Sunday, July 18, 2010

Turning Point

The Cornell University Summer College has come to a heartfelt ending with our graduation of the Freedom and Justice and Hotel and Management students. I will admit that these three weeks went by extremely fast but was most enlightening and an experience I will forever cherish as my longest stay on the East Coast. It taught me a lot about being independent and how to approach a college-level course. Being a rising-senior, coming to the Freedom and Justice has let me sample the type of vigor but at the same rewarding education you can get at such a prestigious institution as Cornell. What I loved most was being able to work with my friends and devote ourselves to intellectually sharpening our mind for greater understanding of the material. I felt accomplished in the end, skimming through pages of my notebook, which are full of notes from Kramnick’s lecture, our TA sessions, and my own thoughts. This culmination of thought makes me feel that this philosophy course has taught me to become more open-minded in trying to interpret the ideas of others and come to a consensus. I believe being able to find similarities and differences in thought is the key to many intellectual professions in real life.

Unlike high school, the Cornell program requires more from the student. There is no room to slack off or known as the common pandemic, procrastination, in order to keep with the pace of Freedom and Justice. Fortunately I maintained a work ethic that does allow for flexibility but sufficient appropriation of time to look over the material. A theme of this course aside from dedication to studying is time management. I have to set my alarm clock to wake up early in the morning to catch breakfast, and then arrange with the others meet up so we can all meet up to go to Mallot Hall, where Professor Kramnick would lecture us on the teachings dating back centuries. Regardless of the situation, I have to manage my time wisely or end up messing up my entire day and much needed sleep.

The thing about the East Coast experience is that we also had many opportunities to explore other colleges and places around Ithaca. It gave us a feel of a bigger world that I surely wanted to see outside of my hometown of Pinole. Our chaperone Ms.Kaplan did an outstanding job of getting us visit to diverse attractions such as the Erie Canal to celebrate Fourth of July (which was outstanding and literally heart-pounding as the fireworks shredded the silent skies), Museum of Earth, and Cayuga Lake where we canoed on a beautiful day. She brought this adventurous spirit that I admire and hope to model after when I grow up. I would love to go around different places; experiencing the parts of a community that may have its similarities and differences to our own. With Ms.Kaplan, the Cornell students are all appreciative of what she has done for us and I would like to personally thank her for making my time in Ithaca a pleasurable one.

What stands out to me as well is the human connections come with a college experience such as this. People such as one of our RCAs, Andrew Broenen from Wisconsin, was one of the coolest college students that I ever met which exemplifies the point of human basis. Another would be my roommate Greg from New Jersey, who left me a simple but touching text message on my cell phone as I was absent due to graduation. He left a message on my cell phone saying that he was going to miss me and that I was a great friend of his. Even though I never had the chance to say goodbye, I knew that this would not be that last time I would see of him. I also made two close friends, one from Texas and another from New York. Both of them make me feel happy to know them for they are such good, loving people that I really love them for being so amiable. I believe they deserve to be acknowledged because they were special people outside of own group to me during the course. Jordan Ng, a fine student from Austin, Texas, was the person I played with most of the time with our Frisbee on the great lawn in front of Appel Commons where we went for meals. He was sort of like a younger brother who was well taller than me; sharing the same desire to get out and socializing. He was involved in marching band like myself, where we would talk about our respective bands and listen to music. Lastly, Alison Wong, an art student from New York, who was probably one of the most unique individuals I met at Cornell. She is a kind person who does not shy away from a good game of cards and enjoys watching all types of movies. Among everything, she is a loving, humorous individual who has taught me to become more like her and be considerate of others. In a world that commonly finds itself in trouble, it is always good to meet people who care about others and I can relate to. I know that college will expose me to more people like them and create human connections that come with the ILC.

Before I conclude with my message of thanks to our benefactors, I would like to touch on what distinguishes ILC students from the rest. What makes ILC students special compared to most students who come here is that we all have something to prove. Unlike most kids who come from private schools, I myself and other represent a group of students with the same ambition if not greater than any of the students around this world. We came here to prove that we can succeed, and I without a doubt believed every single one of us stick to that resolution with great determination. We showed not only our peer students that we are capable of learning, but also that we can transcend the expectations of others and create a persona of intellect that deserves great respect. One of the things I pride with other people whom I acknowledge is respect. I would like to say that I have the utmost greatest respect for every single individual in the Cornell Program. These students include Alex Elms, Jacky Lares, Dyana So, Beilul Naizghi, Chris Habash, and Andrew Gonzales. When we come back home, in which I am currently on an United Airlines Boeing 757 heading back to San Francisco, I hope that I can be given the chance to begin telling others to strive for their greater expectations and broaden their horizon. This action that we ILC students take define the program itself, which is the idea of taking the initiative and exercising our abilities in whatever area we desire.

As a conclusion to this year in the ILC, I would like to thank everyone who made the ILC experience for so many high school students like myself possible. I would like to thank Mr.Ramsey, Don, and Ms.Kronenberg for instructing us throughout the entire year of 2010 on the program and on becoming responsible, future college students. They have given us the opportunity to reach our goals and I want to thank them for all they have devoted to helping the young generation in their community. I am also grateful of our sponsors who provided the financial means for the trip, and I assure them that their investment has changed lives and potentially many others. With the person who spent the three weeks enduring a cold to give us a great experience, I would like to commend Ms.Kaplan for doing a job any mother would envy with taking care of our needs no matter what the situation involved. Lastly to end on a more personal level, I would like to thank my mother and father, who always taught me that no matter what in life, do what you love and love others. I promise to my benefactors, parents, and friends that I will keep in mind the human connection, which will lead me to helping others as Mr.Ramsey and others have done for me.

Sincerely, Andrew J. Woo


  1. Andrew,
    Your best blog yet! The ILC truly has given the seven of you the experience of a lifetime - but always remember.....YOU earned your spot among the seven. I can't wait for the "after party" at Ms. Kaplan's to hear everyone's tales of Cornell. Thank you for a wonderful read. Darlene Elms

  2. Andrew-
    You are an astute observer of life and people. It has been such a treat for me to have time with you.I am eager to see what you do next with that wonderfully curious mind. Thanks for letting me get to know you-
    Ms. K

  3. Andrew,
    Great pleasure to read your blogs. I might never have this much opportunity to read your thoughts and writings because you usually listen whatever I want say to you. Thank you being my son and be proud of you. Love you, from mom.

  4. Brother! Over the past about four weeks, I've really gotten the pleasure of knowing you. You are truly one of the brightest individuals I have ever met. Over the summer we have to "hang out" sometimes, and when school starts back, you know what we are doing in the talent show.