Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Experimenting

Today in class we discussed financial statements in CHESS, called Rooms Contribution Statements (RCS) and profit & loss statements. We learned about many different variables that are involved in the management and operation of a hotel, including variable expenses: expenses that can increase or decreases with more occupancy or product, and fixed expenses: an expense that does not change, on the other hand. For example, in the managing of a hot dog stand, there are expenses on such things such as hot dogs, buns, condiments, and the actuall cart. As more people want to purchase hot dogs, while the vendor needs to pay for more food, he does not need to pay more for the cart. Therefore the food is a variable expense while the cart is a fixed expense.

The moment we’ve been waiting for: our first simulated hotel management experience – CHESS. Today we went to the Bin Lab to experiment with the simulation. It allows us to operate a hotel over an imaginary period of time. A simulated 10 days, which is the extent of our management, could last as few as 2 hours. We experimented today with it in preparation for our CHESS memo, which is due Friday, in which we will describe what could be improved to generate the most revenue, as the last owner did a lousy job in managing the hotel. I played around with rates, products, services, and the time speed. I found it very interesting, it was really like a game, and it was fun seeing how many rooms you sold and to which group, either business, leisure, or groups. I learned that most business groups stay on the weekdays while leisure groups prefer the weekends, which affects the amount of service you must put into certain days. There are basically 5 rates, ranging from A to E ($70 to $110) and you want to make sure more people book a room at rate E ($110). As soon as too many people booked room A, you could close that rate, so no one would buy at that low rate anymore. The “game” is essentially a page with a clock, and several open windows which represent the product planner or statistics.

Afterward, we headed to the Bin Lab to further discuss Microsoft Word and explore advanced templates, which were really interesting. Basically, we learned about how to set up that piece of paper that companies or industries send people in the mail that represents their product or service. Not only did we learn about the controls and functionality, about the importance of standardization, quality control, and efficiency, but our assignment was to design our own template for our own company. It sounded so fun, until he told us it was due at 9:00 PM today, right at the end of office hours. I was looking forward to work on it, but nervous to get it done on time, especially when class ended at 4:00 PM.

Then, I must say, came the most fun I’ve ever had in that class. Mark went over PowerPoint Presentations, because we have a group project on Monday. My group has to create a PowerPoint on BestWestern, for which we began researching, but not collaborating yet. We shall devote ourselves completely starting Friday at the latest, until after the CHESS memo is due. Mark started with a mock presentation, which was filled with hilarious slides and moments. He was teaching us how not to present our product. He gave us many, many tips on the presentation itself and on our behavior, such as remembering to smile, moving around the classroom, maintaining good stature, not to fidget with anything and have good transitions. It’s everything we’ve heard before in high school, except it was so well presented and funny. I paid attention to every single detail. I must say I am looking forward to rehearsing with my group as soon as we have time.

I did not have time for dinner today, as I was working on my memo, which did not go very well. I was becoming nervous, but when I arrived at the Bin Lab, I received assistance from the TA’s, who helped everyone set up their templates. Time seemed to be flying by. I asked for help from the TA’s, which is very important to do, for those who are taking this class next year, remember to ask for help! It may seem intimidating, but they are friendly and are all students in the Hotel industry. Also, make sure to talk to Mark and Reneta! Make sure they know who you are and ask them questions. Your points for participation in the class is the LAST thing you want to lose, when you can lose points if not all your group members show up on time to any meeting. Gladly, no one has done this, and we have all our points so far.
For now, I am planning on working on my CHESS memo and getting a good night’s sleep, for we have no official homework for tomorrow, though I need to re-read some of the material.

I Played CHESS

Today, I played CHESS. Not traditional chess with knights, kings and queens but CHESS. The Competetive Hospitality Education Simulation Series 1 and I liked it! It was not the Sims-esque virtual game that I expected, but instead a rather outdated looking system of charts and graphs. It was all the factors that we can manipulate to increase the profit in our hotel. Our target was to make $70,000 profit in one week. My hotel had the same ADR (average daily rate), and occupancy that most other people in my class had, which was the target, so I felt very good about my first CHESS experience. Then, Mark gave a hilarious performance of how NOT to do a professional presentation, as well as tips on what makes a great performance.
After class, I stayed in the lab to work on my memo template assignment. It was great because it was me and one other person there and we had the head TA and even Mark, for a time, available to answer any questions we had about the assignment. I am definitely planning on returning in the future. I spent about two hours after class in the computer lab and then began to walk back to Appel to eat dinner. After a quick dinner with the company of Andrew, Dyana, Alex and Andrew, I headed back to class for our Office Hours.

Cornell's beautiful campus:

The walk to class:
The Cornell School of Hotel Administration:


Tomorrow, we will have a guest presentation about the proper way to write a business memo, which will be complimentary to our lesson today about creating a memo template.

Busy, Busy Day

This morning I woke up exhausted. I blame it all on the beds. I feel like I sleep the same amount of hours as I do at home but I don’t rest as well. I’ve also realized I have a very special learning style. I need some sort of interactive learning. I can’t sit still and listen for long periods of time. I need to be visually looking at something or writing something down. Otherwise I start to doze off. I know it’s a terrible habit but it’s impossible to control, I try and try but it’s so difficult. Even if the lecture’s interesting, I can’t help but doze off. It’s not like I sit there and yawn either my eyes just automatically start to close.

Luckily by the time I start seriously having issues paying attention it’s time for a break and a switch of environments. We move to the computer labs. Today, once again we explored Microsoft Office. We learned how to make our Memo templates, which we had to turn in at the end of office hours. I ran into some complications so I decided to stay for a little bit after class to get some help from the TA’s. This helped later when I had to make my own memo template.

I also did my laundry today. I had to set up an online account using my NET ID for a laundry plan. It was pretty simple and you can keep track of your machines online. The only bad part is having to go all the way down to the basement and then back up to the dorm room. That’s a hassle. But, my clothes is clean and I’m happy.

Tomorrow I want to go to the Cornell Store and buy a sweater. The weather’s been really strange lately. It’s cold, then it’s warm, then it’s sunny but cold, then the sun goes down and it’s just cold, and all of our rooms are strongly air conditioned. I’M ALWAYS COLD. I hate being cold. I was wearing full on jeans and a cardigan today and I was still freezing all day. I guess it’s better than being extremely hot. Day 3 of school and I already feel like we've been here a full week.

I need food!

I didn’t want to wake up early today, I was just too tired, but I did because I didn’t want to miss breakfast. If you miss one meal here, then you won’t eat another one for quite some time. I got up, and dressed to head with my fellow Kramnick kids to breakfast. I took a new approach to breakfast today, strictly fruits, grains, and cereal. I still got full enough to sustain my hunger until lunch, and it actually tasted better than the average continental breakfast we’ve been eating. As usual the hotel students left earlier than us. My discovery yesterday seems to be true, every day that goes by the Kramnick kids see less and less of the Hotelies. Hopefully this 4th of July weekend will reunite us.

As we walked to class, we found a new scenic short cut route. It wasn’t that much of a scenic route but, any change in scenery from the average is a pleasure.
We arrived to class about 45 minutes early, and all the seats in the front were already occupied, I guess this shows how serious and competitive most of the students at Cornell are. We had another interesting lecture for an hour and a half discussing St. Thomas Aquinas, and St. Augustine. The major discussion was that Augustine was very pessimistic about man’s ability to be saved, where as Aquinas had more belief in mankind, I guess you could say that Aquinas was more optimistic. Aquinas’ theory that “an unjust law is no law at all” is the platform in which Martin Luther King Jr. based his protest off of.
We moved into our sectional groups after lecture, where we compared and contrasted laws, and how each philosopher (Aquinas, and Augustine) would handle particular scenarios. I’m really intrigued with our sectional groups, and I enjoy the dynamics of the class. We pretty much discussed this the whole time in groups of about seven. I am feeling more confident each day that I’m grasping the material. After our T.A. section was over, we Kramnick kids all ate lunch together at Trillium, the food is definitely better than Appel, but as Jacky and I said, it’s nothing compared to food from home. Also joining us Kramnick kids at lunch was one of my fellow team Kaplan members, Jacky. I enjoyed her company, now we just need to grab the other two hotelians back into the ILC circle. I do understand though that there course is very rigorous, and that’s why I can’t really expect to “hang out” with them until they have a day off.
After lunch we went back to our sectional groups for a writing workshop, but the writing workshop turned out to be an extension off of our previous discussion, regarding Augustine, and Aquinas. I enjoyed the discussion though, so I wasn’t worried.
We have another MANDATORY floor meeting today, how great for us! I hope it’s not too long, and we actually get something out of it. Wish us luck.

Here Comes the Sun

Today is only the third day of our class at Cornell and it has already been feeling like it has been forever since we arrived here for the program. It is definitely apparent that all of us are immediately adjusting to our college environment, which includes the surprisingly chilling weather, campus walks, and especially the food. The adaptation to this environment is a positive step towards us being able to develop good routines such as meeting after class to begin working on our readings and work on our blogs.

When we finished our assignment early last night, our friend Jordan and I went against Alex and Andrew Gonzalez in a basketball game up to twenty-one points at a nearby sports facility. The game was intense, and the score ended up going to Alex and Andrew G. who narrowly defeated us 22-20. Being able to play sports with each other is a way for us to meet new people. We had the chance to play a little kid from the sports camp, which was sort of cool to interact with people in a friendly competition. After the game, we walked out into the cool night on the Cornell Campus laughing and joking as if I was back home, completely relaxed after a long day’s worth of lectures and work.

Coming back to our lecture today, we moved on from bible studies of the Old and New Testament to philosophers who have had a great impact on Christianity and political thought. These two philosophers were St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, each with different interpretations of Christ’s words. The need for government is paramount in both but there are definitely different attitudes toward humanity by the two. In my personal opinion, I was more attached Kramnick’s lecture on Aquinas and how his view of humanity, compared to the more pessimistic view by Augustine viewing men as completely mired in sin, is that we all have the capacity for good and that we took as the general populace can play a role in government. All my life I believe that all people are good despite if they are slightly corrupted and that we should be proactive in doing “supernatural good” for others.

We also received our essays that we wrote two days earlier and looked over the corrections. My teacher assistant Simon G. advised me to sort of add a few more questions that put my points into greater perspective with the definition of “freedom.” As this is a class requiring analysis, the benefit in answering more questions in our essay that revolve around philosophical concepts like freedom is that is shows greater understanding. Instead of us just knowing what the philosopher said, we are able to take those concepts, show whether we disagree or not, and expand upon it with our own interpretation. I was satisfied with how we reviewed our last night reading with a chart in which we compared the different views the Old Testament, New Testament, Augustine, and Aquinas would all have on governmental powers and society. Like a crime scene, we connected all the pieces of information into an understandable format.

Tonight’s assignment is one of the longest, which is Plato’s “The Republic.” Professor Kramnick advised us to all read it in one day, but luckily we have an advantage with our early preparation. Even so not to get overconfident, we plan to meet up again for more review and in depth analysis for tomorrow’s lecture.

Plato Awaits

My mornings are all starting to blend together. I wake up, take a shower, get my backpack ready, and head down to Andrew and Jordan’s room so that we can go down to the lobby and wait for Andrew Woo and Dyana, when she hasn’t already gone down to Appels with the Hotellies. I’ve fallen into a rhythm with my mornings and it feels a lot like home. Other than my mornings, there has been something new to experience every day.

Today, Prof. K lectured about St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas. I’ve always found Augustine’s work to be a bit depressing because of how pessimistic he is towards human nature. He believed that the entire human race is condemned for Adam’s “original sin” in the Garden of Eden and that there is little to no hope for the salvation of humans. I’m just glad that we had study sessions and discussed Augustine in depth before we got here. I wouldn’t have understood him nearly as well as I do now if the group hadn’t met during school. I think Augustine is a good match for Aquinas because Aquinas is easier to read and he incorporates tenets from Augustine’s beliefs into his philosophies. This made it easier to discuss Aquinas during our TA session, which is always a good thing since the TA’s give us our grades. I need to get more accustomed to taking notes in Prof. K’s class. Taking notes always makes me split my attention and I don’t learn as much, so I need to find some way to catch everything important that he says, even if I’m writing.

After Prof. K’s lecture, we headed to our respective TA sessions. These sessions are one of the best parts of my days. This gives us the chance to take an active role in our studies, which is what I prefer, instead of just listening to Prof. K tell us about each philosopher. Today the majority of our class session was spent outside. It was nice and warm because the courtyard we were sitting in was under the direct sunlight. It was a nice contrast to the cold seminar room that we are usually in. We had to contrast Augustine’s views with Aquinas’ on topics such as tyranny and the significance of law. I have to try not to get used to the simple stuff because soon we will cover Plato (of which there are over 100 pages that we have to read by tomorrow).

After lunch at Trillium, we went back to the cold seminar room (which will be called the ice box from now on) to attend our writing workshop. It actually turned out to be a continuation from the discussion we had before lunch. The only thing that was related to our writing was the receipt of our essays on freedom. We have to hand in a second draft on Friday. Simon’s comments were neither good nor bad; they were simply suggestions concerning different perspectives of what we wrote. We just have to address his questions in the new draft and augment our essays accordingly.
In anticipation of the busy night we had ahead of us, the Andrews and I drew up a battle plan, of sorts. We decided to head back to the dorms immediately and blog so that the rest of the night could be concentrated on Plato. This is going to be our biggest challenge yet because when we read Plato the first time it was spread out over five weeks. We have to read all of this in one night. It’s not going to be easy, but we can do it.

I need to work now, so I’m going to end the blog. Sorry about the absence of pictures, I usually snap some shots after our classes. Today we didn’t have time though. So until tomorrow, I’m signing off.

Advantages

Day 08/St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas

I've been at Cornell for five days now and I think it is safe for me to conclude that dining at "North Star", at the Appels Common has become slightly boring. Their food isn't bad at all; I've tried pretty much everything they had to order. However, what I do find boring, is their selection. Day after day, the selections are generally the same. The "Greens" stand serves salad. The "All Around the World" stand only serves food from one country and it's only at lunch. Breakfast always has scrambled eggs, hardboiled eggs and potatoes. It's only difference is the meat each day; it was bacon today and yesterday it was honey-glazed ham. Dinner also works like this. Everyday there's a main course that differs, but besides that everything else has not changed. "I'm getting tired of eating pizza everyday," I overhear someone say in a table next to ours. For me personally though, I don't really mind at all. I'm just happy that there's food to eat every morning, afternoon, and dinner. It's friendly to my budget and always there when I'm hungry. I guess I've just been told before that Cornell had "the best food for a college" that my expectations may have been too high.

Today's class focused on the texts of the famous philosophers: St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas. These two European philosophers played an important role, both in early Christian political thought and Western philosophy in general. Thanks to the studies we've prepared before class earlier this year, it was a lot easier to grasp the concept of what Prod. Kramnick was talking about. When I hear his lectures, I do not feel like I'm diving into the water for the first time; I feel as if everything is familiar.

Although all my reading for the class had been completed before the class started, I didn't feel that what I've studied possibly 3 months ago would help me very much. Therefore, I spent my entire evening in my dorm, re-reading everything for tonight. The amount of reading I was doing, was the amount I would really be doing on my own and for the first time, if I hadn't entered this course with the help of the ILC. All of the other students do have a lot of intense work cut out for them and I understand completely what they're up to. Summer college is no joke; reading and taking notes are the way to go here. I am glad that I came to Cornell prepared.

Prof. Kramnick is also doing a wonderful job with the lectures. If you didn't fully understand your reading but have done it anyways, he will make sure that you grasp the key points of your reading in his lectures. It was reassuring to hear that most of what I believed Augustine and Aquinas were writing about were what Prof. Kramnick was teaching us.

St. Augustine is the bishop of Hippo. He was born in 354 BC. right after the famous Roman emperor, Constantinople, declared that the Roman Empire would become the Holy Roman Empire for it's official religion was declared Christianity. He was most known for his work, "The City of God." He believed that since Adam and Eve had sinned for eating the fruit, all human beings were forever tainted as sinners. In other words, the human nature of all people lacked virtue or good, even though the idea of a human is not bad at all, since they were still God's creation. Augustine was a pessimistic Christian, strongly believing that every human being sought out to harm and oppress others rather than, as Jesus would say, love each other. Augustine was also very well known for his theory of the two cities, the City of Flesh (Man) and the City of God. The City of Man is meant for failure; everyone is located here. In this city, an earthy peace is maintained and a political sovereign is able to take control because he was believed to have been appointed by God. Within the City of Man are a few individuals who also belong in the City of God, although they do not know it. The City of God is where, those who have not sinned, will enter. Augustine also disagrees with Christ when it comes to war. Christ would argue that one should always love their enemies no matter what and should anyone strike you, you are expected to "turn the other cheek." Augustine however, argues wars could be fought as long as it is moral. In other words, as long as it's an act of defense or for the sake of God.

Aquinas came a little bit less than a thousand years after Augustine. This Italian philosopher existed at the time when Christianity became the central religion throughout Europe and when the Pope was considered a leading and prominent figure. Unlike Augustine, Aquinas looked at Christianity at a more optimistic light and argued that although all men are considered sinners, they were also capable of reason. Under Augustine, one was in no way able to go against the ruling of your secular political leader, but in the case of Aquinas, the people had the right to disobey their king's laws if they proved to not benefit the common good and/or defy the Divine Law (God's Law.) Aquinas definitely gives the human race more credit. Aquinas based a lot of his ideas from the New Testament and Augustine reminds me, in some parts, of the Old Testament.

Both of them were two very different philosophers that wanted to redefine the meaning of Christianity. Our discussions about our readings furthered in our section groups. Today, our group did a lot of progress and a generally great discussion followed. We took some time to compare the Old/New Testament, Augustine, and Aquinas, by putting their beliefs onto a chart regarding our course's important themes: Justice, Freedom, and Equality.

Our TAs also handed our essays back. In a nutshell, I got a generally good feedback. My TA enjoyed my interesting approach to the definition of freedom but I needed to expand on some of my reasons more. A revised version of this draft is due on Friday and I know it is better to start today. I am ready to start writing because I've finally developed a good outline.

There's also another reason why I am extremely glad the ILC kids got a leg up in terms of the "Freedom and Justice" course. Tonight we'ere reading Plato. Prof. Kramnick suggests that the best idea is to read the whole assignment first and then reread it again tomorrow. For my classmates, that's more than 100 pages of reading, and on top of that, it is material on Plato. I enjoyed reading about Plato, but he was confusing at times. I still plan to read tonight, but I'm glad I do not have to start off on square one like the majority of my class.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

CHESS, anyone?

Today in class we discussed business computing, among other topics. We learned corporate concepts such as standardization, which is the logo, what distinguishes a company from another; customers have a consistent perfection, as well as quality control, which are basically keeping those standards. Now, it is important to meet your standards, not exceed them, otherwise, they are not really standard anymore. It was also very interesting to learn how to make templates, which are basically electronic letterheads. We learned about efficiency, which is getting the most with the least, in simple terms, and effectiveness - how well something works. Now, companies can also have a competitive advantage, in which they set an impression in their customers' minds about the company. We also briefly learned about memos, which is one of our assignments that is due Friday.

We finally arrived at the famous, or maybe infamous, CHESS simulation. This is the premise: there is a 250-room, limited service hotel in downtown Syracuse, New York. The previous manager did a lousy job and now the New Bank of Syracuse owns it and asked you to be the consultant and make recommendations on running it. In the memo assignment, we have to state our vision for this hotel, which has to make $70,000 weekly in departmental income. Reneta introduced us to the simulation, which seemed very interesting, in which we would handle the three market segments - business, leisure, and groups. We must manage the process of selling rates to customers and make sure they are satisfied.

Later on, Mark went over Microsoft Office Word 2007. I thought to myself, this would be a cinch. I was terribly wrong. There are so many little things that are hidden in the program that no one seems to know about. They make typing much more efficient and productive. All these shortcuts and functions were really interesting to hear about. I can't wait for our first try at the CHESS simulation tomorrow!

It Keeps Getting Better

Today was the second day of class here at Cornell. We did the usual, met up for breakfast, the hotelies had to leave very early to start walking to class, class, eat lunch, class, walk back to the dorm, rest, eat dinner, walk to office hours and then walk back to class. This, with minimal variation, is what seems to be our set schedule for the rest of our program. It is about a 20 minute walk from our dorm to the hotel school. A trip we are required to make twice a day, which means that we are walking for about one hour and twenty minutes each day! Now, I am definitely not the exercise fanatic and I know its great to keep in shape by walking everywhere but the weather here is so unbearable, I find the walk to be an irritating nuisance. Thus, after his experience, I do not think Cornell (or any other large school) is for me because of the distance between the different buildings.

Class was very interesting today. My favorite lecturer is Mr. McCarthy as he is very lively and humorous throughout his presentations. Both of the professors obviously are experts in their field and it shows. Today, Mark gave us a presentation about how to properly write a memo, showed us how to make a template and gave a brief lecture on business computing. Reneta gave us an overview of the CHESS program, which we will start playing tomorrow. I have been looking forward to playing CHESS for a very long time and am definitely excited.

Long Days with Loads of Work

Today went by pretty much the same as yesterday. It’s about 9:40pm and I just got back to my dorm room from office hours. It’s crazy how much time we spend in class, but I actually really like it. I mean, it’s long and tiring, I’ve taken naps after class before dinner since yesterday and I think I’m going to keep that going. It’s a really nice way to give my mind rest to be able to concentrate during office hours. This way I’m more productive as opposed to if I did something else after class, went to dinner, then back to office hours. I would be drained if I tried to do that. I also went to bed earlier last night so getting up this morning was easier. My sleeping habit is improving already.

During class today, we explored Microsoft Office 07, it’s amazing how no matter the familiarity with a common program there’s functions we fail to discover. We learned simple but useful techniques that will help us format templates and keep them for future use. I love the practicality of this class. As opposed to regular high school, this class is teaching me about a field, about an industry. One of the biggest industry’s in the world nonetheless! Lecture today went off somewhat off topic when the class got into discussing finances. Reneta, our professor kept saying how off that spectrum was from the spectrum of the class. It was confusing, interesting but confusing. Later during office hours we had more than 40 pages to read for homework in addition to a group memo we were supposed to sign and turn in before the end of office hours. The reading was long and a little tedious, but I really tried to understand it. I had to look up abbreviations like CMBS (Commercial Mortgage-Backed Security), BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China), EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization), and REIT (Real Investment Trust). Looking these up helped make the text clearer to the point where I more or less had an understanding of what I was reading. It took more time to look them up but it’s pointless to read something and not understand so it’s worth it taking that extra time to ensure comprehension.

Today we were also introduced to CHESS (Competitive Hospitality Education Simulation Series). A business letter is due on Friday to describe what our basic plan is to improve the Hotel Room sales. I’ve discovered that we aren’t trying to sell rooms, we’re trying to sell rates. One room that can sell for $70 has the potential to sell for $110, we just have to figure out when to close the lower rates so that people are actually willing to pay more for the same. The professors have mentioned we have to learn the way our guests work, not the way the market works. Tomorrow when we get to play around with it, I’m going to pay attention to all those details, what works and what doesn’t so that when the real trial comes along, I’ll be able to operate a successful hotel.

During office hours I also remembered Mrs. Kim wants me to give her a draft of personal statements by the end of this month, which is tomorrow. With all the commotion of the pre-trip, the trip, and now class I completely forgot. I’ve developed a plan: I’ll write the personal statement tonight before bed check, if I don’t finish it, I can finish it tomorrow, even after office hours because we’re three hours ahead, turning it in at 10pm tomorrow would be 7pm back home. I think it works. Thinking about personal statements makes college a reality, being here really makes college even more of a reality. I’m starting to notice everything that I have to take into consideration before actually making a decision. I need to consider the surrounding area, the weather, the residential facilities, factors besides the academics of schools. This all just gives me more to think about. It’s no longer ages away like it once was, it’s around the corner and it’s still scary.

K squared gives us a visit

Today was the first day my alarm did its job. I set it up for 6:30 A.M., and it woke me up just then, I was so elated! Anyways, we all got up and met in the lobby to head for breakfast at around 7:30. The food is now starting to get old; I can really appreciate my home-cooked meal now. I’m tired of the simplicity, and limited daily selection of food in which the Appel dining hall has to offer. Truthfully the eggs are too fluffy and not enough flavor, the potatoes are fine, but every day is ridiculous, French toast and pancakes are dry and might as well not be food for flavor, but food to just fill hunger. Grapes were also good, but having them every day as well, leaves you with a bitter taste in your mouth, and even though I love sweets, I can’t continue to eat them every day. The hotelies always have to finish breakfast quickly because they have to be in class earlier than us Kramnick kids. As the days go on, it seems that the Hotel students and we Kramnick kids see less and less of each other. Hopefully we will be rekindled with our fellow ILC members soon.
We finished breakfast, and then headed to the lecture hall. Class begun at 9 A.M., and Prof. Kramnick began his lecture pertaining to the New Testament. He discussed the vertical and horizontal aspects of peoples love. The horizontal love refers to people showing love to people more, and this horizontal love occurs primarily in the New Testament. Vertical love refers to man’s love for God, and this reference is from the Old Testament primarily. In our study groups we came to the conclusion that horizontal love is a derivative (comes from) from vertical love, because in order to love others, you yourself have to experience the greatest love of all from God, the you can share love with other people. Also in the lecture Prof. Kramnick discussed that because of all the “contradictions” in the Bible, is why Christianity is so popular, and has been so successful. We had a surprising visit from our chaperone Mrs. Kaplan (Go team Kaplan), and our school board president, Mrs. Kronenberg listened in on the lecture and talked with us after the class for a little. They too joined us for our lecture from Judge Judy and left a little prematurely, but we were still glad to have their company.
After the intriguing lecture we all broke up into our separate groups, where the basic discussion was centralized around is it possible to truly love everyone, and at what point should you be the sacrifice for others. The discussion went really well because everyone has different opinions, and nearly everyone gives input and feedback. I like our T.A., he has great reasoning skills, always has insight, and though he’s not the most comical man, he’s brings life to the class.
After out sectional groups we went to lunch at Trillium. I’m so glad we got to have real food, and a change from the somber feeling of Appel. I had Chinese food that was extremely delicious. Us Kramnick kids all ate together, because the Hotel students had to leave and meet with their group members. We left lunch, and we went back to the lecture hall, to hear a lecture on what goes on in contemporary justice, for Judge Judy. Not the Judge Judy most of you are probably familiar with, but the Judge Judy that’s the judge for Ithaca.
When the lecture was over we got back to our dorms, and commenced to ponder how great our experience can be, as long as we press to the mark, and work harder each day!





















Today was the first day my alarm did its job. I set it up for 6:30 A.M., and it woke me up just then, I was so elated! Anyways, we all got up and met in the lobby to head for breakfast at around 7:30. The food is now starting to get old; I can really appreciate my home-cooked meal now. I’m tired of the simplicity, and limited daily selection of food in which the Appel dining hall has to offer. Truthfully the eggs are too fluffy and not enough flavor, the potatoes are fine, but every day is ridiculous, French toast and pancakes are dry and might as well not be food for flavor, but food to just fill hunger. Grapes were also good, but having them every day as well, leaves you with a bitter taste in your mouth, and even though I love sweets, I can’t continue to eat them every day. The hotelies always have to finish breakfast quickly because they have to be in class earlier than us Kramnick kids. As the days go on, it seems that the Hotel students and we Kramnick kids see less and less of each other. Hopefully we will be rekindled with our fellow ILC members soon.
We finished breakfast, and then headed to the lecture hall. Class begun at 9 A.M., and Prof. Kramnick began his lecture pertaining to the New Testament. He discussed the vertical and horizontal aspects of peoples love. The horizontal love refers to people showing love to people more, and this horizontal love occurs primarily in the New Testament. Vertical love refers to man’s love for God, and this reference is from the Old Testament primarily. In our study groups we came to the conclusion that horizontal love is a derivative (comes from) from vertical love, because in order to love others, you yourself have to experience the greatest love of all from God, the you can share love with other people. Also in the lecture Prof. Kramnick discussed that because of all the “contradictions” in the Bible, is why Christianity is so popular, and has been so successful. We had a surprising visit from our chaperone Mrs. Kaplan (Go team Kaplan), and our school board president, Mrs. Kronenberg listened in on the lecture and talked with us after the class for a little. They too joined us for our lecture from Judge Judy and left a little prematurely, but we were still glad to have their company.
After the intriguing lecture we all broke up into our separate groups, where the basic discussion was centralized around is it possible to truly love everyone, and at what point should you be the sacrifice for others. The discussion went really well because everyone has different opinions, and nearly everyone gives input and feedback. I like our T.A., he has great reasoning skills, always has insight, and though he’s not the most comical man, he’s brings life to the class.
After out sectional groups we went to lunch at Trillium. I’m so glad we got to have real food, and a change from the somber feeling of Appel. I had Chinese food that was extremely delicious. Us Kramnick kids all ate together, because the Hotel students had to leave and meet with their group members. We left lunch, and we went back to the lecture hall, to hear a lecture on what goes on in contemporary justice, for Judge Judy. Not the Judge Judy most of you are probably familiar with, but the Judge Judy that’s the judge for Ithaca.
When the lecture was over we got back to our dorms, and commenced to ponder how great our experience can be, as long as we press to the mark, and work harder each day!







Today was the first day my alarm did its job. I set it up for 6:30 A.M., and it woke me up just then, I was so elated! Anyways, we all got up and met in the lobby to head for breakfast at around 7:30. The food is now starting to get old; I can really appreciate my home-cooked meal now. I’m tired of the simplicity, and limited daily selection of food in which the Appel dining hall has to offer. Truthfully the eggs are too fluffy and not enough flavor, the potatoes are fine, but every day is ridiculous, French toast and pancakes are dry and might as well not be food for flavor, but food to just fill hunger. Grapes were also good, but having them every day as well, leaves you with a bitter taste in your mouth, and even though I love sweets, I can’t continue to eat them every day. The hotelies always have to finish breakfast quickly because they have to be in class earlier than us Kramnick kids. As the days go on, it seems that the Hotel students and we Kramnick kids see less and less of each other. Hopefully we will be rekindled with our fellow ILC members soon.
We finished breakfast, and then headed to the lecture hall. Class begun at 9 A.M., and Prof. Kramnick began his lecture pertaining to the New Testament. He discussed the vertical and horizontal aspects of peoples love. The horizontal love refers to people showing love to people more, and this horizontal love occurs primarily in the New Testament. Vertical love refers to man’s love for God, and this reference is from the Old Testament primarily. In our study groups we came to the conclusion that horizontal love is a derivative (comes from) from vertical love, because in order to love others, you yourself have to experience the greatest love of all from God, the you can share love with other people. Also in the lecture Prof. Kramnick discussed that because of all the “contradictions” in the Bible, is why Christianity is so popular, and has been so successful. We had a surprising visit from our chaperone Mrs. Kaplan (Go team Kaplan), and our school board president, Mrs. Kronenberg listened in on the lecture and talked with us after the class for a little. They too joined us for our lecture from Judge Judy and left a little prematurely, but we were still glad to have their company.
After the intriguing lecture we all broke up into our separate groups, where the basic discussion was centralized around is it possible to truly love everyone, and at what point should you be the sacrifice for others. The discussion went really well because everyone has different opinions, and nearly everyone gives input and feedback. I like our T.A., he has great reasoning skills, always has insight, and though he’s not the most comical man, he’s brings life to the class.
After out sectional groups we went to lunch at Trillium. I’m so glad we got to have real food, and a change from the somber feeling of Appel. I had Chinese food that was extremely delicious. Us Kramnick kids all ate together, because the Hotel students had to leave and meet with their group members. We left lunch, and we went back to the lecture hall, to hear a lecture on what goes on in contemporary justice, for Judge Judy. Not the Judge Judy most of you are probably familiar with, but the Judge Judy that’s the judge for Ithaca.
When the lecture was over we got back to our dorms, and commenced to ponder how great our experience can be, as long as we press to the mark, and work harder each day!

Judgment Day

Unlike the night before, it was quite cool and peaceful. There were no disrupting thunder storms or intense heat. I think I may have finally adjusted to the weather here at Cornell and its becoming pleasing. As I type this blog now, the weather is superb with a bright sun and cool, breezy winds that match that of San Francisco’s soothing conditions. This is definitely a great thing to feel while studying during the afternoon.

As usual, the routine was for me to wake up around 7:00 AM to wash up and meet up with the other ILC members and new friends to go to breakfast. Nothing extraordinary happened on our way there. We took our joyous time eating while the Hotel Operations and Management students had to leave early as usual to go to their class. Fortunately for us, Freedom and Justice starts later and ends earlier; leaving us lots of time to relax and enjoy other things at the campus as we have already looked over the readings that are covered in class.

During our second day of lecture from Professor Kramnick, I was finally relieved to feel that we are pushing forward with the curriculum in terms of answering the questions he gave us on the first day. We had read excerpts from the New Testament and he spared no time to jump into it. Instead of going over word for word, he does an efficient job in putting the entire reading in the terms of how justice is defined and is constantly subject to change from the Old Testament to the New Testament. For the two hour lecture or so, we explored the sayings of the testament and the transition in thought that ends up to modern Christianity. It was definitely enlightening especially on how modern religion still impacts society today in so many ways.

We moved on to our section study groups, which went better than yesterday with worksheets that had us sort of analyze excerpts from the reading and answering basic questions. Instead of having people arguing about irrelevant topics, at least there was some productivity in relation to our philosophy reading and interacting with the opinions of others. I am optimistic that I will be able to get through this course with determination and a clear goal in mind.

After lunch, we had an interesting lecture from our guest keynote speaker Judge Judy, who is the official from a City Court in Ithaca, New York. She was the first judge I ever heard explain the different things that go in court and the way she looks at certain issues that may infringe upon people’s rights for the safety of the community. Since I am a debater, it is always fun to have a calm discussion about topics that ask us to take a position and think of supporting ways to outweigh the others. People in there shared the same enthusiasm and this definitely inspires me to respect this program as one that gets everyone involved in using their intellect. I hope there will be more chances to meet other people on our march to greater knowledge.

Judges, Jail and Jesus

I cut off my blog a little early last night so let me tell you a bit about what we did. If I remember correctly, I stopped blogging to go to dinner. Dinner was great last night. The Andrews, Dyana, Jordan, two of Dyana’s friends that we have assimilated into our group (Esther and Kelsey), and I ate dinner at Appel. The food wasn’t any better than it has been, but we had a fun time. We had airport syndrome again, minus the fatigue. We were all making hilarious jokes and people stared at us from across several table lengths, but we didn’t care. We had a great time. Unfortunately we had to set a more serious tone so that we could study.

When we got back to the dorms, we all had to go upstairs and get our course packets so that we could commence our studies. Last night we studied pieces from the New Testament. The main theme of last night’s reading was to love everyone, despite any kind of treatment you get from them. There were also parts about how you should conduct your life in terms of charity and prayer. After today’s lecture, I definitely noticed a bit more about the subject than I did when we went over the material at Pinole. The discussion session also helped bring in some other views about Jesus and the philosophies he was informed of by God. I was also able to use some of the ideas we came up with last night in today’s discussion. I have a feeling that meeting in a group like that will be of great benefit to us.

Prof. K’s lecture today was interesting. One of the main points he made today was that the Bible is full of contradiction. The strange thing is, he claimed that this didn’t make it any less reliable of a source. That confused me. I wouldn’t trust a statement or source that was as contradictory as some of the pieces we read. I don’t know why I’m not used to contradiction yet because Plato had a lot of it and so did a few other philosophers we studied. I will just have to move past it though.

Our discussion session was very calm, just as I thought it would be. Everybody was basically building off of what others were saying or posing a question that would support the other side of an argument. I had tried a Socratic Seminar in my English class last year, but it failed because nobody was talking. This is how the discussion was supposed to be. It was very informative and a little fun. I hope our discussions continue in this direction.

After our discussion session, we enjoyed another wonderful lunch at Trillium. Since I told you about it yesterday, I’m just going to skip ahead to our guest speaker. Prof. K invited Judge Judy (not the one from TV) to speak to our class. She was very informative. She spoke about the different kind of cases that she handles, different aspects of broken laws and about the implications of old laws. I enjoyed listening to her speak. She was very confident and had the complete attention of everyone in the lecture hall. I have to admit, I was not looking forward to taking more notes, but I’m glad that I had a chance to listen to her.

After we listened to Judge Judy, we came back to the dorm and now I’m writing this blog. The Andrews and I are about to go to office hours with our TA so that we can make a good impression and clear up anything we didn’t quite understand. Until tomorrow, I’m signing off.
PS- Here are some more great pictures of Cornell's campus. Enjoy











Guest Speakers and Scenic Trails

Day 07/ An Introduction to Christian Thought in Political Philosophy


The weather in Ithaca is strange. I was informed that prior to arriving to New York, that the weather here was generally hot and humid in the summer. Instead, I discovered it actually had a mind of its own. Two nights ago, one of the worse summer thunderstorms raged on while all of us attempted to get some good sleep before our first day of classes. In the morning, the sky stayed depressingly gloomy and even rained a couple of times. This morning however, I woke up to a cool walk to class; the winds were picking up and sun was playing hide-and-go-seek in the clouds. It even got to a point when I started feeling a bit chilly from the cold and actually wanted the hot temperatures to come back. Those temperatures did return however, right as I was walking to the dorms from class. By the time I got there, I sweating. In my dorm room now, I can feel the muggy air trying to strangle me and I'm pretty sure those fluffy white clouds drifting lazily in the clear blue sky, outside my window, are mocking me. I thought I was getting used to you, but it seems, Mr. Ithaca Weather, we have more ways to go.


Today was the second day of class but also the official first day of course lecture. Before entering, we were all expected to have read the assigned pages from "The New Testament". As soon as Prof. Krmanick arrived, put down his wrist watch, and class chimed simultaneously, "Good morning Prof. Kramnick!", the lecture took off with immediate speed.


Prof. Kramnick had an engaging way of speaking. He was easy to follow and understand. Based on his style of speech, I can easily pick up what points he really emphasizes, which, in other words, meant that it was most likely going to be on an exam. I've always liked taking notes, simply because I've done it for as long as I can remember. And knowing that a lot of what people do in college class is to do just that, it made me feel as if I had not wasted anytime preparing myself to that point when I was a child.

Like yesterday, we also had our Discussion Sections after lecture with our TAs. But unlike Mondays and Wednesdays, Tuesdays and Thursdays had a guest speaker(s) after lunch instead of a writing workshop. Our guest speaker today was Ithaca's city judge, Judith A. Rossiter, or, as Prof. Kramnick likes to call her: "Our own Judge Judy".

Judge Judy took us down her world as a city judge, showing us what sort of cases she works with, her role as a city judge, and definitions to popular terms used in the field of law. In addition to that, another part of her presentation to us consisted of various scenario questions in which she required the participation of the class. Some examples included the making of illegal drugs legal, to the idea that family members had to be punished along side a a convicted family member. I have to say, Prof. Kramnick knows who to invite as guest speakers. She spoke very well.

After class, I decided to take a much slower walk back to the dorms. Everyday, we pass by this bridge on Central Ave. There was a dam and waterfall just behind the fences and I've always wanted to take a closer look. My curiosity led me to a beautiful scenic trail, surrounding a lake, just behind the dam. I instantly took my camera out and began taking many photos.



Ever since we've arrived to the East Coast, I've become more aware of the wildlife. In California, I was used to seeing orange poppy flowers and seagulls sqwacking obnoxiously. But being here, in Ithaca, I realized that they were gone. In their place stood animals and plants I was not used to seeing every single day. For instance, I always find these large black ants on the floor; it was a bit of a shock when I first discovered them. Here at Cornell, I've also seen rabbits, another breed of squirrels, several unfamiliar bird breeds, possums, and even a chipmunk darting in front of the Cornell Store one day. In terms of trees and plants, Cornell has plenty of all shapes and colors that I've never seen in the outside together before. I think this was my first time seeing lily pads on a lake, that wasn't in a zoo or park. Or maybe, I just haven't been this aware of my surroundings as before...








I had dinner with three of my new friends: Linh, Kelsey, and Esther. It feels like it's been more than four days because even dinner feels like routine. Everyone is currently busy studying or goofing off around here. The environment around the dorms are actually pretty quiet. My roommate is rarely in the dorm with me in the day time so I take advantage of it and use it as my "study hall" instead.

Tomorrow we tackle St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas!

More shots from around Cornell:




Monday, June 28, 2010

From Humble Beginnings









Last night, there was an extremely loud thunderstorm and lightning that preventing me from going to sleep before 2:00 AM, not that I was in bed much earlier. I woke up at 7:00 AM, very early for me, even earlier than when I wake up for school in Hercules. Beilul and I went to eat breakfast together. We then headed to class with a large group of people, all Hotelies and all from the same building, Mary Donlon Hall.

Jacky, Beilul and I were already breathless. We entered the classroom for the first time, at around 8:20 AM (class starts at 8:30 AM). I could already tell that I would like the professors, who actually advise us to speak to them on a first name basis: Mark and Reneta. For those students who were late, Mark jokingly, but unbeknownst to them, told them that as punishment that hey to sing their national anthem. It was very funny seeing them prepared to start until Mark told them it was a joke. Both Reneta and Mark are playful and display their affection for each other while sometimes joking about each other in class. In three hours we accomplished three things: introductions, student intros, and a lab exercise.

Mark and Reneta introduced themselves and the course, and then, we got into groups of 2 or 3. We had about 6 minutes to learn about someone and introduce them to the class and vice a versa. It was very fun to hear about everyone’s culture and hobbies and such, but overall it was actually intimidating. I was very surprised to hear that most students actually have parents who owns hotels in far-away places including Africa and who attended Cornell.

The vast majority has had experience in the business and is awaiting a summer internship, while only a few students, including myself, knew virtually nothing about the hotel business. However, I knew that I could master the material if I really set my mind to it. I am incredibly happy with my group. Although they are all girls, we get along really well.

I talk to them as I do with some students from Hercules. One of them is from New Jersey and another is from Connecticut. We had fun in the Lab room, where we had to complete our assigned readings. We asked questions and the TA helped the students with what she could. Earlier in the day, we took a Behavioral Analysis Quiz that determines what kind of worker we are, I ended up being a Stabilizer-Analyzer, so it varies among my group.

I am confident we will work well together with our group project, as they all seem willing to learn. I will make sure to take extensive notes tomorrow especially because it is not enough simply reading the material, although Reneta advises us to. I am trying to get the hang of this material, a lot of it is confusing, with the entire hotel lingo, but I’m sure that with time, I will understand. Overall, the first day went well!

Some videos from Yesterday!

During the crash course, the instructor woke us up by throwing beach balls at the students

video

This thunderstorm kept me up until 2:00 AM

video

First Day of Class


Today was my first day as a hotelie! I also bought a new laptop to replace the damaged one in my dorm, so I am almost all set.

All the ILCers met up in the morning and headed off to Appel Commons for breakfast at about 7:25, shortly after the hotel students started our trek to the first day of class. We arrived a bit early and found our seats. Slowly but steadily the class began to fill up until there were 80 students there ready to learn about the world’s most dynamic industry. Following the course outline presentation, Group A went to the computer lab while Group B stayed in the class to do introductions. At the computer lab, we were instructed to take a personality quiz and then create a memo to our professors outlining why you chose this program, something interesting about yourself, your personality quiz results, and where or not you agree with the results. I ended up being a stabilizer-analyzer. The memo was a bit more confusing, as I had never written one before, but I relaxed when the TA’s said that this little exercise will not go on our grade and instead is practice to help our professors know how much all the students know.

After our computer program, Group A headed back to the classroom where we participated in a student introduction. Basically, we paired off with someone we didn’t know and had to introduce them to the class after a 5 minute conversation. Many of the students really impressed me. It seems as though everyone either had or has a parent or sibling that attended Cornell or their parents own hotels or travel agencies. It was incredibly intimidating.

The lecture was very interesting. We learned about the major players of the hotel industry which includes Starwood, Marriot, Hilton, etc. We went over the service level classifications from luxury to budget. Overall it was a great way to kick of the class.

Today, they also assigned us our groups that they formulated from the personality quiz we took earlier. My group consists of Arian, Max, Adrienne and I. I found my group to be easy going and very bright. It is also a perfect blend of two girls and 2 guys all from different geographical backgrounds. Already Mark and Reneta have announced that our first group presentation is on Monday. Each group has been assigned a hotel company and we are going to give an 8 minute presentation to inform the class about the company. My group has been assigned to Choice Hotels International.

Overall, class got off to a great start. I am definitely looking forward to class tomorrow.

Antony falls hard!!

Finally, the day of the classes begin. I went to bed nervous, excited, and just couldn’t wait for tomorrow to finally come. While in bed early this morning around 1:00 A.M., there was a massive thunderstorm. There were loud noises, and rainfall was bountiful. At first both my roommate Jordan and I were unsure of what it actually was, but after a few seconds we quickly figured out the nature of the storm. Even through the storm, I quickly fell back asleep, and couldn’t wait for tomorrow to turn into today. Now today has finally come and I’m ready to commence my class, and challenge any opposition that comes my way. Jordan, and I woke up very early, at around 6:20 A.M., so we just got ready early, because it’s better to be early than late.
After getting dressed the day was now on its way. Yesterday Jordan met my Pinole/Hercules friends, so he came with me to meet our fellow group members for breakfast. We all reminded each other, whatever we talk about, do not bring up politics at the table, because of the argument that ensued yesterday. At breakfast the three hotel students (Jacky, Beilul, and Chris) left early to head for their long walk to the Statler. About 15 minutes later our freedom and justice group left to our lecture hall, which seemed to be and endless walk.
We arrived around 20 minutes early, and all you reading should be proud to hear that we all took the closest seats to Professor Kramnick. We had about an hour and a half lecture from Professor Kramnick on how to correctly write notes, the introduction to the class, how the course is organized, and getting to know everyone. Before the class even started an associate of ours Antony, fell really hard down the long stairs in the lecture hall. All about 82 students minus us ILC students laughed, and Antony just shook his head, laughed, and said “whatever.” At his expense, the class’s mood was lightened, and there was less tension. The lecture went well, and when it was over we proceeded to get lunch. Today was the first day that well all ate at the lunch hall called Trillium. Though the food at our previous dining hall (Appel) was good, the food at Trillium was ten times better. After lunch we broke into four separate groups with our teachers assistants (T.A.’s). We had a brief discussion about “what is freedom?”, and the after we wrote a short essay on our opinions. The homework for tonight’s class is to read the New Testament, Saint Augustine, and Saint Aquinas. This read shall be interesting pertaining to separation of church and state, and the “Two Cities” mentioned by Augustine.
After class we all headed to the campus store, I bought some flip flops, and we all just toured the store. As soon as we were ready to leave the store, the clouds of Heaven opened up, and the rain began to fall. We contemplated as to wait in the store until the rain stopped, but the rain seemed steady, so we walked through the rain for about 20 minutes. By the time we got back to the dorms I was soaked. Even though there was an abundance of rain, it was still very hot, and humid.
As soon as we Kramnick Kids (Freedom and Justice Student’s new nick name) got back to the dorms we began to blog on what had happened in the day so far. After the start of our blogs, we all went down for dinner in Appel, it’s definitely no Trillium. After dinner us Kramnick kids went to study the assigned work. The study group was getting intense when discussing religion, but all in all it was fine. I look forward to tomorrow’s discussion, and look to hear opinions from other high school students. We finished our studies with a total of 2.5 hours, I’m ready to sleep! Goodnight all.

Official "Hotelie"

There’s nothing in the world like California weather. Last night here at Cornell we had thunderstorms, gross. The loud noise and the lightening practically kept up me up half the night. I woke up this morning groggy and tired. I showered and got ready, then met up with the rest of the Ivy League Connection kids for breakfast. We took our time walking to class because we were early. The first two hours of class weren’t bad at all. We split up into two groups “A” and “B” I was in “B.” The first activity we did was introductions. Then we traded with group “A” and took a behavior style quiz, then wrote a memo about the program, why we chose it, etc. The behavior quiz said I’m a persuader-persuader, big surprise.

From 11:30am-1pm we had a lunch break, I had a simple salad and a water bottle. I really wasn’t all that hungry and I definitely miss being able to make my own food, I’m not used to all this restaurant/fast food. We went back to class and after about an hour and a half it was hard for me to concentrate I needed a break, something to wake me up. I was saved by Mark who decided too many chairs were squeaking and it was time for a break. We came back and I felt refreshed. At this point, we were also paired up into groups. We have to sit with these groups everyday and we’re all responsible for each other. If one member in our group is late, our whole group is late; if one member in our group is absent, we’re all absent. We exchanged contact information in order to keep track of each other, and I have a relatively good hunch about our group.

4pm came and we were dismissed from class. We walked the journey back to our rooms and I took a nap until dinner. I felt mentally exhausted. The class is pretty draining, for the first day, I think it was just a lot of information to take in. After dinner, once again we made our way back to class, this time to the computer labs for mandatory office hours. This time went by relatively quickly though, I read the homework assignment and even started doing research for our hotel presentation. We’re supposed to research and present Intercontinental Hotels Group or IHG. Finally at 9pm we were free. I came back to my room, called my mom and blogged. End of day 1 as a Cornell Summer College Student.

Freedom Writers


Today was the first day of our class as summer Cornellians and were ready for what was to come. The night before was just noisy with the booms of thunder and the instant flashes of lightening. I don’t know if I should appreciate the stale humidity now or the insane thunder storms that made me wake up three times. The flashes literally blinded my eyes even in bed, and I felt the entire building shake with a rolling rumble. After I woke up around 7:00 AM, I quickly brushed my teeth and ran down six flights of stairs to join the others for breakfast.

With the days passing, it seems we begin to meet new people and have them join us for breakfast. The entire ILC group went to breakfast and enjoyed a somewhat limited course of breakfast meals. Since I arrived at Cornell, every single time for a meal I picked out a nice greeny, crouton-filled salad with ranch dressing. I guess it is only for the better; keep my diet to greens and hopefully give my brain enough energy to play around with sports and studies. Aside from the food, the Freedom and Justice people relaxed around given our class does not start till around 9:00 AM.

We walked to Mallot Hall where Mr.Kramnick prepared a lecture hall for the 88 students that will be attending the three-week course. Our program to my information is the biggest right now in terms of participants compared to other programs. All of us took seats at the front desk area and we were in great position for seeing Kramnick and listening to his lecture. I placed my recorder to also record what he had to say about what the course was about, how it was organized, and a little about the grading system. He followed a very Socratic method in which he asked us multiple questions, all relating to government and its relationship to the people. Instead of answering them, he left that up to us to contemplate about for the next weeks as we focus on the different philosophers and their themes. One thing that was definitely emphasized was the fact that we should take note of everything. No matter what, we must train our brain to take notes and be vigilant in the learning environment. Mr.Ramsey was definitely correct about the intensity of the course and Kramnick only reassured that falling behind would be devastating, but at the same time that this class was not end of the world for students. After listening to Kramnick’s lecture, I am more confident that these next few weeks will be fine and that preparation has been helpful.

We then broke up into our individual sections with our TAs, and I was sent to was to a graduate student named Simon G from University of Edinburgh. He is planning to major in political thought in government and study of American politics. Even though he had an occasional hard time trying to silence the multiple voices of students during discussion, people shared a lot of their opinions and it was proof that everyone had different views about the topic of freedom. We were given the topic about “What is freedom?” and everyone became excited about discussing what it meant to them; creating numerous discrepancies. It seemed that with every input from an individual things became more intense and in many ways good that students are enthusiastic about talking about philosophy. I hope in the future there will be more enthusiastic discussions but not too passionate.

The entire day was sort of for the students to get used to the environment and the schedule. I hope to see you tomorrow as we dive into the thick of the philosophy.

Camp K Kicks Off

Today I awoke at 6:30 to begin my first day of Political Philosophy in Theory and Practice. It didn’t take too much for me to wake up today. I must have been subconsciously anxious to begin the course because I woke up immediately when my alarm went off. I took a shower and packed my backpack with all of my materials (i.e. books, packet and notebook) and headed down to breakfast with the rest of the ILC.

After breakfast, the Hotellies and the Kramnick Kids went our separate ways. While they went to the Statler, we marched to Malott Hall. When we got to the hall, we filed into a medium-sized lecture hall and we sat in the front. Almost everyone showed up within the next ten minutes…before Kramnick. Finally Prof. K showed up and I set up my camera to record his lecture. This was a really bad idea because it not only drained my battery, I could only record twenty-nine minutes at a time. My camera spent the rest of the day in my backpack and I plugged it in immediately when we got to the dorm. Regardless I didn’t take any pictures today.

Anyway, Prof. K’s lecture was pretty straight forward. He went over the reasons we study certain philosophers and the outline of the class. We practiced taking notes for Prof. K’s class by writing the outline and anything important he said about philosophers. I’m going to have to work on fast and easy note taking because I have never been one for taking good notes. I have confidence though.

After Prof. K’s lecture we met with our TA and the other twenty students in our respective groups. Andrew Gonzales and I got the same TA: Simon C. We have to call him Simon C. because there are two Simons that are TA’s. Andrew and Dyana have the other Simon as their TA. Our TA seems really helpful, insightful and lax. He is British so the accent keeps you interested. He also has an Oxford education! That really impressed me. We started by dividing ourselves and heading to our respective rooms for discussion. We began by doing an ice-breaker and introducing each other (and yes I mean “each other” instead of “ourselves). We had to get to know the two other people in our three person group and tell everyone about them. The next part of our day was lunch at Trillium.

Trillium’s food was delicious. The food in Appels was alright, but this food was food court quality. It was such a nice change from Appels. I enjoyed a sandwich and mac ‘n’ cheese. Even though it was a simple lunch, it was exquisite I would gladly walk down to Trillium over going to Appels. I ate with Dyana, the Andrews and Jordan and we all felt the same way about the food. Thankfully, we have to eat at Trillium on class days. Hooray A+ food!

After lunch we returned to our TA rooms and we began to discuss freedom. Our group discussed the concept of freedom and the different iterations of freedom. Once we completed discussion, we were told to write an essay about what freedom was to us. It was actually much simpler than I thought. Once I decided what my definition was, the rest flowed really easily. I finished my essay two minutes before class ended and had just enough time to review it. Finally, the long day of scholarly work was over.

The Andrews, Dyana, Jordan and I met at the Cornell Store after class adjourned. I bought a Cornell sweatshirt, a binder and a keychain. We headed back to the dorms after this. It finally rained while we were outside! It was so nice! The cool drops of rain covered us from head to toe by the time we returned. After everyone dried off, we gathered in Andrew and Jordan’s room (again). We began blogging once we all got settled in, except Jordan who enjoyed a nice PC game. I’m going to cut off my blog here because we are about to head out for dinner. We plan on studying after dinner, as a group, and practicing our Socratic discussion. I’ll let you know how it goes tomorrow because I think we will be studying a lot tonight. We need to come in swinging and make a great first impression.

Until then, I’m signing off.

Kramnick Kids and Hotelies

Day 06/ "Swimming" through the First Day

Thanks to the wonderful thunderstorm last evening, I didn't get a good night of a sleep as I originally wanted. Despite this setback, I carried on with my morning routine as the minutes to my "Freedom and Justice" class drew near. The storm had subsided by this morning, but the sun was still nowhere to be seen, and the humidity? Still very high and uncomfortable.

For breakfast, I sat with my fellow "Freedom and Justice" (ILC edition) peers. The Hotelies had class at 8:30 and their classroom was pretty far away, so I didn't get to see them for too long. I had a nice breakfast, but no matter what I stuffed into my stomach, I couldn't overturn that awful and familiar feeling I knew so well. It's one I've had in the past, and although it wasn't so bad this morning, I knew what it's presence meant. I was nervous. I was intimidated for class. I know I've prepared, but there was still some doubt that lingered within me. What if I don't understand what Professor Kramnick was talking about? What if I don't do well?

However, do not mistake me. It may seem that I'm scared out of my life about this class, but I'm actually much more excited. I was so happy that all the work we've done for the past 6 months was finally a few minutes away. Plus, Prof. Kramnick seemed like a very good teacher and I was very open about learning some new things, as well as expanding my horizons.

Alex, the Andrews, and I got to class about 20 minutes prior to 9:00am, the starting time. We made sure to sit as close to the front as possible. Mr. Kramnick arrived a little bit before the start of class. The rest of my fellow students sat silently, waiting. Our four T.A.s sat in the back of the class, but we didn't know at the time.

Lecture took about an hour and a half. We all followed Prof. Kramnick's outline, which he wrote on these really high-tech blackboards. The lecture flew by faster than I believe most of us would imagine. Near the end, Prof. Kramnick introduced to our class just how ethnically diverse we were. Twenty-five percent of our class was from outside the United States, and most of the students from he U.S. came from the East Coast.

After lecture, Prof. Kramnick read out the list of seven students who were to eat lunch with him later in the day. Unfortunately, my last name was pretty far away when it came to the alphabetic order he was using, so it was going to be awhile before I have lunch with him. Prof. Kramnick also split our classes into their four T.A. sections.

Our T.A.s were; Simon C., Simon G., Desmond, and Alison. All of them were on their way to gaining a PH.D and they all either came from Britain or in a colony that used to be ruled by Britain. Andrew G. and Alex Elms were paired together; they had Simon C. Andrew Woo and I were paired together in the last group and we had Simon G.

My TA's classroom, in Rockefeller Hall, was not air-conditioned and had no fans. The chairs were jammed-packed together and some of the chairs had difficult side tables to pull out and maintain. There were bright green vines surrounding the two glass windows in our room. Sunlight entered through them and brightened it up. I sat in the 3rd row.

The first thing Simon G. told us to do was to get to know someone sitting around you so you can introduce them after the activity was over, to the rest of the class. I met a new classmate this way; his name was Max from Westchester, New York. He wants to be lawyer someday and when he told me this, it made me realized that some of the students taking this class were aspiring to work in the field of law someday.

Our first section discussion with our T.A. was a bit long. We had a hard time getting started on what we wanted to talk about but when we eventually did, we just couldn't stop talking. I didn't know what the other T.A. sections were like, but I had a hunch that they were not as "passionate" about their topic discussions than we were.

Lunch followed soon after. Andrew Woo and I made our way to the Trillium after getting lost for a brief moment. The Trillium was packed with not just Summer College Students but also some Cornell College students as well. I grabbed some Middle Eastern food for lunch and sat with my fellow "Kramnick Kids" at a table at the back of the room.

By 1:15pm, our writing workshop with our T.A.s started. This was probably the highlight of my day. On the board, Simon G. wrote down our essay prompt: "What does freedom mean to you?" When I first saw this, I admit, I thought it wasn't so bad, but I soon found out just how wrong I was.

Simon G. gave us 40 minutes to write our essays. After 5 minutes, I found myself erasing and re-erasing many of my sentences in my introduction paragraph. I've always had trouble when it came to my starting words, but this time, that wasn't the case. I was really having trouble defining the word, "freedom".

Defining the word freedom proved to be tough as it is, but I also had to apply that definition to myself, since the question specifically asked what the word meant to me. Afterwards, I developed 3 different definitions for my essay:
  1. My personal freedoms, which are often taken for granted (ex: when a teenager gains the freedom to stay out later than they used to as a child.)
  2. My freedoms based on those given by my country. (ex: America's basic rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.)
  3. My freedom based on how people in the past have shaped it, not just for me, but for people in general. (ex: comparing freedom today to freedom in the past.)
Because I had trouble coming up with good answers for my prompt, I busily had to write the essay in a hurry. The essay was finished and turned in, but I was not satisfied with it.

After our essays, we engaged in a group discussion, where everyone was supposed to share what they wrote and what they believed freedom meant for them. The discussion soon picked up a fast pace and became very heated. Nearly everyone in the class contributed, either disagreeing, agreeing, or providing a new point. I consider this part of my day the highlight because I was very amazed at all the various answers my classmates were giving. I've never sat in such an engaging classroom in my life. This was something I've never experienced before at Pinole Valley High School. Everyone was very interested in the topic and contributing their own opinions. And although we didn't reach a solution (how could we after all?) and we talked circles, it inspired me to become even more open-minded when it comes to my writing.
After class, the walk back was absolutely horrible. It was raining cats and dogs and our dorms were a whole 15 minutes away. We all had no umbrellas and we didn't wish to waste any time. Needless to say, our "swim" down Central Avenue proved to be a very wet one. I entered Donlon Hall like a dripping mop. Oh, how I just adore Ithaca's weather!

Dinner's almost here! I have more studying and writing for tonight. I can't wait for class tomorrow, esp. for our discussions.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The last day of "relaxation"

Today was the last day before classes begin tomorrow, Monday. While many students sought leisurely activities and a work-free area, I concentrated most of my time on studying as much as I could before class began
I felt better rested today than I have since June 23rd, but I still did not feel that well rested. I woke up at 10:00 AM to find Forrest sitting at his computer, as usual. We still have not connected on a personal level, as he tends to confine himself to his online comics and manga. This was not the first time I invited him to an event, in this case, brunch, and he refused. He said he had all the snacks he needed. I still wasn’t sure if he had ever been to Appel Commons, where we dine. Anyhow, I headed there with our usual group, give or take two from the seven of us. I really liked our routine calls to one another to ask if we were up for food, hanging out, or attending some sort of event. It made me feel good that I had friends that I knew pretty well, not that I didn’t make an effort to make friends.
Throughout today, and at brunch, I made many friends, though I can only recall them being from either New Jersey or Texas, though we had a student from India sit with us to eat. I actually had to leave the group before we finished eating because I was determined to read as much of my Hotel information packet as I could, which was our assignment for today. I had roughly 60 pages of reading to accomplish today, so I tried starting early. I’m actually glad I stayed at the dorm because that’s when Forrest began talking to me.
I was surprised to hear him talk so much; we had a rather long conversation about our interests, hobbies and personal lifestyles – where we came from, essentially. I will not blog about his personal life, but I was very interested to hear that he has Asian, adopted siblings and a half brother. Especially fun was when he asked me about music. I told him I like most music, except rap, and he told me the same – he absolutely hates it. It was very strange hearing that he did not know who Beyonce or Jay-Z are and that he enjoys Japanese death metal. Somehow we started talking about our countries’ different political systems and how commercialism is dominant in the United States. It was such an eye-opener to hear an international student’s perspective. I enjoyed our talk so I yet again invited him to our next event, the “notorious” crash course study session in Statler Hall, which was like 20 minutes away. But he declined again.
The crash course, to over 600 students’ aggravation, lasted approximately 3 hours. I must admit that Janet Snoyer, who works for the office of career services made a lasting impression on us. The purpose of the meeting was to teach us how to “breeze by” these programs we were enrolled in. I give her kudos for making it interesting for the first hour and half or so, as she even showed us a video about sleep deprivation and its effects on students. But it was just preaching to the choir. I thought it was unnecessary; we know we need to get at least 9 hours of sleep, yet we won’t because of these courses. The three hours could be summarized as follows: don’t kill yourself (literally as well), try your best, and learn.
Afterwards, there was the Activities fair where we could sign up for intramurals and such, but I did not attend, as I was reading my material, which actually lasted the entire day. I went to eat dinner but then stayed in the dorm the entire time.
It is 1:00 AM now and I’m in my room, where Forrest is sleeping and this light from the laptop screen is the only light I have, and as such, I will end on this note and I really wanted to post pictures and a video or two, but I will do that tomorrow. Class starts tomorrow!