Unbelievable. Simply unbelievable.
I don't think I have ever had such an inspiring and phenomenal dinner in my life! I have to tell you, the closer one gets to going to their respectful colleges in the ILC, the better it gets. So brace yourselves, for this will be a pretty long and fruitful post:
For the first time, everyone involved with Cornell and the ILC got together and really learned about each other. Although many of these faces were familiar from the school board meeting, they were just that - faces. The wonderful dinner quickly became the even more wonderful opportunity for all of us to become closer as a group.
Even before we all got on the BART train from the El Cerrito Plaza BART station, I had a chance to briefly speak with Joseph Young. As a senior from El Cerrito High School, he will be graduating and heading off to Cornell University this fall. Just like me, he also got involved with the ILC and went to a Cornell summer course when he was just a sophomore. He even continued the next year, by going to a class at Brown his junior year. Joseph was truly an inspiration. His acceptance to such a top college, as well as others from the ILC, makes me even more proud of this program and hopeful that maybe I, too, will have a chance to be accpeted. I wish him the best of luck when he shall return to Ithaca once more!
The moment we walked into the One Market Square Restaurant, I was wide-eyed and amazed. The closest I've ever come to experiencing such a fancy restaurant, was probably making a quick glance through their large windows. Everything around me caught my attention. A swift current of waiters and waitresses coursed through the maze of people and tables. The smell of expensive cuisine filled the air. I could tell this night was going to be quite memorable.
As we got deeper and deeper into the restaurant, I noticed all of the other remaining guests of the dinner. They included everyone from alums to district workers to sponsors. Their presence and the very fancy atmosphere...I couldn't help but become a little shy.
That feeling, however, quickly dissolved. Chris Habash and I were quickly spotted by the lovely Samantha Berg, a Cornell alum - Class of 2009. As waiters and waitresses busied themselves with preparing our reception room, Chris, Samantha, and I engaged in a long and very informative conversation. Samantha was extremely friendly and easy to talk to. She made, not just this dinner more comfortable, but also the very thought of going to college less terrifying as well. Like she had for Chris, Samantha also offered to look over any future essays I'll write to Cornell, as well as answer some questions I may have at another time.
The guests were divided into five or six groups, each seated at a round table. My mom and I had the honor of sitting with Mr. Ramsey, Ms. Linda Cohen, Beilul Naizghi, and Mr. Naizghi. I was especially glad to sit with Beilul because she was the one person from our ILC Cornell group that I've seen many times but never got the chance to get to know. Beilul and I have a lot in common; I look forward to furthering my friendship with not just Beilul, but with everyone else, as we board Flight 906 and head off to Ithaca. In addition, I had several brief chats with Mr. Ramsey, Ms. Cohen, and Mr. Naizghi. I greatly enjoyed the time we shared together.
In addition to the delicious meal, I was also blown away by my fellow peers, Alex Elms and Jacky Lares. Both of them were chosen to give a speech regarding what it means to be an ambassador for the WCCUSD and as well as how they felt about going to Cornell this summer. I enjoyed their powerful words and I couldn’t agree more with what they told all the dinner guests that night. I felt that what they both said really grasped the feelings all 7 of us felt about going to Cornell this summer. I applaud them for their moving and inspiring speeches.
As the wonderful evening came to an end, I had the chance to speak with two more alumni! The first was with Doug, who graduated from Cornell in 2002. Doug had a lot to say about both the life before and after Cornell. From our conversation, I could tell that Doug really appreciated his time there at Ithaca. In addition to the many life-time friends he’s made, he also enjoyed the various sports he’s participated in. He also told me how one learns a lot when they go to college. For Doug, one of them was time management. In addition to all his helpful insights, Doug and I also discussed a possible career path I had been thinking about, and it just so happens, he had another friend who knew more about it. Thanks to Doug, I now have another helpful contact in my address book. Her name is Jessica and she’s another Cornell alum working in the Bay Area.
The last alum I spoke with that evening was Bill. Bill graduated from Cornell a while back so he admits that he doesn’t know specifically what the current Cornell is like. But, he understood that for students of our generation, getting into top schools like this had become much harder. “For getting into this program,” he told me. “Tells me you guys are definitely ready.” As all of us walked back to the Embarcadero BART station, I shared a couple of wide grins with my fellow peers. All of us agreed that this had been one of the best ILC events this year. Personally, I was deeply inspired by the words of the alums that night and simply can’t wait to see if what they said about Cornell was true.
And who knows – maybe someday I will return to another one of these fancy ILC dinners, not as a WCCUSD ambassador, but as an alumni.