Thursday, June 24, 2010

Chicago Blues

Today was the long awaited day for all the members of the Cornell Group to depart from the familiar to journey to the unfamiliar. As I woke up today, I had an unusual sense of power or task before me that sort of resonated through my body. For the entire year, the Cornell Freedom & Justice team involving Alex Elms, Andrew Gonzales, Dyana So, and myself have been preparing ourselves to meet the intellectual challenges that will test us these coming three weeks. Unlike classes at school, Freedom & Justice requires not blurting bits of knowledge nor simply agreeing with a philosopher that can date back hundreds of years. It calls for understanding what that philosopher is trying to say, its implications on its subject, and whether we agree with it or not. Like Forensics Speech and Debate, I realized that these philosophers are gripping controversies and trying to take a position on these issues that still persist to this day. These next four weeks will be thrilling to venture to Cornell and feel the nerves of not knowing; ultimately solving our fears by commitment to learning. I have great confidence in our group to reach our potential and exceed it. At the same time, I’m looking forward to all the experiences outside of learning such as the different foods and interactions with other people even the airport.

After saying goodbye to my parents, I felt a temporary loss at heart but was instantly comforted by the family warmth within the ILC. Everyone is so united by the ILC and our common tasks that it makes like a cohesive family. We loaded our entire luggage onto the shuttle and went to San Francisco International Airport where all of us flawlessly checked in our bags and boarded the flight after a hearty breakfast at the compliments of Mr.Ramsey. We strolled to our gate and eventually walked down the aisles to our seats. When we took off, I cracked out my novel, The Road, and for the first time enjoyed a peaceful session of reading. The occasional airplane turbulence and drops in altitude was a pleasure as it added to the suspense of the novel.

To our original delight, the flight attendants said we had arrived earlier than expected to O’Hare Airport in Chicago, Illinois. Things looked like everything will go even better than expected and we will be eventually enjoying our experience in Syracuse in no time. But due to the unforeseen forces of nature, our flight to Syracuse was delayed by a strong storm that involved heavy rain and thunder. The delays went from one hour to eventually exceed three hours. Despite the disappointment, Mr. Ramsey brightened things up by treating us to a dinner at an Italian restaurant where we enjoyed Italian entrees and we were able to relax from all the other people in the airport walking around in manic. All my hunger had disappeared with the swish of some cool water.

What proved to be a big test for all of us was exercising the old virtue of “patience.” It is indeed frustrating for many people to wait hours and hours. I see fellow travelers all around me leaning their heads to receive the comfort of their lobby chair; waiting what seems an endless ultimatum for departure. But Mr.Ramsey proved a good point, and that is that people have to be versatile and adjust to their situation. Essentially the art of compromise, we should not ponder but move on and do with what we have to make the best out of things. All of us took out our laptops and began productively working on our blogs to make the best of the situation. I’m confident that this experience of waiting in an airport for hours and to this very moment in which I’m typing this blog is enlightening and memorable.

As part of an update of our second day of our trip, unfortunately our flight was cancelled so we were forced to take brief shelter in the bland confines of the airport. The time passes into the early morning of Thursday, in which I myself become extremely lethargic. I used my two thick philosophy books, a piece of cushion from my backpack, and my extra pair of shorts as a makeshift pillow to sleep on the gate seats. I laid myself and closed my eyes underneath my shirt to restore my energy. This was definitely the first time I ever had to sleep at an airport, after hearing about all those incidents of people having to stay in airports due to insanely long delays. The departure for Syracuse would have to wait longer. But as I slept, Mr. Ramsey persisted on making this trip happen and avoid being stuck in Chicago any longer. His determination to getting to Syracuse ended us having gotten tickets to fly to Hartford, Connecticut at 4:00 PM. Thanks to him, we are well on track to Syracuse and will continue having a successful trip.

Prior to leaving to Hartford, we had endured the long hours by playing card games, enjoying a well-waited celebration to hear we will be going to Hartford, and sticking together as a pack. We eventually booked rooms at the Hilton Hotel located near the airport, in which we all ate at a breakfast buffet and appeased our hunger.

At 4:00 PM, I was glad to finally enter the terminal with a boarding pass to Hartford after enduring a “24” hour crisis; escaping Chicago to finally reach the east. After all those hours of waiting, we had the chance not only to visit New York as part of the Cornell experience but also briefly stop by states such as Connecticut and Massachusetts. I indulged in the same literature during our short flight and afterward we immediately rented two vehicles to complete our drive to Syracuse. Simply touching foot on Connecticut soil was great and embodied the sense of “freedom” we lacked at Chicago’s O’Hare.

After completing nearly 150 miles of our journey, we stopped by to eat dinner at not a super fancy restaurant but one fast food joint called “Roy Roger’s,” which surprised us by how filling and good it tasted. It was like a culmination of KFC and Burger King all in one, especially since I am a fast food fanatic. While eating tendercrisps at a fast food joint known as Roy Roger’s in the state of New York, I reminisced on how unique the ILC journey has already been and no matter how initially things did not go as planned, we ended up reaching our final destination to experience the program.

I am currently in a comfortable bedroom, rooming with the man Alex Elms both doing final touches on our blogs. We are already kicking back and letting our minds relax and restore the energy from all the action of moving from terminal to terminal. I hope our future days to come will be exciting and energetic.


  1. Andrew,

    Sounds like you all had a wonderful adventure.

    Perhaps it's a sign of the times but these days you need to be prepared for just about any eventuality. Knowing that you can have dead time while traveling, it's handy to have reading material with you or your laptop where you can work on any of the unfinished projects we all seem to have. The fact that you all understood that this was an unscheduled opportunity to start on your blogging is just a 2fer--and at no extra cost to you all.

    Another lesson to be learned is finding that all so secret way to get some rest or sleep in a place that was never designed as such.

    Well done, Andrew.

  2. Hi Andrew,
    It's great to read about your detailed adventure while connecting to east coast. No matter how well you have been prepared, there was a room for new challege from Nature.
    Man vs. wild. Talking about the challege. T tried to post the comment on your blog using the computer in living room. Many failed attempts. Again Cookies. Now I am on right track. All Cornellians looks sharp. Good luck and enjoy learning! joy.