Friday, May 16, 2014

A Heartfelt Evening

I am excited to say that today has been a very eye-opening evening. It so happens that today began pretty hectic, as I woke up from a not-so-good-night's sleep, to take my AP World History Exam. Spending half the time at school taking this exam had my brain fried by lunch-time and, even more agonizing, was knowing that my day was not over just yet. It so happens that this evening, both Brown cohorts were given the opportunity to enjoy a fancy dinner at One Market in San Francisco. Now this, I was both thrilled and anxious about. Here, we were gathered for the purpose of engaging with this year’s benefactors of the Ivy League Connection as well as Brown alumni.

After making up work from missing class (due to the exam), I rushed home to get ready for this evening’s next milestone event! Both Brown cohorts arrived at the El Cerrito Plaza BART Station at approximately at 5:20 p.m., ready to take on today’s event. After being given a quick overview on how to get to One Market, the entire group and I headed through to await our BART train. With such a huge group, it was rather difficult to stay together, though we fortunately managed to make it not only safely and united, but early to San Francisco. Along the way I was fortunate to meet Magaly Rodriguez, who will be participating in the Women & Leadership course. We introduced ourselves to each other and learned about our personal experiences in making it into the Ivy League Connection. After conversing and getting to know each other, the BART train reached our destination. Alas, we had all arrived and made our way up the escalators; we were introduced into the beautiful city of San Francisco! My first look after coming out of the BART station had me straight in awe. It was the first time I had actually been upon the actual streets of San Francisco, so it was truly amazing arriving to the scene of tall, beautiful buildings, trees lining the sidewalk, and a vast open space meant to be explored! Being introduced to a beautiful first site, let alone visiting SF for the first time was remarkable. With "an open mind and empty stomach" (foodies, you know what I mean), I made my way to One Market, of course, alongside the Brown cohorts.

One Market in San Francisco
My first look at One Market was the sign, which was something I just had to get a picture of. Following that, everyone and I made our way into the actual restaurant. One of the first things I noticed about the restaurant itself, was the outstanding setting. As I proceeded to our dining room, I noticed the upscale interior setup. It had a delighting sense of zen with the hints of green from the plants and the wood that made up the setting itself, which made it exceptional. After making our way down the hall and into our room, we immediately scattered to form groups where we awaited alumni and guests. I personally formed a group with Jack and shortly after introduced ourselves to Beilul, a sophomore at Brown, then soon formed a group with Elizabeth Gonzalez, a Brown alumna (Class of 2012), as well as Jennifer Dao, an alumna from Cal (I apologetically do not recall her year of graduation). 

I was able to learn from Beilul that being on the opposite coast of the U.S. was not all that terrible, considering the busy time-consuming schedule that she, personally, had her first year. Furthermore, I was amazed to learn that Elizabeth majored both in Sociology as well as Brazilian and Portuguese Studies, and was further impressed that she will actually be pursuing her Master’s Degree at Smith College, where she is headed tomorrow (technically today...). On the other hand, Jennifer impressed us by letting us know that she is a prominent school board member’s assistant! After introducing ourselves to each other, it was nice knowing Jennifer could see me as a nurse (which seems reasonable since I want to work in the healthcare field). In addition, it was great trying bite sizes of mini shrimp tacos, chipotle glazed chicken, and risotto balls with an aioli dip. After trying the mini appetizers and meeting a few talented individuals, it was time to begin the dinner.

 Ms. Kronenberg commenced the dinner with an introduction of the benefactors, alumni, chaperones, and all (Brown University) ILC ambassadors from this year. To kick off the dinner, Ms. Kronenberg briefly overviewed the agenda. Next up, an ILC ambassador from both cohorts was chosen to give a few words on what we hope to gain from our prospective experiences at our Pre-College Summer courses. In the case of today’s dinner, YeonSoo Cho, who is from Brown-II’s Women & Leadership course, and I were the lucky ambassadors to take on this speaking role of the evening. I began the presentation by expressing my thanks to all of the attendees for being with us and mentioned some of my aspirations I hope to accomplish from this experience, including personal growth, shining positive light on our district and schools, encouraging others to not be afraid of new opportunities, and learning about educational opportunities outside of California. Though nervous, I am sure that I represented my cohort well, as did YeonSoo, who did an exceptional job at speaking on what she and her cohort hope to accomplish while over in the East Coast. Moving along, we had both a Brown alumnus as well as an ILC contributor, who was fundamental in creating the ILC, speak. 

To bring things into perspective came Mr. Charles Ramsey, who had quite the speech. His words were very eye-opening and led me to see this opportunity and our district slightly differently. I can recall quite a few things he mentioned, though I’m sure the objective of his words were received whole-heartedly by everyone. Among of these things were being proud to be from the city from where you are from and also taking this opportunity and running with it. He made it clear that this was a life-changing opportunity, and reiterated how it was at no cost to us. With that said, he told us how we had to not focus on ourselves, but on helping others. He clarified how this opportunity, which is meant to help us, must be used to help others. He also mentioned how doing great things does not come easy, that these things will “not be comfortable,” which by the way, is very true. Because of the insightfullness we obtained from Mr. Ramsey, I was personally even more gratified with having the honor and privilege of being a part of this year’s Ivy League Connection and became even more enthusiastic about taking on this new experience.
Presenting to the attendees on behalf of the entire '14 Brown-I cohort.
My entree
After a well spoken presentation, the time to eat and socialize amongst our group had come. At my table, I had my mother, Jing and her mother, Thao and her mother, Hunter Stern (Brown alumnus, Class of '84), Donna Chung (Brown alumna, Class of '12), and Simon Hong (Brown alumnus, Class of '05). We were all served our entrĂ©e of choice, which a vegetarian option (which unfortunately I do not know certainly of), halibut on mashed carrots, or beef on polenta, or mashed potatoes, and a richly flavored sauce. I was personally thrilled to try the beef. It was excepetional as it was extremely tender and soft, and was served with creamy polenta, or mashed potatoes (which I couldn’t tell the difference between. Aside from the food, it was quite interesting how Donna presented her extremely strong opinion about Teach For America, which was our first topic. Seeing her perspective, especially because she is a first year teacher at an elementary school, was interesting. It was interesting to see how she strongly believed a traditional credentials program is more just and more worthwhile as opposed to getting in and out (mostly to experiment whether teaching is one’s thing or not). Though the conversational grew controversial, we were able to settle into an interesting concept, presented by Hunter Stern (an International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers worker), of how electricity is extremely vital in the field of environmental sciences. Following along, we also spoke on aspects of college life, school, and sports too. 

The Strawberry Tart dessert
With such a long evening, and a very full stomach, it was then time to head back home. However, the benefactors, alumni, and ILCers gathered to take a group shot just before doing so. It was honestly a great experience and now has me looking forward to the trip even more! 

My experience heading back home was pretty special, however. Along the BART ride back to the El Cerrito Plaza Station, I encountered a woman, who I found out was jobless. This particular circumstance really had me thinking about what I had learned today about helping others. Quite frankly, I was nervous, but stepped up and decided to converse a bit with her, and learned a bit more about her. I was particularly touched because of the fact that she demonstrated her willingness to find a job as we spoke, was very sweet, and seemingly very deserving of a job, yet was difficult for her to receive help. I was able to provide her a few suggestions, though they were not necessarily anything new. Personally though, I think she needed some hope, because from the looks of it, she was worn out and seemed to feel hopeless. Because we had arrived at our BART stop and the doors which were ready to close, I was unable to further communicate with the woman. Unfortunately, because of this I was not able to be of significant help for her, but just speaking with her really got me to think that we should all try to be a bit more interactive others, and should especially try to help out, even in the simplest of ways. I’m sure that any kind of help could bring hope to anyone who feels as though they’ve lost it. Either way, in the end, what matters is that we have put ourselves at the service of others for the sake of being able to sustain ourselves, and that is the evening’s most heartfelt experience and most important thing I’ve learned today.
Both Brown-I (left half with brown flag) and Brown-II (right half with red flag) cohorts along with alumni.


  1. Another outstanding blog. It made me feel as though I was there, too.

    I’m curious how it was with so many young people at your table--along with an electrician and a finance guy--that you got onto discussing TFA. I would have loved to have been at your table for that conversation.

  2. Arnold,

    I really enjoyed your speech at the dinner, and how you reminded us of the great things happening in our communities and school district, even if we aren't always portrayed in a positive light by others.

    The woman you were referring to on BART seemed like a kind soul, and I am glad you were able to speak with her, even for a short while. Sometimes the people most different from us teach us the most.