Today was the day I've been awaiting for awhile. A free dinner is not something to take lightly, especially when it's at a restaurant like One Market. Being the odd "restauranteur" that I am, I found it quite exciting that we would be eating at such a grand eatery. Of course this was provided that Don didn't kill us all before we got there.
I decided that showing up early has paid off so far so why shouldn't I try and be early every time? I arrived at the El Cerrito Plaza Bart Station at 5 o'clock; 20 minutes before I was due to be late. When I walked up to Don I was surprised that I was one of the first people there. I thought that many of the other members would have thought to show up early like me but only 3 other members had arrived. As the minutes ticked by we made awkward small talk with Don being the main conductor. I know that Don had told us to go out and introduce ourselves to everyone but being the shy guy that I am that plan kinda failed. Anyways, once the clock hit 5:20 there were only 2 members out of the 14 that had yet to arrive. Unfortunately, one of those people was Arnold, our speaker for the night. Fortunately though, when he and the other missing cohort showed up at 5:24 Don decided not to kill them right on the spot even though 4 minutes before that he had made a joke about taking away there scholarships (I hope it was a joke....).
After we got on the train I sat next to a charming member of the Women & Leadership program, with whom I had an amazing discussion about school, sports, the ILC program, and life in general. I have to apologize in advance to all the people I did meet today as I am terrible with names. Although I may not be able to show it I do remember all of you and everyone whom I had the fortune of meeting today was great and I would like to extend a thank you to all of you. Once we got off of Bart we finally entered One Market and we're led to the very back of the restaurant where we entered a decently sized room holding 6 round tables with 6-8 people at each table. Before we sat down though we were sent off to mingle with all the different people amassed in this room.
The first person I had the pleasure of meeting at dinner was another Brown-II cohort going to the Women & Leadership program by the name of Magalie Rodriguez. A High School student she looked to be very mature and at least five years older than what age she actually was, which was 15 or 16. She was very interesting as she had yet to go anywhere out of California so this program was a really new experience to her. The next person I talked to was actually a student who was still attending Brown as a sophomore. Like I said before I apologize to all of those whose names I've forgotten but I do remember you all and it was great meeting each and every one of you. She was majoring in Public Policy if I'm not mistaken and had been part of the ILC program twice when she was in high school. The next few people I met were Jennifer Dao and Elizabeth Gonzalez. Jennifer was the older sister of a girl who had just graduated from ECHS last year and had come to the dinner as the assistant of a highly esteemed School Board member who I have apologetically forgotten the name of. It's on the tip of my tongue.... oh well I'm sure I'll be hitting myself for this later, but I digress.
Elizabeth Gonzalez was actually an alumnus of Brown, Class of 2012. She had majored in Sociology and Brazilian and Portuguese Studies which I find very interesting. Today was actually her last day of work as she's leaving in a few days to pursue her Master's degree at Smith College in Massachusetts. Good luck! After sitting down I realized that I had my dad on my right side and another Brown alumnus on my left. She was the Class of '86 and actually played a large role in the community as the leader of the Mock Trial program that ECHS, JFK HS, HHS, and PVHS offer. Our talk started slowly, as we were introduced almost at the exact moment that the speeches started, but it ended strong.
Ms. Madeline Kronenberg was the first to speak and gave a very good welcoming speech that really made everyone feel home and calm everyone nerves. Next up was Brown-I's very own Arnold Dimas, who, despite his constant saying that he was nervous, did an amazing job. After that was a girl from the Brown-II cohort by the name of Yeonsoo (I can't remember the last name...). Despite having a "soft voice," as she would describe it, I feel that everyone could easily hear her and relate to what she was saying. Next up was a Brown alumnus, Class of '84, and a man who had been there since the inception of the ILC program with Mr. Charles Ramsey. He spoke about the program itself and how much it had accomplished over the years, with a few funny jokes about Mr. Ramsey and himself added in. And for the grand finale Mr. Ramsey himself gave us a very moving speech about the program and about what it did for us and about how we, in turn, should then give that kind of opportunity to other people with everything that we take away from the program.
By the end of all the speaking everyone had already finished the first course salad and most people were working their way through either the short ribs or the halibut. I personally chose the short ribs, which turned out to be very similar to the ones that my mom loves to make. It was served on top of a bed of cooked spinach and surrounded by a thin layer of cheese grits, which I was very impressed with. Finally add that tiny drizzle of some kind of soy-based sauce and voila! You have a bunch of happy ILCers. As one can imagine there wasn't much talking through this constant munching on delicious food and it only got better once they brought out dessert. A simple strawberry shortcake with vanilla ice cream and hardened caramel helped to end the night on a sweet note.
After dessert we were told to group up and head out. We got on a Pittsburgh train, transferred at 19th Street, and were back at El Cerrito Plaza Bart before I could even begin to finish my conversation I had sparked up with a PVHS sophomore, Jessica Kaur, who was also a part of the Women & Leadership course this summer. A short car ride home and here I am finishing up my blog post for the night. Would love to continue but a guy's gotta get his beauty sleep y'know!
Jusqu'a la prochaine fois...