Monday, May 30, 2016

Presentation Is Key

May 25, 2016

The ILC gave a quick presentation at our School Board meeting. The chaperones and one ILCer from each cohort gave a two minute speech on what this program allowed and meant to them. For my cohort Alana and Ernestina were gifted this great privilage as they demonstrate our sentiments to School Board Members. They both did a great job. They kept their calm, made great points, and were very coherent. 

I was told  afterwards this was one of the quickest ILC board meeting presentations but it was still well regarded. Don received many compliments regarding the presentation. There was also a realization while I was talking to other male ILCers while waiting for the group picture. The female population greater in this program. 

 Its crazy to think about how close its getting to this trip. Before that I have to take a Trip down to Mexico to get my residency and make it back in time for departure. My family and I have been working hard to obtain a legal status and its great to finally see results. This will definitely make the trip less stressful as a resident and allows me to apply to scholarships and actual college. 
ILCers + Parents + Chaperones = Group Picture


Where do I even start. I was late to the El Cerrito Plaza BART Station by about 30 minutes. My dad was running a bit late from San Rafael because of heavy traffic. Don was not too happy about this. Because of my tardiness I was assigned the role to carry the UChicago flag canister to the restaurant and back. Not as bad as it could of been so I gratefully accepted this task. Also because of my tardiness the rest of my cohort was sent ahead. 
Group Photo
At our arrival, as Don had mentioned, there was construction going on all around the patio where the ILC was hosting this event. Another thing that came apparent was that the rest of the cohort had not arrived. I introduced myself to the UChicago alums (Koryn, Christopher, and Nelson ), a previous UChicago ILCer (Brandon), and one of the Sponsors and his wife (Scott and Michelle). When Everyone arrived we had a small laugh around the irony of my initial tardiness and theirs. 

Aside from the heavy literal construction around us, there was much construction on our knowledge of the trip to come. The interaction with these wonderful people gave us a better idea of expectations, experiences, and cultures at the University of Chicago. There was an interesting view on UChicago where its motto is 'where fun goes to die'. This was both supported and rebutted. It seems like it is the best of both worlds where you can decide if you want to be educationally focus or you want to participate in many interesting events. Christopher told Ryan, Brandon, and I some of these events that can be described as a blast. 

The food was not too bad either. I can say that the chicken and the brownies were my favorite items. Although, I was pretty jealous that a previous cohort got whipped cream on their brownies. After we finished eating there were, of course, photos and we got to see the city at night which was very beautiful as the all the lights glimmered.  

Friday, May 27, 2016

B - Megane

Dear Reader,

Today I looked like a mourner at a funeral in Asia.

Komal, Jahnvi, Jae-An, and I.
The Dream Team.
White, white, white. White dress, white shoes. This evening was the School Board presentation, where I was making the UChicago student speech. I was so nervous I couldn't even smile for Don's large, shiny, black, imposing camera. My parents and I arrived at Lavonya Dejean Middle School at 5:55 PM, five minutes before the supposed call time of 6 PM. I spent the majority of my time hyperventilating and perspiring. :^ )

Only slightly kidding.

Apart from my cohort, I talked to Jahnvi Doshi (HHS), Jae-An Wang (ECHS), and Komal Kumar (HHS). While Jahnvi was enjoying her time under the blanket banner comfortably enjoying the warmth, and Jae-An was awkwardly embracing his newfound popularity with the ladies, Komal was swooning over his masculinity. These interesting personas were spoken with before the speech was made, and helped to calm me down by providing a element of laughter to the evening.

Milky Way, just for fun. ;)
After countless (25, realistically) photos and the nervousness of telecasters over, my parents and I rushed to the annual pops concert, where I made it just in time to play Halo and Alice in Wonderland. It was honestly a great, but saddening concert. People come and go, always, and one just has to accept that. Such as in the case of Jahnvi and Jae-An, two souls set in the stars, bridged by the Milky Way of the Ivy League Connection.

Small post-concert picture!

But again, I have to think of everyone, from sponsers, to students, to the school board, to Don and Ms. Kronenburg, who allowed each of us in the ILC to expand our meager dip in the pool of life. As I said in my speech, being a part of the Connection encourages students to look beyond the narrow, comfortable scope of California, to a summit that seems daunting, but is well-worth the effort to climb. Thank you all.

D-d-dabbing cohort.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Speeches, Recognition, and The Paparazzi: The School Board Meeting

We had another ILC event tonight, for me the third one in four days! We are really starting to kick in to gear for the summer, which is super exciting (even if a bit overwhelming all at once at the end of the school year). Luckily this is the last major ILC event for this week, only because I was going to start running out of fancy outfits! The last few days have been an excellent lesson in time management, and I think I am starting to get the hang this whole blogging process.

Carrying the Chicago banner back to our seats
The event tonight was the WCCUSD School Board meeting, where the ILCers as part of a district wide program came to be recognized and to say our thank you's to the board for their continuing support. We all owe the ILC so much, and the support of the school board is extremely important so that others will also get the chance at this amazing opportunity in the future.

This was an especially important school board meeting, since there were some hotly contested issues lined up to be addressed today, and the auditorium was packed! The event was also being broadcasted on television, which means that we had an enormous audience. The ILC was one of the first items on the agenda, which made it feel all the more special! There was even pizza (which I passed on, but Ryan and Mauricio bolted down) which makes any meeting more enjoyable.

Each cohort went up separately to be recognized, the chaperones introduced all of the students individually, and one student from each cohort gave a short speech. Ernestina did a great job representing our Chicago cohort with her speech and, while all of the student speeches were excellent, Camilla Morales of Brown University's Women and Leadership cohort gave a particularly remarkable speech about how meaningful this ILC trip would be for her and her fellow cohort members as women of color. It was also inspiring to hear a speech given by Arnold Dimas, a two time ILC participator and Gates Millennium Scholarship winner. He encouraged us all to "take this opportunity and run with it," and I intend to do exactly that!

The Chicago cohort
After our piece of the meeting was completed, we all went outside to pose for a group photo. It felt like being swarmed by the paparazzi with the many parents snapping pictures around Don, who took about a million pictures with his fancy camera and bright flash! Since I missed the original tutorial where all the students in the ILC got together, this was the first event where I got to see the program as a whole, rather than just my cohort. It was great to see some familiar faces, meet new people, and finally feel connected to the program as a whole!

(R) Five Guys Burgers

So I have decided to copy Ernestina by labeling my blogs with my initial so that everyone knows it's Ryan's blog.  Unless, of course, I am misinterpreting Ernestina, and she just puts random letters. Either way, all my blogs from here on out will have the "R" at the beginning. I am hoping that this is original so that I can take credit. Now let's talk about the Board Meeting.
Semi-candid Chicago cohort 
 The board meeting was short and sweet. Mauricio and I got to snag some pizza and water before it started, so there wasn't any stomach growling going on.  The Board we are referring to is the West Contra Costa Unified School District board that oversees all the schools and students.  We were fortunate enough to be scheduled first on a night full of hard hitting topics like finding a new Superintendent of schools.  We were all seated in the front and got called up cohort by cohort. Chicago went second, and Ernestina gave an excellent speech after Ms, Scott introduced us to the Board. After about twenty minutes, we were able to take our group pictures and head out.

It was at this time I realized how little male representation there is this year in the ILC. Compared to seventeen girls, there are only five guys. The fact that Mauricio and I make up 40% of the ILC men is pretty crazy.  After this realization, I got a little bit salty.  We all get to visit two or three schools, and the UChicago cohort will be visiting Northwestern and Washington University in St. Louis.  These are great schools, and I am excited to visit, but my dream is to see Columbia University. Two of the other cohorts are visiting Columbia, so I felt the salt shaking out onto me immediately. (So Don, if you're reading this, maybe we can pull some strings and get ourselves a third visit ;]) Just wishful thinking.

I enjoyed the Board meeting because we were able to thank the people that make this experience possible directly. Also, Chicago has the coolest school flag so we got to flex a little. Everyone received us very well, and I hope that means there will be continued support in the future. The countdown gets lower and lower. Can't wait to get out there.
All the Hercules ILCers. Komal is the third from the left and will be attending
Brown University. Jahnvi is the farthest right and is going to Vanderbilt. They
also have blogs that I recommend checking out!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

E - Various Pathways

Dear Reader,

I felt like dough today. Beaten and weary, yet still able to rise.

The view rising from the underground.
Last night was our cohort's fancy ILC dinner at Town Hall in the City (SF). Well actually--let me start from the beginning. Chicago cohort + parents + Don + Ms. Kronenburg met at the El Cerrito Plaza BART station. I had driven past the station with my parents more times than I can count, but this was the first time I had ever traveled on a BART train. Therefore, I was nervous and excited. We left without Don and Mauricio, but somehow they wound up arriving at the restaurant before us. Apparently the rest of us took the "scenic route". :^ )

Another new experience--taking the escalator up to the exit of the Embarcadero and seeing huge buildings surrounding me. Living in the suburbs of Hercules + seeing SF through a car window (mainly) = (O_O)
I think my favorite kind of contemporary architecture is of buildings that reflect the sky perfectly. Luckily for me, there are plenty of those in San Francisco. We walked about five blocks (in high heels T^T) to get to the restaurant, and passed by LinkedIN and more tall buildings. 

Creepy construction going up.
We got to meet our fantastic sponsors and a few UChicago alum at the dinner too. The most interesting person I met there was Michelle Berge, the wife of one of our architect sponsors (Scott Berge). Interestingly enough, all of our sponsors were involved in architecture. I connected with Michelle as she and I both had experienced time in Japan with host families, and also had common interest in business (however, where she works in marketing, I aspire to). Another face that stands out is Christopher Dewing, an alum that recently graduated in 2014. He had numerous stories of mundane events that I considered interesting, such as biking. But imagine biking cross country. For two months. Intense, right? Those are the people that really made my night, other than my cohort, and of course, Brandon Dela Cruz. Brandon had various stories of his mischievousness during his time in Chicago, making for a great, chatty dinner table.

Salad, with walnuts and greens. It was pretty heavily dressed, which I didn't particularly favor, but it was still a good salad.
Then comes mashed potatoes, gravy, and biscuits with a strange sweet and spicy jam (the biscuits were A-1, just to mention.) followed by prime rib and fried chicken. 
There was also asparagus with egg bits, and dessert was pieces of fudge with caramel on top.

From the top 'o the sm0l restaurant.
Overall, of the dinner experience, my favorite part was going to the restroom...because from there, I found the roof. :) The way the restaurant was situated, to go to the restroom, you have to go to the second floor. But, being who I am, I didn't stop there. Heh. Trekking up five more flights of stairs in heels isn't an easy feat, but it was definitely worth it. Atop the building, facing an open sky and the Charles Schwab building was a creepy abandoned playground (!) My pulse was rushing as I opened the door extremely slowly, begging that an alarm wouldn't go off in this seemingly abandoned part of the building. When I walked out with no bells ringing behind me, my body instantly crumpled in relief. Woohoo!

After posing under haphazardly configured construction, and a few boulders, we headed out.

It was a huge pain walking back to the BART station--by then I was flattened dough. Oh dear me, I've got to learn how to walk in three inch heels.

Anyway, that's all for a eventful night. Upon reaching home, I dropped like a rock. Ded. 

Well, us. : )

Abandoned playground.
BART! First time.
More shiny buildings.

Good Food, Even Better People: The Chicago Dinner

Last night was a special dinner where the Chicago cohort got to meet with parents, our trip chaperone, an ILC Chicago summer program alumnus, alumni from the University of Chicago, and the sponsors and leaders of the ILC (including school board member and ILC founder Madeline Kronenberg) to enjoy a meal together. In other words, a lot of awesome people in a really excellent place!

The photographer at work!
Don Gosney photographs the 2016 Chicago Cohort
with alumni Koryn and Christopher
The Town Hall restaurant was lovely (although I was not prepared for the spicy horseradish mashed potatoes) and provided a great atmosphere for us all to mingle and introduce ourselves. I especially enjoyed my conversations with UChicago alums Christopher, Koryn, and Nelson who all shared glowing reviews of the university and provided intriguing anecdotes and insights about how their time at UChicago influenced their lives. Talking to them gave me a clearer picture of what this whole college thing is all about, and what I should hope to get out of it. Hearing them say that they were once just as unsure about what they wanted to do as I am now was encouraging. Their speeches and stories focused a lot on the value of culture and community at the University of Chicago, which I hope to get a sense for on my trip despite it not taking place while regular classes are in full swing.

While Ryan did an excellent job in his speech of thanking all of the sponsors and supporters of the ILC, I would like to extend my own public thank you to everyone who has made this trip possible for me (if any of you are reading this, I'm talking to you!).  It is because of you that I have the opportunity to experience an Ivy League college this summer, and I am extremely grateful!

Evil Don and The Rules: The Tutorial

Photoception courtesy of Don, featuring me and Ryan
Next up on my journey with ILC was the mandatory tutorial. Since Ryan and I missed the original tutorial, we got our own session with Don to learn all we needed to know for our upcoming adventures in Chicago. This featured cautionary tales of appearances of the infamous Evil Don -- along with advice on how to avoid meeting him -- as well as instructions on basic behavior, communication, and blogging skills. We even took some time to experiment with photography! This tutorial gave me some great perspective on how hard Don works to make sure we are all taken care of, and taught me some valuable life skills.

One of the better photos I took during the tutorial. Thanks for the help, Don!

The Place Where Fun (Doesn't) Go to Die

Ah, the dinner.  The highlight of my ILC experience thus far. The amazing food and people most definitely pushed me right to the edge of my seat in anticipation of my trip.
The event exceeded my expectations. It was a little rough at first with a large detour as we walked to the restaurant but that was our little workout for the evening.  Besides, walking through San Francisco is always nice.

The venue is called Town Hall, a fabulous restaurant with fried chicken unlike anything I have ever tasted.  The food was amazing all around but that fried chicken made my mouth water more than anything else. It was crunchy and flaky and juicy all at the same time. I could not get enough.

Beside that, the alumni. I had the pleasure of talking with Christopher Dewing from the class of 2014 and Koryn Kendall from the class of 2008.  Also, Nelson from the class of 2014 was in attendance but sadly, I was seated too far away to talk with him. I am thankful for all these alumni coming because they made me so much more excited for this summer.  Christopher was the first person I talked to when I arrived and he told me all about his experience as a student.  He had all these amazing memories such as his involvement in the club broom ball team that he was on for all four years.  Also his class where he got to look at all the aspects of sports from the law to the economics.  His experiences were inviting to me because he is young and I felt like his opinions were very applicable to what might happen for me. 

Koryn introduced herself with the phrase, "Where fun goes to die." This is the unofficial name for the University of Chicago and one of the houses on campus sells T-shirts with that phrase printed on it.  And, ironically, this house makes thousands of dollars in profits so they can have more fun than anyone else on campus, as Christopher pointed out. Pretty smart thinking on their part.  I felt that this was untrue just from all the descriptions I heard. Without even being there I saw Chicago in my mind and pictured all the things I could do. Koryn played volleyball for the university and I am interested in continuing my running in college so we talked about this.  She was attracted to the student focus for student-athletes, and I am too. I think attending a school like UChicago will give me the opportunity to pursue my running passion but also explore other academic opportunities.  My trip there will include a large amount of running this summer so I think I will have a good idea of what being a student-athlete at the university will be like.  Koryn and Christopher were very nice and I was happy to be able to talk with them.

The sponsors and board members in attendance were also too far away from me but I just want to say thank you to all of them for making this possible. They are giving all of us ILCers a chance of a lifetime and I am extremely grateful.  They have provided the financial means for our trip and one day it will be my turn to provide an opportunity for others to do something similar. I will look back to this time and pay it forward just like these generous sponsors have for me.

The ILC alumni in attendance, Brandon De la Cruz, was also a very big part of the night.  He sat directly in front of me at dinner so he could tell me all about his experience at the summer session.  His stories really made me excited for what will come this summer. He kept saying how badly he wanted to go back and now I just can't wait.  With just about a month and a week remaining, this is starting to feel super real. Also, Brandon told us that we get more dinners like the one we had at Town Hall and that definitely excited me. I wonder if there is anymore fried chicken. Mmmmmm.

Breaking the Ice: The Chicago Meet and Greet Dinner

Hello all, and thanks for stopping by to check out my first ever attempt at blogging! I can't wait to share my experiences with you as I make my way through my upcoming Ivy League Connection (ILC) trip. Expect a lot of enthusiasm and liberal use of parenthesis. Recently it has been a whirlwind for ILC, and since I was a little bit late on the blogging initiation process I have plenty to catch you up on! 

Meet the 2016 Chicago Cohort!
Ryan, Mauricio, Alice (me), Ernestina, and Ms.Scott
For example, last Wednesday was my first major ILC event after acceptance because the Chicago cohort had its first meet and greet dinner! It was so exciting to see everyone again after the interviews, and to talk about all our worries, hopes, and expectations for the summer ahead. We all bonded over classes, musical instruments, and the surprisingly decadent fried bananas in ice cream we got for dessert (if you ever find yourself at Hornbill Burmese Cuisine, I highly recommend you try some!) This is an all new group of people for me, since there is no one else from my high school in the Chicago cohort, so it was great to have some time to get to know them in preparation for our trip!

It was also lovely meeting our chaperone Ms. Scott, a French teacher who has been on the Chicago  trip before and was able to answer many of our questions and concerns. She was so much fun, and I can't wait to travel with her. All in all, a fantastic evening and a great start!

The Giver

That was my largest take away from the tutorial. Don is The Giver. His inventory of supplies astonishes me.  Luggage, electronics, and so much more.  But that was only part of the tutorial.  A very small part.

I was part of a make-up group for the tutorial that included my cohort member, Alice.  I gave the option of having the meeting at my house so I was able to get up, pour myself some Cap'n Crunch, and just wait for the others. At 10 AM they arrived and we got right into it by learning how to write these blogs and take pictures for them. This blog does not have a picture to go along with it even though that was one of the main things to include but at least I'm not forgetting.  

After the bulk of the tutorial was completed Don gave a lot of tips for our trip and explained to us how he has literally every item we could possibly need for this trip to loan out to us. I might have to borrow a nice USB powered desk fan. Chicago is HOT.

After an elapsed time of five, yes five, hours, I was able to eat because we did not get any of the cool snacks everyone else got at the main tutorial.  I could not have been more relieved eating my corn dogs after taking in all that information. I must say I am definitely ready to head off to the East.


So I have it a little backwards from the rest of the Ivy League Connection-ers.  My first blog is about the meet and greet dinner rather than my experience with the tutorial.  That will come later but for now, my first blog!
University of Chicago cohort and chaperone during meet and greet.
From left to right: Ryan, Mauricio, Alice, Ernestina, Ms Scott
I had met my cohort members through our acceptance and time spent waiting for our interviews. I go to school and have classes with Ernestina so I knew her well before this.  As for Mauricio and Alice, I was able to get to spend some more time with them and learned a lot of cool things. A large portion of our conversation was about school, the AP tests we had recently taken, and questioning Ms. Scott on what she had experienced in her prior trip.  We even came up with the idea of forming a jazz band because we all have the ability to play instruments, and although that is not quite feasible, it is a fun idea still.

Ms. Scott happens to be a teacher at Hercules High where Ernestina and I attend. Prior to this dinner, I had not even talked to our chaperone.  Quite simply, I just never had a reason or opportunity to talk to her because I do not take French. I can now say that Ms. Scott seems like a great teacher and an awesome chaperone.

As for the food, we ate at a Burmese restaurant on San Pablo Dam road. The easy option for me was the chicken curry so I just went with it and it was delicious. I was battling a cold that would turn into a 101 fever the next day but the warm dish really helped me feel better.  But the best part of the dinner by far was the fried bananas with ice cream for dessert.  That left me so stuffed I could barely stand up straight.  Overall, the night was a very good experience and a nice introduction to the flood of events that are rolling in at the moment.

Off to the next.

Saturday, May 21, 2016


May, 14 2016 

The title is just to mislead; this tutorial was actually very informative and the snacks were satisfactory. We had slight problems logging into the computers but other than that the day went pretty smoothly.

Me Taking Pictures for Practice Blog
We started of by reviewing the kinds of Don's and the responsibilities of the ILCers. This seemed to give us a sense of urgency and reminder that in order for this opportunity to go smoothly maximum effort must be put in. 

When we went over how to blog, instead of thinking about it as another tedious task, I thought of all the things it will help with. It will improve my structure, vocabulary, and writing as a whole. This is great because writing is not my strong suit and any improvement is greatly appreciated. 

I also got to learn a lot about the processes that go on in airplanes. I never in my life have been on an airplane or even been outside of California after my arrival in the United States, when I was six years old. I now know what the difference is between a carry-one and check-in luggage as well as some of the general rules of airports.

In the end this tutorial taught me a lot of various things. The only thing that could've been better would be the time. We got out kind of late. 
Group Picture With Richmond High Students

Meet & Greet

May 17, 2016
I arrived approximately at 5:25pm. This was not my first time going to Hornbill Burmese Cuisine but it was still great. I love the food from this place and my favorite dish would be the Pad Thai. You can never go wrong with Pad Thai. We had a good time chatting about school and talking about our upcoming trip to UChicago. 

Cohort Looking Surprised
Fried Bananas & Strawberry Ice Cream, Yum!
I met our chaperone, Alana Scott (The greatest chaperone), and was reunited with the best cohort in the ILC. I say this because the pictures demonstrate the awesomeness. They're not afraid to get a little silly.

After we finished our entree we of course had dessert! I had fried bananas with strawberry ice cream which I must say was extraordinarily delicious. Because of the large amount of Pad Thai I consumed this dessert was difficult to finish but no regrets! 

After everyone was done eating, we said our goodbyes and went our separate ways. I did get to have a chat with Alana while waiting for my parents. She kindly introduced herself to my parents. Later that day my parents said that meeting Alana made my parents feel a little more relaxed about letting me go on the UChicago trip.