientation it was informative and well deserved. I not only learned more about what I should bring,borrow and expect but I also learned a lot more about my cohort members. For instance, I learned that my cohort members are funny,very kind and friendly. I figured they were but they have continued to be the same way they were the first time I met them. The only exception is we have all become more talkative, since the interview.

As I was saying about the orientation information, it was well deserved and informative. One of the many things I learned was how early our flight maybe (in some cases we might have to be there for six in the morning). Along with that I learned how much of a stickler for earliness Don is. Also, I found out that John our cohort chaperon is a morning person. Well, to be totally honest I'm not a morning person, but this program will help me to become further equipped with the tools of adult-hood. And a major part of adult-hood is waking up early and managing my own sleep schedule according to John. Although, it isn't something I am used to I am ready to develop a new definition of early and late, because my definition of early is twelve noon on the weekend during the school year but during summer it is probably around one in the evening. From that alone you probably don't even want to know my definition of late.
John discusses the seriousness of punctuality.
At the moment when Don and John where talking about the timing, I was feeling so worried because I know myself. But, I was not going to let that worry me because I had to remind myself that waking up at "crazy times"  was all apart of the experience and opportunity.

In exactly one month, my cohort and I will be on our way to the "Lone-Star State" also known as Texas. To be exact we will be heading to Rice University in Houston, Texas. After that we will be on our way to the " Country Music Capital of the World", Nashville, Tennessee. There we will be visiting Vanderbilt University. Finally, we will be reaching our final destination Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; where we will be attending the University of Pennsylvania.

I believe that I speak for my whole cohort when I say that we can't wait to go to Penn and have the ability to receive and share our wonderful experience( through our blogs) with you all. We are counting down the days right now. I can't wait, I'm so excited.

"Informally Informed"

Our Dream Will Come True Faster Than I Imagined!

Today was like a roller coaster ride with many ups and downs. My alarm went off,” Last week of school! This week will be great no matter what!” I said to myself first thing this morning. Without knowing how shaky my day would be. I got up and worked on school work, since this week is the last week of this school year I set myself a goal to finish strong. Thus my morning started calm and collected I had everything planned out; I would go to school, go to first period and turn in missing assignments for my ITA class and then go to continue with my AP Art Portfolio breath pieces and come home to continue working on school work and get ready early for the evening. It rained so I got a ride to school from my best friend Kenneth, since we always bike to school together. We went to first period and we had a lot of food to eat the whole period. It was a great way to start my morning.
John in Action
Time passed slowly and it was a very relaxing class. The bell rang to dismiss us to lunch, I was full from all the food so I went straight into art class to do art and have a great final day in art class this school year. I love art so I was in a great mood. I thought it would only get better and so time flew and the dismissal bell rang. I went to check in with my AP Spanish and chemistry teachers to make sure I had everything taken care of for the last class. With a smile on my face I skated to the gas station where my mom would pick me up. she told me I had to go pick up my baby sister while she ran some errands I reminded her we had to be at the meeting at 6 and she told me to not worry and so I went to pick up my sister and came home around 3:10 pm I know that time flies and so I called my mom to remind her what time we had to leave. I was getting worried so I decided to watch educational YouTube videos on how to build your own free wind energy station. It was interesting and I thought about it and imagined myself doing it during summer and fell asleep in no time. It was horrible because when I woke up it was 5:25 pm.  

I found myself in a race against time I felt a little mad at myself but I realized I had no time to be mad because I had to be at the orientation in less than half an hour. I dashed to the bathroom and took the shortest shower by far this year. I got dressed and with 20 minutes sparing I got on the car and drove with my mom to Pinole high school. I tried to go as fast as possible while doing so safely and legally. The freeway was filled with cars and the traffic was moving slow. “Oh no!” I thought to myself but I had not given up hope. I  When I got there I was frustrated because I realized I was at the wrong place and it was 6:02 pm. I was late and I remembered the email said “Pinole middle school, NOT HIGH SCHOOL!” I was mad at myself and hurried to what I thought was Pinole middle school. It felt like the longest drive ever. John called me to ask about where I was and to give me a word about being prepared and punctual something I had failed at today. Feeling devastated I ended up at De Anza high school thinking it was Pinole middle school. I had been there with Don before so it was a familiar place and so I thought that was where we would have the orientation. In the stress and chaos of running late I had forgotten that that was a high school and not a middle school.

'15 ILC Penn Group
Any hope I had left escaped upon the realization of this mistake I had made. I was frustrated and mad at myself. I promised myself I would prepare more in the future and read every part of the emails sent to me by Don and the ILC. We finally made it to the orientation and I hurried in. I talked to Don and apologized for being late. Don accepted my apology and asked where I went after Pinole; I told him De Anza it was very embarrassing because I should have known better. He guided me into the room where I Penn was and I went and sat down as quietly as I could. I was the last person there. I came in and I was given the rough draft schedule for the summer at Penn. John talked to us about the things we would do and how we were going to go about them. He warned us it would be hot. I like wearing shorts so I was excited about it. He also talked about how wonderful the city was and safe and fun Penn was. The rough draft schedule started on July 1st this made me excited because we are one month away! We went off to the packing review Don would give us and I apologized to John for being late. Don did a great job explaining all the things we would need for the summer and what we could borrow from the ILC. It was awesome and it made me happy. Especially since I had such a horrible commute and almost gave up on finding it. Thank you John for helping me get to Pinole middle school and I am sorry for being late. Thank you for your kind words upon my late arrival Don, it helped me relax when I was so tense and stressed. This was a good lesson to learn, I won’t let this mistake happen again. Once again sorry to John and Don and to all my peers for my late arrival.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Almost There! 30 Days Left!

Finals, last week of school, SAT on Saturday, Ivy League Connection Orientation...  Phew! This week is just full of events! I can't believe that all those events have passed! I still look back at interview on March 2, the dinner at Kuleto's on May 14 and the school board meeting on May 20 thinking that all these events just happened yesterday. Today marked the end of our Ivy League Connection events and now we play the waiting game. 

I arrived at the Pinole Middle School at 5:45 P. M. today and once my mom and I check in, I found my cohort immediately. I was pleased to see that I was not the only one there and I wasn't late! As Mr. Hillyer, our chaperone, says "If you are on time you are late but if you are 30 minutes early then you are on time." At the orientation, we saw the items Don has to loan to students and I was amazed to see how much stuff he owns and lends to students. I admire how much work he is putting into this program and it's a bonus that he can also provide things we need for the trip like luggages, laptops, lamps, etc. Today was the day for questions and all questions were welcomed. It was nice to see some ILC alumni's come back and speak to the cohort they were previously in. 
Penn Group! "We are all in this together"
About 30 minutes into the orientation, every cohort went into a different classroom that had their school flag. In the UPENN group, Mr. Hillyer informed the parents of what we were going to do while we are over in the East Coast. It kind of a shock for the parents learn that we have not booked our plane tickets yet since the summer is usually the busiest time of the year for traveling. Everyone asked questions and Mr. Hillyer was very descriptive every time he answered a question. Chiamaka had to go over to the classroom which housed Vanderbilt's cohort to serve as an alumni. We had two ILC alums (whose name I didn't quite catch) who shared their experience at Penn and assured us that we will have a lot of fun. An hour later, Don came knocking at our door telling us that it was time to back into the Multipurpose room so that he could inform parents when the items will be available to loan out. In the process, some parents asked questions and Don answered them. After the meeting was done, my cohort took a group photo since people were taking pictures with Don and we felt the need to take one too. 
Alums from previous ILC years 

Orientation Imitation

Today was the final ILC milestone before we depart to our respective schools. I don't think that there is a single word in the English language that can accurately describe how excited I am to be going to UPenn this summer. I'll start with "ecstatic," even though it's a monumental understatement. I was a bit scared for today because Don made it very clear to all of the ILC cohort members that we were expected to bring a parent, unfortunately both my parents had to work today and were unable to attend; luckily Don allowed my sister to take the place of my parents which I appreciated very much. 

The ILC members of Hercules high school continued our tradition of celebrating Don during the Orientation because...why not? Don does so much for the Ivy League Connections, there is so many little details that he handles that we might not even notice and this was our own way of thanking him, and showing him that he is appreciated. We all channeled our inner Don by wearing aloha t-shirts.
Imitation is the best form of flattery

Midway through the orientation, we broke out into our cohorts and we discussed a "rough-draft" itinerary for our trip in July. This is Mr. Hillyer's fourth time chaperoning the Penn group so he's pretty much a pro at this. He told us that the week before our classes start is going to be the most hectic; he and I similar in a way that we both like a little bit of controlled chaos in the mix. I'm mostly excited to party like it's 1776 on 4th of July!! We were lucky enough to have Alex Elms and Michael Vroom join us during our break out session. They are ILC alumna who went to Penn during the summer of '11 and '13. They told us a little bit about their time in Penn and the different activities that Penn makes available for anyone who wants it. I'm determined to go to a live baseball game if that's an option this summer. 
Penn group >

During our little break out, I was pulled away to give some tips to the Vanderbilt Cohort. I have to admit that I got a bit too nostalgic while talking about my adventures in Vandy, but it was fantastic to be able to reminisce all the memories and relive the stories as I told them. I think the Vanderbilt cohort is a great group of people and they are going to have an amazing time. Being able to talk about my memories inspired me to make new ones this summer with the amazing group of people that I've been blessed to be with.

After our break out, we all met again in the cafeteria and discussed loaner items. Seeing all the items on display perpetuated my excitement for this summer. Our flight to Houston leaves 30 days from today. The countdown begins...NOW

The Countdown Begins

As I lay in my bed enjoying my summer, I began thinking about how time is going by so quickly. When my semester had ended, I thought that this would be the longest summer I would have to endure because my trip to the East coast seemed like a faraway dream, but time is moving faster than I had expected. 

Tonight was the night of our final ILC event, which was hard to believe. Since I was afraid of coming late, I actually came at 30 minutes early, and once I arrived at Pinole Middle School, I began walking towards the multipurpose room. I signed in and sat down at one of the tables near the front of the room. One by one, the room started to become filled with the ILC participants, as well as their parents. It was amazing to see how many people were actually in the room.

A few of the loaner items
Since I came earlier than everyone, I had some time to look at a few items that Don had laid out on a separate table. There were several things that ranged from blankets, to portable fans, and I honestly wondered if all of those items would actually fit in my suitcase. I didn't even know how big my suitcase should be, but luckily Don had also put out several suitcases as examples.

The meeting itself was very informative, because I was clueless as to how I should even prepare for this trip. Once Don finished with the introductions of everything, each cohort then went to different rooms, and our chaperones further discussed the details of our trips. For the PENN cohort, our chaperone, Mr. Hillyer, as well as several ILC alumni enthusiastically spoke about their past experiences when they traveled to the East coast, which made me even more excited for what's to come. I just keep on imagining myself inside the dorms or the classrooms, as I hear more stories about others’ experiences.

The wonderful chaperones
On July 1st, I would actually be getting on an airplane to our first stop in Texas. Afterwards, we would be heading over to Pennsylvania to visit Vanderbilt, as well enjoy the 4th of July in Philadelphia. In theory, everything seems so structured and organized, but I’m just hoping that my first few days won’t be too hectic, seeing that we have so many places to visit with so little time.

After learning about the details of where we would be traveling to and what to expect once we arrive, everyone joined up again in the multipurpose room, where Don talked about what exactly we should be bringing. I'm actually really thankful that the ILC is able to loan so many items to students, and it really is helpful for everyone. 

I am so thankful for this amazing opportunity that I have been given, and I will definitely not waste it. Knowing that I get to attend a course at UPENN in a month is something that I never even thought I would be doing. After having this meeting, I can finally know what to expect, and how to prepare for everything. At last, the countdown of the days until I takeoff begins. 

The lovely UPENN cohort

Prep Work: Done

Today is June 1st, which also means that exactly one month later I, along with the rest of the UPenn cohort, will be hopping on the plane to Houston, Texas.

School has been out for me since the 20th of last month, but I decided to not waste a perfectly unplanned month before the UPenn summer study so I signed up for a philosophy class at my neighboring community college. What Contra Costa College does best is that they offer a summer intersession course and the philosophy class happens to be one of them; this suits my needs perfectly. The intense three week philosophy course will be a warm-up to the upcoming Social Justice Academy.

After getting out of my philosophy class at 1PM, I positioned myself an enclosed space in the San Pablo library, immersed into a new series I had found recently; the Lorien Legacies. I realized that by the time my phone rang at 5PM, I had already finished three-fourths of the first book. I decided to check out the sequel so I'll have an extra in case I finish the first book before tomorrow. My mom called promptly at 5:15PM and I headed out to the parking lot to search for my mom's whereabouts. It took me a few minutes but eventually I found the '97 Avalon camouflaged in the rows of cars.

At 6PM, the ILC orientation officially started with Don giving a speech with his aloha trademark shirt with khaki shorts. Most of the ILCers are already familiar with the information but a refresher does not hurt. Our parents, on the other hand, is probably updating not only their cell phones but also their notepads while Don is giving us the brief itineraries for participating schools. After about a good half hour, we then got split into classrooms with our cohort members. Mr. Hillyer was amazing as he started right away by assuring our parents that we'd be in safe hands. Immediately my mom's shoulders soften. Everyone asked questions related to our trip and I think after the group talk we all felt more prepared for what's to come. Chiamaka stepped out as she was part of the Vanderbilt cohort last year so she went across the hallway and shared her experience with the current Vanderbilt cohort.

We gathered once again back to the main multipurpose room and that's when we got to see Don's Items. Don understands that not everybody has traveled before so he had his whole display of items to take on loan. I window-shopped for a bit and realized that I should probably borrow some of Don's Twin XL bedsheets!

Our cohort has agreed to meet tomorrow for our pre-trip dinnereon at Zachary's Deep Dish Pizza. I can't wait until we discuss more specifics and boy, am I excited!
From left to right: Rudy, Chiamaka, Mr. Hillyer, Elexis, Justeen, Myself, and Joanne

Nerve wrecking School board Meeting

One Nerve Wrecking Moment, Success!
Wednesday morning, it was a regular morning like any other, but there was something I was forgetting. Something important that I had been waiting for, I couldn’t recall what it had been. I got ready for school and checked my calendar, that’s when it hit me! I had totally forgotten about the board meeting. I reminded my mother immediately and she told me she couldn’t go because she had to take care of my two younger sisters. School once again flew by because I was really nervous and exited to go to the board meeting and give my speech. I had no speech written out but I had been thinking about the moment when I went up in front of the board and the people present to talk about all the wonderful things of the ILC and Penn University.

Gentlemen's Club ILC 2015!
It was 2:30pm and the last bell rang, I walked home exited for later on that evening, we were supposed to meet at Lovonya Middle School at 5:50pm. I was relaxed because I live very close to Lovonya and my mother was supposed to give me a ride. When I got home around 3:10pm I was even more exited! I ate dinner and waited 30 minutes to take a shower and get ready. I put on my suit and tie and I was ready. I reminded my mom about the board meeting and she told me I would have to drive myself because she was busy taking care of my two younger sisters. I kept calm and told her that it was okay. She then asked me to run an errand after she took a phone call from my uncle and I said I would and so I made a quick stop to the store that wasn’t so quick because by the time I had gotten back home it was about to be 6 pm.

Gentlemen's Club 2015
I rushed into the house to leave the things she needed, gave her a kiss on the cheek and left to the board meeting. John called to check on me when I had gotten on the wrong parking lot and I told him I was there but I hadn’t parked the car yet. I was worried and rushing to get to the right parking lot. In the excitement the position door where we were supposed to go into had slipped out of my mind but I quickly remembered because of the three people that were talking outside the door. I hurried in and the sight of my peers relieved my worries and stress. I noticed Elexis was missing. I got worried but my peers told me she was running late like me and she would be there soon. We were called to a quick meeting with my peer Penn summer students by our chaperon John and we talked about what we would do once we got called. He also mentioned my speech. I got worried and nervous because I didn’t get to putting my thoughts into words. With the guidance of my chaperon I had an outline to my speech before we went to sit down with our group.

Our Wonderful ILC Sponsors
We were the second to last group that was called and each passing group was amazing and had a nice presentation, it made me proud because I realized I was very privileged to have those bright young people as my peers. But it also made me scared because all the speeches were awesome and I was afraid I wouldn’t compare. Finally we were up, my heart dropped but with the help John had given me I know I wasn’t going to fail. We went up, unrolled our Penn flag to represent and John introduced us and our program and my speech. Oh so soon It came, a nerve wrecking moment scared and nervous I went up and gave the speech, I talked about the three things me and my peers were looking forward to this summer. They were the various cultures and people we would meet, our exposure to new colleges we wouldn’t have had the chance to visit and learn about if it wasn’t for the ILC and finally the reflection blogs we would be writing every day. Somehow I got through the speech and I thanked our sponsors and everyone who made it possible for us to have this amazing opportunity this summer.
ILC Class of 2015!!!

We ended with a group picture of the whole ILC students and parents, the guys, we were outnumbered by far and so we decided to take a group picture together, the gentlemen’s club as we called it was created. It was an amazing experience and AWESOME! I went home and did homework for a long time; I have been finally finishing up. THANK YOU EVERYONE WHO MADE THIS POSSIBLE FOR US!!!!!!!!!!!!!!