Friday, May 21, 2010

The Best Yet

Last night was our Cornell dinner. Cornell alumni, parents, a major ILC supporter, Wally Gordon, and the seven summer Cornellians all congregated at the wonderful One Market Restaurant in San Francisco for my most memorable ILC experience yet. The night was astounding. I met a few alumni, spoke with an ILC alumnus who will be attending Cornell this Fall and had an excellent dinner. I could not summarize this night quickly even if I wanted to, so prepare for a very long blog.

My night started on BART when I was introduced to Joseph Young, an ILC alumnus who will be attending Cornell this Fall. Joseph attended both Cornell and Brown as an ILC scholar during his sophomore and junior years. We spoke for the majority of the BART ride to One Market. He had a lot of insightful comments about the ILC, his experiences and what his attitude towards high school was when he returned. It was a very lucrative conversation. He told me he attended the Brown course covering DNA and biotechnology that a few of my friends are taking this year. Much to my surprise, the course actually discussed cloning! This single statement made up my mind about which program I want to try to attend next year. We also discussed his time outside the classroom when he studied at Cornell. He, along with all of the others I've spoken to about Cornell's landscape, couldn't say enough about how mind-blowing and breath-taking the scenery was. I enjoyed our conversation tremendously.

We reached One Market and, from the moment we stepped inside, I knew we were going to have a great meal. The restaurant was teeming with people and the meals I saw the waiters and waitresses carrying looked delicious. We were served appetizers while we waited for the rest of the guests (i.e. sponsors, alumni, etc.) and while we waited for our private dining room to be readied.

Mr. Ramsey had set seating arrangements for us. In most cases, there was no more than one student-parent group at a table. I was seated with Joseph Young, Doug Mitarotonda (a Cornell graduate who has recently earned his Ph.D.), William Vederman (class of '63), Alex Vollmer (class of '64) and my mother. Will and Alex are two Cornell alumni who have supported the ILC for a few years now. Will is actually the first Cornell alumnus that Mr. Ramsey recruited to become involved with the ILC. Because of this, Mr. Ramsey honored him with a special pin that recognized the WCCUSD for winning a first place Magna Award for the ILC. I had excellent conversations with each of the gentlemen at my table throughout the evening, but I began by speaking to Doug. He had a wealth of information about college life, Cornell and some general pointers for applying to colleges. Doug is an economist. We actually share a lot of academic interests (namely math). He told me that his first choice in college was in engineering, which is what I'm considering, but that he later switched to economics because of the mix of math and human interaction. This had a huge impact on my goals. I am now considering economics as a field of interest because it blends two of the things I love about my current high school experience: math and speaking (forensics). This is definitely something that I will have to give some thought to. We continued speaking for quite some time about all of this and I felt like I could have continued for much longer. But, the night had to move on and Ms. Kronenberg began addressing the room.

Once Ms. Kronenberg began speaking, I knew my time grew closer. Next on the agenda to speak was Jacky, then myself. I must have run through the list of what I wanted to say in my head at least ten times, while still listening to Ms. Kronenberg’s wonderful speech. Jacky began speaking and I began to calm myself down so that I could focus. Soon it was my turn to speak. Once I got my first laugh out of the room full of alumni, ILC sponsors, parents, students etc. I was fine. I continued speaking confidently and actually got some applause. It was definitely my best speech ever. I still can’t get over the feeling of anxiety I felt before I got my speech moving and how it was almost immediately lifted from my shoulders. After that, the night continued to get better.

After Mr. Ramsey’s speech, which was full of kind things to say about the work we have done and the sponsors of the ILC, we enjoyed our main course and some hearty discussion. I wasn’t too focused on my steak though because I launched into an extremely interesting conversation with Will Vederman and Alex Vollmer about forensics and policy debate. I was definitely in my comfort zone because I was able to converse for what seemed like half-an-hour. Will told us that he had recently seen a documentary about debate and he couldn't believe the rate at which the competitors spoke. This was half of the conversation. I told him stories of my first-hand experience with spreaders (fast speaking debaters) and the discussion evolved from there. Most of the conversation after that involved Alex, Will and Doug’s experiences at Cornell and the Alumni Association. The one story that stuck in my mind was one of Will's. He told the story of a student at Cornell who, in the middle of Winter, streaked across the snow-covered quad. I got a pretty great laugh out of that. I had three vaults of college experience sitting across from me the entire night and I didn’t waste a second of our conversations. I definitely appeciated the networking capabilities the evening afforded me.

Between dinner and dessert, Mr. Ramsey stood up again and gave another great speech. He thanked everyone for coming and gave special acknowledgements to sponsors of the ILC. Upon conclusion of his speech, dessert arrived: a strawberry tart with vanilla ice cream and caramelized sugar. It was delicious, to say the least. Shortly afterwards, the evening came to a close and we all filed through the door of our room to the main body of the restaurant where I spoke with Dyana, Andrew and Andrew about our experiences of the night. I think we all brought back our own special experiences with us that night

I’m usually one to speak modestly. It would be an understatement to say that last night was the best night of my life thus far. I wish our dinner did not have to end. I had a great time, the food was excellent and the company was lively. Thank you Mr. Ramsey for organizing the highlight of my ILC experience. On the ride home, I got the chance to reflect on the evening and I realized that I missed it already. As the title says, it was the best yet.

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