As I got up this morning, my heart sank a little bit. New York City was like an untapped reservoir of excitement and entertainment, and I had barely explored its wonders. To get my self out of this pool of depression I think about what lies ahead of me. I say to myself, "I am leaving this concrete jungle to go to an even better place. Instead of looking for flashy lights and name brand shops, I'm going in pursuit of something much less flashy but infinitely more valuable, something no one can take from me, simply an education.
Train seems to be the way to go over here in the east coast, and the ILC goes with whats popular. We hop aboard our amtrak train for the final time to go to New Haven and more importantly, our home for the remainder of our stay here. Luckily I was able to catch a few Z's on the way here. Dr.Luong told us that we should be well rested before we begin the program, and after these 6 hour sleeps a nap was well needed. When my dreams lifted and my eyelids opened, we had arrived at New Haven. Luckily the weather was cooler today than others and we got to our Hotel comfortably (the AC in the taxi helped too.) As we rode through town towards the Omni hotel, Mr.Ramsey pointed out all of the characters in this town that made us all think twice about safety here. I thought of my dad as we passed a park that reminded me of People's Park in Berkeley. His direct, but wise, words echoed throughout my mind, "don't ever hang out there."
We checked into the Omni, went upstairs to settle down and immediately went back out to do a bit of shopping. We all had a bit of a shopping list handy, so the shopping went smoothly. We got the essentials such as food, personal hygiene items, however one of the necessities that we needed for our stay at Yale wasn't there. Fans. Although Yale does provide us with 1 fan, it was highly recommended by several individuals that we purchase another. Hopefully Lori can purchase one tomorrow. On the way there and back we saw some of New Haven up close and personal. It was definitely much different from New York, smaller and not as busy.
After our little shopping excursion, we went back up to our respective rooms, and just prepared ourselves for tonights dinner with current Yalies, and a Yale admissions officer for NorCal at the lovely Union League Cafe. I got suited up for the last dinner I was going to have with the whole gang, Lori, Mr.Ramsey, Ms.Kronenberg. We walked together down Chapel Street, towars the restaurant. We were greeted by the workers on our way up, and then by the guests of the hour. Two current Yale students, Mariya, and Samantha, and our NorCal admissions officer Alex Richardson.
At the beginning of our meal I was seated next to Alex, and Ms.Kronenberg. I was able to get in an engaging conversation with Alex, we talked about things such as the way things worked on Yale, such as living style, a little bit of an overview of the programs, his experiences as an alum and as a student. However not too long into the dinner Tom started talking to him and I did have a bit of an awkward moment. Fortunately for me I still had Ms.Kronenberg to my left and started to talk with her. However the ever-watchful Mr.Ramsey, saw my predicament and made a switch so that I'd be sitting next to Mariya.
*Just a side note, I have nothing against Ms.Kronenberg or Alex Richardson. Ms.Kronenberg and I were getting on a nice topic (that we were never able to truly finish), byt the point of the dinner was to talk to our guests, and I couldn't effectively do that sitting where I was sitting (Tom was getting into a very long and exciting conversation with Alex that I didn't want to interuppt) which was why I was thankful that I got moved.*
Mariya and I immediately got to talking. I spat out the same spiel I've given all of the other current students I've met. How's campus life? Is it fun going there? Can you tell me how the curriculum works? What are the students like? Etc. Like all of the other current students, her answers did not disappoint. I've said this time and time and time again, for every dinner I've attended with the ILC, these conversations we hold with the students are invaluable resources. It's like we get to put on a special pair of glasses, that give the vision of the students we're talking to. It's as if we get to step into their shoes for a little bit and live their lives as students. Yale sounds like a really good place to go to learn, it's curriculum is different than the other schools we've attended in the aspect of its Distribution System. In order to graduate you have to take classes in 6 different categories, but 2 classes in each one. I really liked this combination of a liberal arts, and structured core curriculum. It definitely made Yale appealing.
Like all dinners before, this one too came to a close. We followed the ILC tradition of ordering deserts, followed by closing comments, and then followed by the group photo session. We left with new connections to the Yale community, and our brains bursting with new insight. As we walked out of the restaurant, a wave of emotion washed over me. I remembered what Mr.Ramsey said earlier that day, as we were walking towards the restaurant. He said "well guys, this is the last dinner. I hope you've enjoyed everything, it was a pleasure doing business with you." However as sad as I got from his words that these dinners were over, I couldn't help but disagree with him. It wasn't the end of business between myself and Mr.Ramsey. It was only the beginning. I am going to be a member of the Ivy League Connection for the rest of my life, although there isn't a formal alumni group of this organization I still think of one existing, and that even when I graduate I'll just join the ranks of people like Matt Arciniega, Yohanna Pepa, Peter Chau, Cristina Pelayo, and many, many more.
I end my night with one closing remark. If there's one thing I've learned from this whole experience talking with all of these people from the top universities, is that they ALL share a strong sense of unity and pride of their school. This unity and pride carries on for the rest of their lives as they join the alumni groups of their respective schools. I always hear about how these alumni groups are fantastic pools for resources and is also a great connection device for everyone in the organization to benefit from. I believe that the ILC is very much like these schools in that aspect. All of the ILC alumni are a resource for the current ILC students. Whether it be to ask past participants how their programs were, to actually giving them tours of the schools they go to, they are always there to benefit myself, and the future ILC cohorts to come. Huge thanks go out to Mr.Ramsey, Ms.Kronenberg, and to our sponsors. Without any of these people, this program wouldn't be possible and we would't have this amazing network of connections to work with. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.