Sunday, July 18, 2010

It's Not the End; it's the Start

Day ???/ The Turning of a New Leaf

I'm only just starting to get used to this gray keyboard that I've used in my room for who knows how long. I know it's only been about three weeks, but like all my other ILC peers, it just doesn't feel like it; Actually, it felt like we've been gone for at least a month. As I sit down at this familiar desk and stare at my room's familiar tan walls, I wonder, was I really just at Cornell University? Was this rising Junior of Pinole Valley High School just at one of the greatest ivy league colleges in America, studying among 67 other intelligent students all over the world? I am proud to say that yes, she was.

The trip back home went accordingly. Coming back from Cornell was definitely not as "spontaneous" as going there, which was a good thing because a.) we were too tired anyways, and b.) our families were ready to take us back. On the 3 hour or so flight back, Jacky, Beilul, and I were luckily seated together in the row of three seats on the right side of the plane. I thought this was especially nice way to end the trip, since Jacky and Beilul were the other girls from our trip and in addition to that, this was probably the last time I was too see them so frequently. They will be returning to Hercules High and I to Pinole High.

It was such a strange but wonderful feeling to return back home. My feet were once again walking across the nice carpeted floors and the smell of my mother's cooking filled each room on the upstairs floor. However, as great as it was to be back at home again, it was very short lived. As soon as I entered my room, the lights were turned off and I was knocked out on the bed.

My cousin and aunt were staying at our house in Hong Kong so my entire day today was spent outside of home. The weather was a nice break from muggy, hot Ithaca; it was warm but there was also a nice, crisp breeze that I had forgotten about. Driving along the road here is different as well. My surroundings wereno longer green, but yellow. As I sat in the family car- no longer in the shotgun seat with Jacky's ipod blaring her wonderful playlist into our ears and us, singing at the top of our lungs, I started to think about the past couple of weeks that I've been at Cornell. It had been a life-changing and illuminating journey, and while most of you may find it an end, I think it is only my beginning...

Cornell Summer College Class of 2010; a Reflection by Wing So

I could still remember eight months ago, when I was just starting off as a sophomore. The most I had done in terms of planning for my future was probably going to the Pinole Valley College Fair the summer before and occasionally day dreaming about what I wanted to be when I grew up. It was on that one fateful day when the school library had excused me and some of my classmates for an unnamed presentation, that my journey as an official ILC Ambassador began.

Writing the first essay was not that bad, but it was also one of many obstacles I had to pass through to reach the final destination. From there, came interviews to more essays to applying for Cornell Summer College itself. And while waiting for Cornell's letter of approval was quite exciting, there wasn't much time to be very anxious since my peers and I were underway with our plans for our three weeks at the East Coast.

Preparing for Cornell University was a rough climb, considering that it had to go side by side with my work in high school. In addition to wondering what the university would be like, there were, I admit, also times when I wondered if I was really ready. This attitude, of course, finally went away as the penultimate month of the eight month wait came around the corner. After the formal Cornell ILC dinner and the end of sophomore year, I could feel myself getting extremely enthusiastic about Cornell. I was nervous about class but at large, I was ready for the challenge.

In this journey, I was able to learn so much. In addition to being a pupil of Professor Kramnick, I found myself being a pupil to my fellow ILC peers, my new friends and classmates, and the entire experience in general. There is nothing like learning through experience, and I'm very happy that I got to learn everything through all of my five senses. I definitely feel a lot smarter and more mature than before. I feel like my world's enlarged and that culture enriched. I do not feel like the same person I used to be before I left for Cornell; I feel like a whole other person and I like what I'm seeing.

From my course at Cornell, "Freedom and Justice", I was able to learn so much about political philosophy both in its historical and universal aspects. I took this course, not because my future career path had something to do with law (currently I'm undecided), but because a.) I enjoy learning new things, b.) my school does not have a class with material like this, and c.) I just love a good challenge. And in addition to the great information I've learned and implanted within my books and notebooks, I have also taken away with me the invaluable lessons I've learned by simply being in the classes everyday.

For the first time I was able to experience what I would think was, the-closest-thing to an actual college class. I was competing in a class in of strangers that all had the drive to work hard and succeed; they were fearless when it came to participation and understandable when it came to studying long hours with. Professor Kramnick was a great teacher and never failed to deliver, day by day, informative and helpful lectures. He introduced to us the importance of reading and taking notes when it came to college. He told us that while you may have a class, a teacher assistant, and even the professor him/herself sometime later in your college years, the real learning takes place outside of class when you're on your own. You will make the most of your education, the teacher assistants and classes are there to help you along the way. Therefore, one should never stop reading and always take as many notes as possible. In addition to Professor Kramnick's great advice, I also learned a lot from having a TA. I learned the importance of getting help when you have any doubts of misunderstanding anything. Don't ever be afraid of the sophistication or importance of your questions; the TAs are there to help you out, that's why they're there. It's a good and wise idea to take advantage of every opportunity that is given to you. It was this very idea that got me involved with the ILC in the first place: the saw an opportunity and I grabbed it.

Being on campus and around such a diverse group of student taught me more than you will ever imagine. The experience I got from walking around Cornell and having dinners with tables of diverse cultures is something I can guarantee would not be found in any books. There is something about brushing your fingers across the walls of brick buildings to the chairs at an old Cornell bowling alley that makes you feel intertwined with the past and present of the campus. And there is definitely something incredibly magical about learning some Arabic phrases from your Qatar friends to meeting a fellow marching band member from Austin, Texas. Everyone was unique in the eyes of everyone else. There was no such thing as a boring person at Cornell. In fact, there was never really a boring minute within Cornell; there was always something planned and taking place.

In addition to all the things I've learned at Cornell, there were also so many things I learned outside of Cornell. The East Coast was a whole other experience of being an American. Everything in countryside was green, every house along the roads had a "yard sale" sign or something of the sort. I do not see "Carl's Junior" but I do see "Dunkin' Donuts". I do not feel the breeze from the Bay Area, but the blanket of East Coast humidity. The natural community here is different from the one back at the east. Back home, I'm used to dry, sunny California, but at Ithaca, I was completely taken by surprise by the thunderstorms and rain from time to time. I enjoyed the East Coast very much; it has further convinced me of applying to school here someday.

And to end my reflection, I'd like to tell you about the important personal lessons I learned about character. The first is courage. After Cornell, I feel that I have become more fearless. However, that's not to say I''m also more reckless and foolish, enough to jump into anything without much thought. I have gained a lot of bravery but I do not jump to conclusions. With this new-found courage, I was able to participate in various Cornell events, meet lots of new and friendly people, and take part in class discussions on a regular basis. The other important characteristic I've appreciated more from being at Cornell is: self worth. Never compare yourself to others. You must always strive for your best and not the for that of anyone else. You must always believe in yourself. And if you ever fall backwards, no matter how hard you were knocked to the ground, the important thing is knowing to get back up and to do it as quickly as you possibly can.

Cornell has taught me countless and countless of things. I cannot define my experience in a novel of any length. I cannot bottle it up and keep it forever. But what I can keep is all the great memories I've made in the past couple of weeks. Those memories will be hard to forget, if it is even possible.

Thank you so much to everyone of the ILC program who has helped me get to this point of my life. You have no idea how much I appreciated being there. Thank you for adding such a fantastic chapter to the large book of my life. I look very forward to starting my new chapters which will come after the previous chapter pages you have given me. The ILC is a wonderful program and while I do not know just how everyone from the program feels deep down, know that you have inspired and made better the life of one of your many ambassadors. Her life has changed and she's ready to embark on another journey to college. THANK YOU!


  1. Wing
    What a pleasure it has been to watch you as your fearless self. Thanks so much for sharing your spirit with all of us. You will always bring joy, enthusiasm, and intelligence to any group. May all of your your dreams take wing (irresistible to pun)-
    Ms. K

  2. Hi Dyana, you have a great capacity for intellect and definitely outshined all of us during our TA sessions with your input. I'm sure you will do great and I hope to see you soon.