It is hard to describe an establishment of true class, not the flashy, garish type, but more of an unobtrusive elegance. This was the atmosphere of Prospects restaurant as our party of 20 Yale alums, ILC staff, parents, sponsors, and Dyana, Matt, and I.
The lilting background music was neither too loud, nor too soft, I don’t remember what it was, but I’m sure it was pleasant. Bubbles of conversation drifted from the main dining area—all polite— contributing to the gentle ambiance. Waiters with interesting, yet finely groomed, facial hair served us hors d'œuvre from polished wood plates as we mingled with our sartorially magnificent group. The appetizers themselves were neatly arranged as well, cut in the most polygonal way a vegetable can possibly be cut, aside dips designed to be complimentary; carried by several waiters weaving in and around us, arriving and departing seamlessly from conversations with only a shadow of a, “freshen your drink sir?” And the food! My God; every single piece of food I ate looked exactly as good as it tasted, and they all looked about as good as this:
Desert course 1 of 3.
For the duration of the night, after some initial schmoozing, I sat between Don Gosney, our behind the scenes ILC coordinator, (no one is exactly sure what his job is, but he seems to get things done.) and Ken Yamaguchi, a Yale alum and president of the Bay Area’s chapter of the Yale alumni association. While Don and I had a long conversation concerning the state of high school history texts and the more unsavory parts of history that they tend to omit or gloss over; such as the dozen or so coups staged by the CIA in Latin America and other countries during the cold war— thank you Texas school board. Ken entertained questions from Austin Long (An ILC alum who will attend Yale in the Fall) and I about life at Yale. These conversations were interspersed with discussions between our table group of nine, as well as speeches by various alums, sponsors, school board members, and my cohort Dyana So.
Between the conversations I had with Don, Ken, and the many other dinner guests; the food, the atmosphere, and the speeches, it was an exceptional night, in the truest sense of the word.
As I think back now, I keep returning to something that Mr. Yamaguchi offhandedly said to Austin, “Ninety percent of the people you meet are going to be exceptional, in one way or another.”
In some ways, I see Ivy League Connection and our sponsor’s investment in the 35 of us as a way of promoting the belief that we have that capacity to be exceptional. In fact, those were more or less the words of Charles Ramsey, the president of our school board, as he described to us why he began this.