Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Big Red by the Bay- A Father's View

My name is John Woo and I am Andrew Woo's father.

The event was extremely insightful and it gave me a lot to be proud to have my son participate in along with other students. Being able to meet the other alumni and current students, I was also impressed with what Cornell has to offer and has opened me to the educational opportunities in East Coast. It would definitely be a great college for any student to attend.

I had a chance to talk with Cornell alum, David Korda. He gave me an impression of how diverse the Cornell student body is. We talked about what Cornell is like, and what his plans are for the future. Healso gave my son, Andrew, a few tips about the campus life, different parts of social outtings, and hoped to see him during the three week stay.

I am excited for my son this summer and am thankful for this opportunity.

P.S. Go Big Red! I'm following Cornell in the NCAA tournament this season.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Preparing For A Great Summer

First of all, I would like to formally thank Mr. Ramsey, Mrs. Kronenberg, and Don Gosney for their continued support and encouragement as the seven Cornellians prepare for an extraordinary and rigorous three weeks at the prestigious Cornell University. I am extremely excited to be attending Cornell and am looking forward to the many activities and opportunities that we will have the privilege of participating in as members of the ILC, such as college tours at Syracuse, Colgate, University of Rochester, and, of course, residing and studying at the beautiful Cornell University.

I would also like to acknowledge everything they have done to prepare us for the program. So far, the Hotel students have had two training sessions with Mr. Ramsey, Mrs. Kronenberg, and Don at the Hercules Public Library. At these training sessions, we have learned about Microsoft Office 2007, which is a very important aspect of Cornell’s Hotel Management and Operations program. To help us recognize the type (and quality) of work we will be expected to produce, we studied examples provided by former Hotel student, Yueming Wang. One invaluable gift we received from Don at our first training session was a beautifully illustrated step-by-step Microsoft Office 2007 handbook.

As I read through the Cornell blog from last year and look through all the pictures, I can easily visualize where we will be in just a few months and I can’t wait!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Big Red By the Bay-Through a Mother's Eyes

This is my first blog EVER………..please bear with me

WOW! This was my initial sentiment concerning last evening, which was spent at the Big Red by the Bay event in San Francisco with my son Alex Elms.

I want to first thank Mr. Don Kuehne for inviting the 2010 ILC Pinole and Hercules students to attend this Cornell event. His feeling that they might benefit from this event was an understatement. The next item on my agenda is to send a personal note of thanks to Mr. Kuehne. As always, I thank the ILC for the opportunity to experience this event along with Alex

That being said, I hope I can adequately describe my experience.

Since Alex has blogged about the impact of the room, I will go on to talk about the speakers and discussions.

On the slightly raised dais were comfortable chairs for the panelists and for the moderator, Professor Valerie Reyna. Professor Reyna made everyone feel relaxed with her easy style of questioning. The three student panelists discussed their varied social interests.
Dorian Bandy discussed how he loves chess and giving free violin concerts on campus. He told of how he had originally turned down Cornell’s offer to attend a music conservatory, but, at the last minute, on a gut feeling, changed his mind and begged Cornell to accept him. Upon graduation, Dorian will be travelling to England for the next two years to continue his education in 18th century music studies.

Serena Chiang is a soft-spoken young lady whose major is biological sciences with a concentration in genetics and development. She stated that she would like to possibly apply her education after graduation in the research field of medicine. Her father is a diplomat, so she has travelled extensively and lived briefly in Taiwan during her childhood.

David Korda grew up in Ghana. He told tales of living in Ghana and how he suffered from Malaria twice a year! David is a soccer fan and started a knitting club at Cornell. Somehow, I can picture this quiet young man knitting purses, which he stated are donated to a charity for abused young women. He lives in Becker House, where learning continues to take place outside the classroom, as some faculty members live in the same environment as the students.
The unanimous advice these students could give to incoming students is “Don’t be afraid to try something new” and “Get to know your professors.” This discussion was very interesting, as the backgrounds of the three were quite diverse.

Dan Huttenlocher then moderated “A Meeting of the Minds” with a panel of five faculty members. They discussed decision making, as well as dissected what a decision is and the various components involved in making decisions, psychologically and otherwise. It was noted that Cornell has recently received a grant to purchase an MRI machine to map the brain’s activity during decision making. What new breakthroughs can be made from this machine is yet to be seen.

The panelists were asked “Why Cornell?” and to sum up the answers, Cornell represents the “head and the heart” working together to educate and influence with a global reach.

As President David Skorton could not be present, due to having undergone recent surgery, the substitute speaker (I apologize for not writing his name down last evening) talked of Cornell’s plans to increase financial aid by $35 million (15%) next year. To a parent, this was encouraging news. He also stated that Cornell received 36,000 applications for 3,150 open spots in 2010. Talk about competition!

As we filtered downstairs, our first impression of what to expect was a huge red circular floor rug with the Cornell crest. At first, it appeared superimposed upon the floor itself. On the tables outside of the buffet room were scattered buttons for the taking denoting various Cornell visual sound bites, such as “Dragon Day,” “Ithicating” and “Where Students Matter.” How fun!

Inside the buffet room on the various tables, we encountered even more colorful buttons in huge clear glass bowls. What a great marketing idea. Mingling among the current Cornell students, professors, alumni and faculty was very exciting. As a mother, I have to take a moment to say how proud I was of Alex for handling the networking aspect of the evening. I feel I would not have been as poised as he was, if I had been given this opportunity at the same age.

The entire evening, from the presentations to the networking and delicious hors d’oeuvres, was a great experience ~ most definitely one I appreciate being a part of.

Many thanks go out to the members of the ILC for giving my son the chance to be a part of what I hope to be the first of many eye-opening and educational experiences. I am forever in their debt.

Darlene Elms/Mother of One Lucky Young Man! (Don, please go easy on this first-time blogger) )

Big Red and a Really Big Night

Greetings Bloggers!

Last night, I attended the Big Red by the Bay event in San Francisco. It was quite a night. I got to hear from and personally speak to past and current Cornell students, as well as faculty members. Knowing that I had to attend school the next day, we had to reluctantly pull ourselves away from the gathering around 9:30 p.m. So here is my experience…

The driving time was less than we expected, so we arrived half an hour early. This worked to our advantage because it gave us a chance to enjoy the spacious lobby of the beautiful San Francisco Marriott Hotel prior to checking in for the event. As the event hall opened and people began filing in, we saw Mr. Don Kuehne, our gracious host. From the reception area, we were led through double doors into a grand room with low lighting, but also purposely flooded with Cornellian Red. Because we arrived early, we were able to sit with Mr. Kuehne in the second row. Andrew Woo and his father arrived soon after and sat behind us. Once the event began, the magic unfolded.

The program began with a Student Conversation. Professor Valerie Reyna moderated the conversation between two current Cornell Seniors, Dorian Bandy and Serena Chiang, and one Graduate student, David Korda. Professor Reyna asked each student to give a bit of background history about themselves and how they came to arrive at Cornell, as well as what their social lives were like while attending the University. It was interesting to hear about their various backgrounds and social interests. The audience was then allowed to ask the students questions. After the Q&A, Dorian played a marvelous piece of Baroque music from the 18th century. I was blown away during the entire performance. After he finished his piece, I realized that my jaw had literally dropped. It was amazing. After this portion of the evening, we took a break to mingle and enjoy the refreshments in the reception area.

Next, we listened to a discussion among five Cornell professors, which was moderated by Professor Daniel Huttenlocher. The panel included Professors Joseph J. Fins, Thomas Gilovich, Jon Kleinberg, Brian Wansink and Valerie Reyna. Each of the professors specializes in a different area of study, such as medicine, psychology, computer science, economics and human development, respectively. Their primary focus is the psychology involved in their applied field. The discussion revolved around decision making, psychology, human predictability and human actions. Even though they each specialized in completely different areas of study, they were able to relate to every question asked because of this link with psychology. Again, the audience was allowed to ask questions at the end. Each of the professors was captivating in their discussion and very engaging. This was my favorite part of the night because of the analysis of, not only human morals, but also the thought processes of the average person when presented with a certain scenario.

After the discussion, we were invited to adjourn downstairs to a long narrow room to sample the diverse hors d’oeuvres and to mingle and network with Cornell alumni, current students, as well as the professors that spoke during the presentation. My first discussion was with a Cornell alumnus. He was very personable and happy to tell me about his Cornell experience, having recently graduated in December 2009. I told him of my excursion this summer and he said that these sorts of events (the summer program) were great ways to get my foot in the door with universities. I was excited to meet and speak with Brian Wansink, one of the professors from the second presentation, as his portion of the panel discussion was very engaging. We talked about how the night was going so far and my trip to study at Cornell this summer. He then offered to give us a private tour of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, of which he is the director. He was very interesting to speak to.

I think the person I enjoyed speaking with the most was Dorian Bandy, one of the students from the first presentation. We discussed the piece he played and how long he had been involved in music. He has been playing music since the age of two. Yes, I said the age of TWO. I was speechless when he said that. He also said that after visiting Ithaca, places he once found beautiful now paled in comparison. I heard something along those lines at least five times last night. He also said something very interesting. Every time he returns to the Ithaca campus, upon arrival, the light changes. I think that is what I’m looking forward to the most now – seeing the campus as David does and viewing the rural setting.

This night was absolutely unforgettable and I cannot thank Mr. Don Kuehne enough for allowing me this amazing opportunity. I only wish I could have spoken to Andrew Woo after the event to get his impression of the event.

This was definitely an event that very few would want to miss.

Once again, this is Alex Elms signing off.

P.S. - Happy Dragon Day (which is a MAJOR event at Cornell)

Big Red is Far Above...

Yesterday, I went to attend the "Big Red by the Bay" event at the SFO Marriot and despite being nervous about joining such a prestigious group of scholars, everything turned out to be quite comfortable. Contrary to what I initially thought was solely intended for alumni, the event was extremely beneficial for potential applicants such as myself to realize how great a university Cornell is in all disciplines from music to the sciences.

One of the most memorable parts of the event was getting to hear the lecture on "decision making" by the faculty panel, which included professors from different disciplines. I enjoyed how each professor had his own take on the issues and was able to get the audience engaged with the use of examples and visual graphics.

Brian Wansink, director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, brought up multiple studies that made me laugh such as one involving children unconsciously choosing a bowl of multi-colored M&Ms over a bowl of single-colored M&Ms.

There were also heartfelt moments such as when Joseph J. Fins, professor of medicine, mentioned how people tend to go against their rational when a decision concerns a love one in unprecedented situations. Throughout the entire lecture, it was sort of like a ride of intellectual brainstorming of ideas that evoked so many emotions out of me while listening with great intent.

Another part that made the night special was meeting the student panel consisting of three students who had earlier spoken about their university and stated why Cornell is the best.

In particular, my dad and I went to meet David Korda, who is a native of Ghana and came to Cornell in order to expand his learning experience. We talked about how Cornell was not only a great academic sphere, but also a very sociable one as well that involves lots of my personal interests such as music and sports. We both share an interest in the upcoming FIFA World Cup in South Africa, where he enthusiastically said he was rooting for his home country of Ghana.

I also met a couple who were alumni of Cornell, and one happened to personally know Professor Kramnick as I told her that I was part of the Ivy League Connection and taking a course under his direction. She happened to be a professor at UC Davis for 17 years teaching political science, which happened to be my field of interest. We had a very informational conversation during the break in the event.

When I left the event, I felt invigorated to experience what Cornell had to offer and become a part of this community that does so much more than provide its students a great education.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

An Eye Opening Experience

Today, I attended Cornell’s Big Red Event at the San Francisco Airport Marriot, and now I absolutely cannot wait to go to Cornell this summer. Everything that was spoken about at the event was eye opening. Cornell’s an amazing school, with amazing programs that allow you to study and think outside of the box at the same time. I spoke with a couple of Alumni, and listened to their stories about the school. I told them about the Ivy League Connection and how I’ll be attending Cornell this summer for the Hotel Operations and Management, they all reassured me the school campus is beautiful. They also said I should have a great time there.

I took notes on the discussion in this notebook, and I took a picture of it, because I really liked how they had pins all over the place. Although, I didn’t see Andrew or Alex there, I hope their experience was as eye opening as mine.

Monday, March 15, 2010

And the Two Became One

Hello Everyone,

Yesterday, March 14, 2010, the seven Cornellians, Don, Mr. Ramsey, Ms. Kronenberg and Mrs. Kaplan had all agreed to meet at the Hercules Public Library at 3:00. We decided that the two individual groups, the “Hotelies” and the F&J group, would work separately for an hour and later convene to discuss the Cornell blog site. So here is what happened…

Upon entering the conference room that Ms. Kronenberg reserved for us, I realized that Don was the only one who had arrived thus far. It was not long before the room was bustling with Cornellians, including the students from Hercules. We did not get much of a chance to meet and chat with the Hercules Cornellians because at that point, we had decided that Mrs. Kaplan and the F&J group would adjourn to the adjacent room so we could begin our discussion on Plato.

We had a very meaningful discussion about what Socrates thought would make the ideal community. We raised several questions about why Socrates went about arranging his hypothetical community the way he did and if we also tried applying his thoughts to today. As we delved deeper into the discussion, we began asking a lot more questions and answering them with new questions. Occasionally we would come to a somewhat concrete answer, but most of our questions just led us deeper into a forest of questions without answers. I have found that our political theory discussions feel a lot like an algebra problem; we work backwards from what we know in order to achieve a resolution… or more likely, just more questions. I think that analyzing these problems, situations and questions like I would an algebra equation makes it much easier for me. It also makes it a lot more fun. It kind of blends two of my favorite aspects of school: my math class and forensics.

After we concluded our discussion, we returned to the first conference room to discuss the blog.

We began by observing the Columbia and Brown blog sites, just to get an idea of how we should customize ours. Just as we began doing this, Mr. Ramsey arrived. This was our chance to step up and put our ideas out there. The ideas that we brought forth and agreed upon were to change text and background colors. We also briefly touched on what information we wanted in the sidebar and how certain pictures would be displayed. Before we knew it, our conference room time was at an end.

Overall, we had a productive meeting. The seven Cornellians got a chance to meet face to face and we took a step forward with our blog page. I know that this is going to turn out to be a great group and that we will churn out one of the best blog sites that the ILC has ever seen.

Until next time, this is Alex Elms signing off.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Spartans and Titans on a Sunday Afternoon

(image taken from http://www.friendsofhercules.org/publiclibrary.htm)

While the Pinole Valley Spartans busily prepare for their "Freedom and Justice" course, the Hercules Titans were hard at work with their own "Hotel Management" course. It wasn't until this Sunday afternoon that I met our fellow three Cornellians for the first time.

Unfortunately, our time together was brief. We were running under limited time and had to be as productive as possible. So, as the Titans sat in their own room learning about Microsoft Excel, we Spartans sat in the room next door discussing what we've read from The Republic by Plato. Even from the chair where I sat, I could see through the transparent glass door that our fellow three peers meant business (no pun intended).

So, what did the Pinole Valley students do exactly while the Hercules students learned information from a projector screen? Well, our group consisted of us four students (Alex E., Andrew W., Andrew G., and I, Wing S.), Ms. Kaplan (our chaperone), Mrs. Elms (Alex’s mother), and for a brief moment, Terri Ishmael (Assistant Principal at Hercules High, a friend of Ms. Kaplan’s and a chaperone for Columbia). We directed our attention first, to Chapter 3, “Fundamentals of Inner Politics” in The Republic by Plato. Although our study group normally meets every Monday at lunch, we didn’t think it would hurt to get a bit ahead.

From what I’ve read, this section was quite interesting. On their way of understanding morality better, Socrates and Plato’s two brothers, Glaucon and Adeimantus, discuss the components of a community. A community is established when individuals must rely on others for their own needs, and this will always be so because each individual is born to be talented and skilled in one and only one profession, such as shoemaking or farming. The three men however, realized that as they developed their theoretical community, more people had to be added as various situations were brought up, such as the need for soldiers for protection.

Socrates and his men were long before our time and thus, had obviously left out the possibility of machine over man in a profession. But I had other questions. What of the people who do nothing in a community? What of the old people who retire? I think that being someone looking at this text from a modern point-of-view, Socrates's community was lacking too much and considered too little. It makes me very curious though that Socrates would stress each individual to focus on only one talent/profession. What if there was a shoemaker who could paint? Or a farmer who could sing? But I guess this just gives me a better picture of who Socrates was. He was a philosopher. Never once did he mention his own profession in his make-believe community. Perhaps philosophers, he thought, deserved a more “higher” status. This makes sense because both he and Plato believed a good ruler ought to also be a philosopher-king.


Once the Titans and Spartans were both done with their specified meetings, we all grouped back together in the Titan’s room and used the remainder of our time to discuss our current Cornell Blog. As you read these words, know that the layout in which they are written over, will probably be changed.

There are about 12 more weeks until we start packing bags. In other words, it’s time for us Cornellians to really get down to work. But before I sign off, I would like to thank Ms. Kronenberg, Mr. Ramsey, and Mr. Gosney for their attendance and help today. They've been behind us from the very beginning and continue to make sure we do our very best. Thank you!

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Work Has Only Begun...

Hello again blogosphere!

I’ve really sunk my teeth into the Cornell experience.

I have been doing a lot of reading for the course. On that note, we have started our Freedom and Justice study group at school. We have had three meetings so far and all of them have been productive.

We have discussed St. Augustine and his “City of God,” as well as Plato’s “The Apology.” In both cases, we have done an in-depth analysis of each work and have posed several questions about the questions they ask in their works. These discussions have forced me to push my critical thinking boundaries.

At first I thought, “If this is what the class will be like, maybe it won’t be so bad.” But as we continued asking questions in our discussion, I realized I was completely mistaken. I had to pick apart each question and theory into pieces so small that they became entirely new discussions and debates. Mr. Wade and Mrs. Kaplan have been a great help to our studies. I have left each of these meetings with greater insight.

Along with the reading, I’ve also been working on arranging several tours for our trip. A few weeks ago, Mr. Ramsey requested that someone assist with handling these tours. At first, I was hesitant in volunteering to take on this responsibility. Despite this hesitance, I contacted Colgate University.

After realizing that I was capable of handling this task, I decided to challenge myself with scheduling the University of Rochester and Syracuse University visits. I arranged for campus tours at all three of these prestigious universities. I also arranged for tours of the Frederick Douglass Resource Center and the Susan B. Anthony House. After making these arrangements, I realized that my initial fear was irrational and that I was completely capable of doing these things from the beginning. I think I have begun learning a little bit about the business realm, due to all of the emails and telephone calls to these colleges and businesses. I know that these are extremely small steps, but I think that this will help me become more professional. This trip sounds like it’s going to be great.

So long for now. I’ll be back with more blogging action on Sunday. The Cornellians are getting together for a meeting concerning the blog, so I’ll be reporting in again soon.