Wednesday, July 29, 2015

From the Beginning to the End

Looking back with my experience in the Ivy League Connection, it seems like it was all in the distant past. I recall first applying to this program in my Sophomore year, but unfortunately, I was unable to get in. I was not discouraged by this, so I kept on pursuing this goal, and the following year, I applied once again to two of the programs offered. Thankfully, I was able to become a part of the UPenn cohort where I would be able to study Physics in the University of Pennsylvania. 

From the beginning...
However, being accepted into the ILC did not necessarily guarantee that I was in the summer program itself, so I was back to writing more essays and filling out more forms. Thanks to Don, I was also accepted into UPenn, and I was able to continue with my ILC journey. All in all, I was definitely surprised that I had gotten this far because I had doubted myself far too much, but this experience had allowed me to gain more confidence not only in myself, but in my writing as well. I can't say that it was all smooth sailing, but my efforts were definitely worthwhile. With this once in a lifetime opportunity, I was able to go to the East Coast and gain new experiences I had never even dreamed of, even if it was only for three weeks.

For starters, I was able to make amazing bonds with people that I hadn't even known in the beginning of March. We grew close and supported each other throughout this entire experience, and I couldn't have asked for a better cohort. In our first meeting at the dinner at Kuleto's, I couldn't even openly talk to them, but it's amazing how far we've come in such a short amount of time. 

Through this program, I was also able to travel and see more of the world, even if it was just in the United States. I had gone out of country before, but prior to this summer, I had never been to any other state other than California. However, in just the span of three weeks, I was able to travel to six different states. Our first stop had been in Texas, and despite the thunderstorms, I was able to see Rice University. Then, we had continued to Georgia to visit Emory University, and we finally went to Pennsylvania as our last stop. For these few days of travelling, I was able to see the gorgeous campuses of these universities, and it made me realize how broad our world is. I hadn't actually thought about applying to schools in the East Coast, but this has definitely changed my perspective.

Of course, it wasn't all fun and games. Once I had finally arrived at UPenn, I was ready to get down to business, but my class was not as I had expected. Instead of just boring lectures and memorization, my class was taught by four wonderful professors that had made learning fun while allowing me to attain a deeper understanding of physics, which I know will help me in the future as I continue to study in the STEM fields. However, in this class, learning was a group effort. Because of this, I was able to work with students from different backgrounds, which can be a challenge at times. Regardless of that, I was able to adapt and learn from others, not just about physics, but also about themselves. I had even met people from all over the world, such as Turkey and China. It was nice hearing from others that have a completely different background from you.

I had such a wonderful experience at UPenn, and I know these memories of my summer will  never fade. I would never have had this opportunity without the ILC, so I'm very thankful to all of the sponsors and to Don as well because they made this a possibility. I was able to learn and experience so many things, and I am truly grateful that I was able to be a part of this amazing program. Prior to this, I had never even thought of applying to the University of Pennsylvania, but I fell in love with the atmosphere and the school itself, and I know for a fact that I am applying. Yes, I know that I have been going on and on about how wonderful this program is, and I'll definitely be bragging (just a little) to my friends about this experience, but at least I'll be able to tell them about these new doors that have been opened for me. It may be the end of my ILC journey, but it's also the beginning of a new chapter in my life. the end

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

With an Ending Marks a New Beginning

As I recall back to the night of the interview, I was, then, studying for my Differential Equations midterm the next day while prepping for the interview. When my name was called by the panelists, I was grinning from ear-to-ear. The moment was priceless and I would do anything to relive it. The Ivy League Connection taught me infinite amount of things but the first (the one that I'll remember forever) was to always try. You NEVER know of the outcome unless you try. Many of my friends were skeptical about themselves on whether or not they'll get in so they ended up not trying. I was influenced at one point in time but later it clicked to me that I should just go ahead and give it a shot. Also, the all-n-mighty Don convinced me pretty well too! Because of my decision of applying to the ILC, I was able to meet these wonderful folks that had spent their summer with me.
The ILC gave me the opportunity to try new things, and to experiment with them. Never, ever, would I have spoke in front of massive sponsors of a non-profit organization if it wasn't for Don's persuading emails of encouragement. Don does not directly list out the benefits and words of wisdom out for you on a sheet of paper, but he makes sure we understand that great things come with great efforts. If I hadn't spoke at the University of Pennsylvania dinner at Kuleto's, I probably would not have spoke during my time at UPenn. Then, what's the use of taking Social Justice if you can't even probably collect your thoughts and convey them to a larger crowd?

Before heading to Pennsylvania, we visited Rice and Emory University. When we flew to Houston, the thunderstorm was following us close behind thus resulting in our four hour delay. Because of this, we missed the info session and campus tour of Rice. When we had finally arrived, though, we did a mini-tour of Rice ourselves. It wasn't exactly the nicest weather to be greeted upon but I did get to see some of Rices' interior and talked to a graduate scholar at Rice. We left Houston buoyantly for Atlanta, our next and last stop before Philly. Emory was wonderful; it is wonderful. The setting made me felt at ease and I loved the atmosphere there. Is is bound to be on my apply-to's for this fall.
A Welcome Just For Me
Upon checking into UPenn, we arrived in Philly two days earlier to check out the city. The vibe of the streets were not as busy as a typical run down the streets of UC Berkeley, but it sure had the "walk with purpose" people pushing you around even if you didn't even bump into them. I guess people in the East coast has to walk three strides every second whereas I, whose from California would be walking one stride per second. The adjustment was hard to make at first, but Mr. Hillyer definitely did prep us for it. Now I have learned to properly get out of anyone's way, whether you're out getting a sandwich at Wawa's or lining up for the Septa. All the visits we did in Philly for social justice helped out as well.

The Social Justice class was taught by the amazing professors; Andy Lamas, Tony Monteiro and Michael Nairn. Their experiences of being social studies professors at UPenn makes it undeniably hard to not learn a lot from them. The questions they arise in class for us to think about is phenomenal because we can't answer it immediately (at least I can't). There's no definite solution to racism, there's not an exact way to stop discrimination, but there are ways in which everyone can work together as one and decrease the amount of racism and discrimination happening. When one decides to do something about it to create a better future, another will follow their lead and it will create a chain of positiveness. I am ready to embark onto the already massive chain and add onto it. The ILC has showed me a door in which I may have a chance to go into; this class has led me to the doorknob and now, it's time for me to open the door.
A Happy Cohort :)


Last year, I was not able to obtain a scholarship from the Ivy League Connection. This was my second time applying to the social justice program and this time, I was able to make it. These three weeks have been the best three weeks of my life. I never thought that I would be able to obtain so much information in three weeks. The course has changed how I look at society for the better and I can say that I am much more open minded than before. 

The reason why I decided to apply for the social justice is because I wanted to learn more about how society works and why there are so many issues in the world. I never thought that Social Justice could be such a broad topic. During the three weeks, we have talked about racism, LGBTQ, political issues around the world, issues at home, and much more. As controversial as these topics are, many are not well informed about the things that are happening in right now in the world we live in. It's almost like it's a taboo if we talk about these issues. This class made me realize that the root of all the problems start with us. If we do not change our mindset, how can society be a better place for people to live in? 

 The amount of diversity in this class is incredible. We had people from all over the world come over to Pennsylvania just to take this class. Everyone represented something different and I think that was what made this class so unique.  My only regret is that I wish I talked to my classmates more because I know that some of them were the wisest teenagers I have ever met. 

I know that I say this a lot but the amount of knowledge I gained these three weeks is unbelievable. Everyday we learn something new. We've had guest speakers come in and speak almost everyday of the three weeks and it was great to hear about what they had to say. Some of the issues the guest speakers and students were talking about I had no idea still existed; perhaps I didn't pay close enough attention to it so I became ignorant about it. I feel like I have become more socially aware of problems now and I want to use this profound knowledge towards something great. I feel so blessed to have this amazing opportunity and truly grateful. 

At the Eastern State Penitentiary
 Photo credits: Elexis Webster

Monday, July 27, 2015

An Unforgettable Summer

They say that time flies when you’re having fun, and I can certainly vouch for that statement. My time in the East coast left me with unforgettable memories and experiences that I probably would’ve never had without this program. This was my first, and last year participating in the Ivy League Connection, and I never actually thought that I would even be accepted. This entire experience felt like such a dream to me, and I’m glad that I was able to participate in this wonderful program.

Initially, I had chosen to apply to Vanderbilt, but I wasn’t able to get in, so afterwards, I applied  to the Physics program in the University of Pennsylvania. This program was actually the one that intrigued me the most because physics is a subject that has always piqued my curiosity. I truly enjoy learning about physics, but I knew that this course was going to be a challenge, since it was an actual college course. Unlike the very basic courses that I had previously taken, this class had delved deeper into physics and went beyond the basics. It challenged me to apply what I learned into the real world instead of using nice problems with easy solutions. 

This course had taught me that the world is definitely not perfect, and that there are always uncertainties within the world. Each calculation that a person has made cannot always be perfect, and error is always apparent, but that doesn't stop us from learning more and more about the world through the use of science. Even some of the great scientists have made errors in their discoveries, but it's these errors that have pushed science to where it is now. As my professor, Bill, says, "The mark of a true genius is about making all of the mistakes before everyone else." Well, I sort of paraphrased because I can't quite remember the exact phrase, but you get the idea. Anyways, I'm truly grateful to have participated in this program. I was able to learn with the use of sophisticated equipment that my school has never offered, and with each lab that I had done, I was able to understand each concept a little bit more. In the beginning of the class, we had started off with the basics of mechanics, but eventually I even learned that Newton's 2nd Law of Motion was actually simplified when it's first being taught. Eventually, we had moved onto electricity and circuits, and I was even able to measure the speed of light. (Not to brag, but my group attained the closest measurement.) I learned so much from this course in just three weeks, and not only from the professors, but from the lab assistants and the students as well.

The main goal of the Ivy League Connection was to be able to interact with others from different backgrounds, and that's exactly what I did. I had met so many different people coming from various places, and it was fascinating to learn about their experiences. I had even become friends with someone from Turkey! The world is so big, and I've learned to truly appreciate everyone that I meet.

After this course had ended, I know that I had changed for the better. I became more independent and outgoing, which is such a contrast to my personality before the program. I remember when I first went into the shuttle in El Cerrito High School, I was too introverted to talk much. Eventually, I had realized that it was perfectly fine to say what was on my mind, and throughout the three weeks, I had changed, even just a little. I became more open to trying new things, just as when I had traveled around for the first few days, and I was also able to open my eyes to how broad our world is.

My experiences in this course had allowed me to learn so many things, even if it was a short amount of time. New topics had always risen with everyone that I had met, and I was actually able to live as a college student for a short while. The University of Pennsylvania allured me with its great atmosphere, so now, I'm definitely thinking of applying. I don't think I could ever forget any of the great memories I made during this entire experience.

And It Comes to an End

Just thinking about how how much time we spent this summer productively, I can't help but to pat myself on the back and said, " You made it!" This program in particular has made me more observant about the intricate details of our society. There are so many things to take into account when just reading an article on New York Times or the Huffington Post. Articles are written by human beings, and everyone will be biased one way or another. It is up to the reader to define the article and determine if that's what we want to believe in. 
A cheesetake shop @ South Philly promoting modern-day racism
The Social Justice Academy started off with a bang on the most controversial topics: LGBQT, contemporary slavery, usage of drones abroad, etc. For the first week we went into the logistics of LGBQT identified persons around the world who have been or are being discriminated because they do not follow the "norms" of society. What exactly is a norm? A societal norm, then it must be that people living in "society" would have to create those norms. If it is, then is it right to tell others how we "should" behave? The questions at hand are what you normally do not discuss in our local communities so openly. However, the lively and non-judging atmosphere this class has created made me feel like my voice mattered; and it did. I began to articulate my voice on some of the most sensitive cases around the world. There's bound to be people who opposes your thoughts and/or ideas and that's okay. Learning from criticism is a step to broaden one's horizon and also teaches us to not get controlled by perception. 

We then led to various visits and explored across Philadelphia to know a little more about the nation's first capital. We visited the Magic Gardens where Isaiah Zagar created such an amazing house full of mirages of artistic perceptions. He made the murals to represent that there could be incorporation of different art styles into formed art to create new products, just like how there could be different kinds of people cohabiting happily and emitting a friendly environment. I enjoyed every single trip of the program and it has been a great pleasure to be able to get in touch with such incredible people doing amazing things. 
Even the largest corporations contain injustice and shows it
On the third week, that's when things got really interesting for me. We started to get into different regions around the world and what their issues are. The Umbrella Movement of Hong Kong was what caught my attention. This is undeniably a big movement in East Asia and most definitely looked at when studying the relations between Mainland and Hong Kong. The feud between the two territories of China has always been there, and now it's on the rise as more and more miscommunications and misunderstandings generate. The political systems of both territories are flawed and should be the one at fault. But wait, should it be or should it not? The records show that what the citizens of Hong Kong want is for Mainland citizens to stop buying all the products in HK and leave some for locals. Going a little back after the SARS, HK promoted their products especially to Mainland folks for them to purchase. What's the deal there? Because of the booming economy in HK, they don't need the sales anymore? It's such a complicated issue and at hand there is no definite solution. I did not agree to some terms in which the student speaker presented during that time, but I understand that coming from an Mainland point-of-view, I would be somewhat leaned towards their side whereas the speaker is from HK. 
After taking this course, I felt better informed about many topics going on around the world but it is definitely not to say that I am informed about every topic, because everyday, you're learning new things and changing your views. 
From left to right: Chiamaka, me, Elexis, and Joanne

Me As a Changed Person

I remember turning in my essay for this program with expectations on how the program would work. I participated in the Ivy League Connections last year and it was the best summer of my life. With this in mind, I was very excited to have another amazing summer. If I hadn't gotten into the Med School program in Vanderbilt last year, Social Justice was my second choice so it was amazing to do the two programs that I wanted the most. 

It was an honor being his studen
The Social Justice class appealed to me the most this year because I think that social justice is completely relevant right now in light of the recent police killings. I am a race that is being targeted and there is little to no justice; I thought that educating myself on these issues is one of the best ways to protect myself. The class was not what I expected but I completely fell in love with the class after day one. At first, I was a bit intimidated by the class because there was a required reading and I didn't finish; I thought that this would put me behind everyone else, but I was wrong. The class was pleasantly surprising in a way that I didn't expect. I imagined it to be completely structured and planned out to the T. It was nothing like I imagined. We touched on many different social issues sporadically. We learned about these issues through the means of art, plays, lectures, site visits, and in class workshops. There was so many opportunities to learn about a certain topic. 

I've always considered myself a self aware and socially aware person; but this summer I learned that that's only half the battle. It's one thing to be aware of a problem, it's a completely different thing to take action. I think that my biggest take away from the Social Justice was learning how to be an activist. I met a group of teenagers in South Philadelphia who were fighting tooth and nail to keep their schools open. I found inspiration in their passion for education equality. I've always been aware that some kids are provided with a better education than others but I never thought that there was anything I could do about it. Once school starts, I'm going to take my community service clubs to the next level. I'm vice President for my school's interact club and I plan to change the meaning of community service. It's more than just cleaning up a park, it's about making sure equity is accessible. It's making sure that we don't take injustices sitting down. 

On the social side of the program, I have to admit that I didn't put in much effort in making new friends. I talked to my roommate and some of my classmates but I didn't really talk to anyone outside of that. One of the reasons for this is because I made really good friends last year at Vanderbilt and it was heartbreaking leaving them behind. I wasn't brave enough to go through that kind of pain again this year. I don't think that it's fun to become so close to someone in such a short amount of time just to never talk to them in person ever again. Life is cruel like that. The people I did talk to enlightened me beyond belief. I met a transgender male named Jason who made me aware of all the problems and injustices in the Transgender community. He was so outspoken and was open to answering any and all questions that I had. I met a Jewish girl named Sarah who was very outspoken on the Israel-Palestine problem. I also learned about the internal issues with China and its territories. One of the most mind blowing facts I learned was that Taiwan wasn't a country. Taiwan is a territory of China. There is no way I would have learned all of this without this program. I can honestly say that I can work with different people now because I have.

I think this is the hardest blog to write because I know I've changed but it's hard to describe how. The change in me is too abstract, and words won't help readers grasp how black lives matter to me even more than it did before. It won't describe my newly ignited passion with mass incarceration, feminism, athlete rights, hip hop, immigration, and countless other things. I'll finish off with pictures that will help describe my odyssey this summer better than I can. 


West Coast Best Coast

Today was the official move out day. I woke up early to finish up packing and to also finish last minute laundry. As I walked in and out of my building, I witnessed people leaving. I said my final goodbyes to people. It's a really weird to think that I would never see them ever again after spending such a short but intense time with them. I said goodbye to my friend Manit from Thailand, Sara from China, Sierra from London and much more. We're all from drastically different places and fate brought us together just to tear us apart. 

John arrived in a van around 10 o'clock and we packed our things in the back and headed to the airport. As we drove to the airport, I looked out the window and saw the city passing by me for the last time. The 15 minute drive was bittersweet. As we checked in our luggage, my check in bag weighed 48.5 pounds which was very close to the 50 limit. As we waited for our flight, we stopped by a restaurant called Chickie and Petes and I had lobster for the first time. While on the flight, Elexis, Jun, and I went through our pictures laughing at the many memories we made. 

We landed in Phoenix and had a delayed flight. We stopped by for some Mexican food. I had steak tacos. I can now say that I've eaten in six different states in the span of 4 weeks.  We boarded our final flight to Oakland and I think that's when it finally hit me that all the fun is over. I won't be hanging out my cohort as often as we did in Philadelphia. When we landed in Oakland, we all got together for a giant group hug. I'm going to really miss this and it's going to be hard starting a new daily routine that doesn't include them. 

We got into the van that would drive us to El Cerrito. The drive was very quiet. When we arrived, it was very refreshing to see my dad for the first time in a month. He loaded in my luggage while Don welcomed us back. It felt really good to be home.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

When Reality Sets In

I woke up today at 8:00 AM to pack for my trip back home. I heard people leaving in early in the morning today and it seemed so unreal. The hallway was so quiet and I couldn’t hear the laughter and liveliness anymore. As sad as it is, this is reality. Time flies and people have to move on. My roommate woke up the same time as I did but she was leaving later than me. Luckily for me, I can contact her when I go to China since we live in the same city there. I said bye to my RC for the last time and some of my floor mates before I had to leave. "This is the last time I will talk down this hallway" I thought to myself before heading outside. 

Last time I will hold these
I saw the cohort outside the Quadrangle and it was like day one all over again. People were running around getting their luggage into their cars. I returned my keys back and waited for Mr. Hillyer with the cohort. Mr. Hillyer came at about 10:15 AM and we had our luggage loaded onto the taxi. When we arrived at the airport, Mr. Hillyer took us inside to check in our luggage. One by one, the luggage was weighed and then put on the conveyor belt. When I saw that my luggage was overweight by 5 pounds I was really surprised. I had to quickly take some stuff out of my luggage and transfer it into Rudy's luggage bag. Rudy saved the day and my luggage was 5 pounds lighter. Justeen offered to take my pillow and put it on her carry on case and I was forever thankful. Jun was the only person who got TSA pre-check and all of us had to stand in line.

We went to go eat at a famous restaurant chain in Philadelphia called Chickie's and Petes. A lot of the food was seafood based, which I had no problem with. I ordered a lobster roll and it was really good but had a little too much salt. After we were done eating, some went to go buy souvenirs and others sat down by the gate. At 1:30 PM, we started to board the plane. I sat next to Justeen and we slept through almost half the flight. After I woke up, I turned on my computer and wrote my room description. By the time I was done, Justeen woke up and I asked if she wanted to watch a movie. We watched How to Train Your Dragon 2. When little kids walked past us, they would stop for a second to see what we were watching, probably because we were watching a kid movie. Shortly after we were done with the movie, the plane started to descend.

Going to Oakland
We landed in Phoenix, around 4 PM local time (7 PM in Pennsylvania's time)  and it was 108 degrees outside. Although there was air conditioning inside the airport, I still took off my Penn sweatshirt. Mr. Hillyer took us to a Mexican restaurant for lunch/dinner. I shared a sandwich with Justeen because I wasn't too hungry. We still had an hour left before we had to board our flight to Oakland so some of us walked around the airport to see what there was. I went back to the gate and tried to find an outlet to charge my computer. Unfortunately, all the outlets were taken and I could not plug my computer. We boarded the flight at around 5:45 PM. The flight was around an hour and a half to two hours. This time I sat next to Chiamaka. I slept for thirty minutes on the flight and then watched another movie on my computer. The flight did not feel very long and before I knew it, we were landing. We arrived at Oakland airport around 8 PM local time (11 PM in Pennsylvania's time) and left the airport at around 9 PM.

The first person we saw was Don and then the parents. Parents ran up to their children and welcomed them home. Don took one final group picture of us and I knew that this officially concluded our trip. All of us were very sad that we couldn't spend more time with each other but we agreed to hang out once more later next week before Jun and Justeen start school. We said our goodbyes and gave each other a hug. The bonds we created with each other are very strong and I don't think that it will get weaker. I believe that we are more than friends; we are a family.

Home Sweet Home

Departure day was here, and today was probably the last time I’ll be in Philadelphia, unless I get accepted into UPenn. I stayed up rather late last night because I still had to pack most of my things. I ended up finishing packing mostly everything at around 2:30 AM, so I was dead tired. Luckily, I didn’t have to be outside of the Quad until 10 AM today, so I had the luxury to sleep in a little. The problem was, however, that I woke up at around 6:30 AM for no apparent reason. Chiamaka had called me a couple minutes before I had woken up because she wanted to get the laundry detergent, but my phone was on silent, so there was no way that that was the reason I woke up. Anyways, after I gave her the detergent, I was able to fall asleep again, but I periodically woke up. I eventually gave up at around 7:30 AM, and I just continued to pack the rest of my things.

I finished with everything by around 8:30 AM, and I was already dressed and ready to go for the day. I had a lot of free time at this point, so I just walked around the hallways and said goodbye to those on my floor. I first went to Catherine’s room and I just talked with her for a little bit. Then, we all hanged out for a little bit in Shirley and Kalpana’s room before I finally had to go outside of the Quad. They made my days in the dorm very noisy, but also very fun. I’ll miss seeing them running around the hallways before our floor time. I actually became really close to all of the girls on my floor, and it’s sort of weird to think that I won’t see them anymore, but who knows what could happen in the future.

The ending is just like how it all started

I went outside at around 9:45 AM, and Jun and Elexis were already standing outside. I returned my keys, and one by one, the rest of the cohort came outside. Mr. Hillyer didn’t come until around 10:15 AM, so we just stood in the shade. While waiting, I saw my RC, Kerri, and I said my goodbye to her. It was so sad leaving everyone that I had known for the past three weeks, but I was also excited to finally be back home, so I was having serious mixed feelings. Once the shuttle arrived, we all got in and headed to the airport.

When we arrived, we unloaded our things and did our usual airport routine. First, we went to check-in our things, then we went through security. Jun was the only one that had been TSA approved, so she had an easier time than me. When I was putting my luggage onto the converyor belt, one of the workers kept pestering us to push our luggage forward, but he didn’t exactly say up to where. Even when all of my luggage was through, he still kept pestering us, and the whole time, I was just wondering why he didn’t do it himself since he was just standing there. It doesn’t really matter anyways because it can’t be helped. I went through the metal detectors, but then they asked to “pat me down.” It wasn’t a big deal but I just thought it was unnecessary since they just touched my back and let me go.

After everything was clear, we all went to eat lunch at Chickie’s and Pete’s. Since I hadn’t eaten breakfast yet, I was glad to be able to finally eat food. My meal here was essentially my final meal in Philly, but at least it was delicious. We were all done eating at around 12:40 PM, and since we had some time before our flight, we decided to go to some of the shops and buy some souvenirs. I ended up buying just a magnet because everything was so expensive, but it’s the thought that counts.

Phoenix from the sky
We then went to our gate at around 1:10 PM, and we only waited for a short while to board the plane. Since we were in the B section, a lot people had already boarded, so I just sat with Joanne in the very back. It was a pleasant flight because I was just asleep for the first half of it, and the rest of the time, I just watched a movie with Joanne. We landed in Phoenix, Arizona at around 4 PM. I was still wearing my Penn sweater at that time, but once we walked out of the plane, I could definitely feel that Arizona heat. It was 108 degrees when we had landed, and I was glad that we just stayed in the airport because I wouldn’t have survived without the power of air-conditioning.

Our flight back to Oakland was delayed a bit, so we just wandered around the airport and ate at Barrio Cafe. Since we were in Arizona, we finally got a taste of authentic Mexican food, and I certainly missed it when I was in Philly. We began boarding the plane at around 6:15 PM, and I ended up sitting next to Jun and Elexis. This was going to be our final flight together, and it's a little bittersweet to think that this was going to be the last time we're travelling together. Our ILC journey was finally coming to an end, and since most of us were seniors, we would be going our separate ways very soon, 

At the Barrio Cafe
Last flight togther
We landed in Oakland at around 8:15 PM, and we all grabbed our luggage one last time and headed for the shuttle. We all did one big group hug while waiting, and I was becoming more and more sad at the thought that we would be all separated. At least I was finally back in the Bay, and I think I missed the weather the most. I felt the cool breeze when we had gone outside, and I knew I was finally home. During the shuttle ride, all of us were experiencing jet lag, so we were sort of dead the entire time. When we finally arrived at El Cerrito High School at around 9:20 PM, but in Philadelphia, it's already 12:20 PM, so everyone wanted to go back home. When we got out, Don was the first to welcome us back, and then our parents soon followed. I hugged my mom and my dad as soon as I saw them, and in no time, we left to go back home. But before that, our cohort took one last group picture, and I hugged everyone one by one. We would still be able to see each other around, but it definitely won't be the same.

I arrived back home at around 9:45 PM, and I felt relieved to finally see my own living room again. I was especially happy to see my dog again. I talked a little bit with my parents about my trip, but I couldn't stay up anymore, so I went right to bed by 10 PM. Today was definitely a great day because I was finally able to see my family, but I was just sad that everything was finally over. Of course, I would never forget all of the memories I've made, and all of things I learned, as well as the friends that I had met along the way. I'm truly glad to have participated in the ILC, and I'm also glad that I am back in my home sweet home. 
2015 UPenn Cohort back in California