Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Confessions of a Chaperone

Forty-nine pounds.  Rhode Island accents.  Duplicate receipts.  Resilient King crab legs.  Exhaustion amidst joy.   

The past two days have been tiring, yet rejuvenating in my role as the privileged chaperone of this remarkable Brown Session One cohort.  While I could spend hours writing about the first long day of travel and how I almost left my 49-pound roller suitcase in front of the airport as I waved the students into the entrance with my carry-on over my shoulder or how after an unintentionally sleepless night I finally fell asleep on the plane, leaving Jing with only the company of her novel, I am not going to dwell on the less-than important moments.  What is important to me is that we all made it here to Rhode Island, we all had a (comfortable) bed to sleep in at the Biltmore Providence, and we even had a nice dinner at McCormick and Schmick’s, where Arnold, Brandon, Jack, Jing, and Kevin could relax over some delicious seafood, and where Chris, our outgoing waiter, gave us a kind welcome to Providence.
First night's dinner at McCormick & Schmick's

This morning, we woke early to ride Amtrak into New Haven for our Yale site visit. While I have always disliked the thought of human beings glued to their Smart phones, I actually found myself intently e-mailing and checking last minute details on my portable I-Phone device before our arrival in New Haven.  I finally looked up a few times to see the gorgeous views of shipyards and New England-style homes.  We ate breakfast at an off-campus café called Wall Street Pizza, and I was able to talk to the cashier and hostess, Rose, about our New England visit.  It is clear that this place has its regulars, and they know Rose for her warmth and kindness.   

After breakfast was the informational session at Yale.  We were privileged to meet with the California Director of Admissions, Dara Norwood, prior to the informational session for some private Q&A.  I asked the students to practice their questions for her over breakfast, and they did so well when it came to time to speak with her.  I found Dara to be so friendly and patient with all the questions of not only our group, but with those questions of the other attendees, as well.  We learned that Yale has a unique residential hall system, where students live with the same group until they graduate, thus increasing community and retention rates.  I love that Yale is looking for collaborative, “nice” candidates over competitive-minded ones.  Our campus tour was delightful.  We visited one of the campus libraries, famed for its unique modern architecture and collection of archives.  I told the students that when I entered, I felt like Belle when the Beast shows her the gift of his biblioteque in the Disney version.
Our cohort at the Yale informational session

The awe-inspiring Yale library
Lunch was wonderful, as we met with Austin Long, Pinole Valley High School grad and current Yalie, and his current classmates James Ting and Xuan-Truc Nguyen.  They walked us to Union League Café, but not before giving us a rapid tour of the British Art Museum nearby.  I so appreciated their willingness to show us around.  I can see why Austin is such a beloved ILC alum.  He is kind, helpful, and charismatic. Our meals were nothing less than amazing.  I chose the Omelette Homardine – Union League Café is a French restaurant – and I loved every bite of my lobster egg dish.  
Riding the complimentary Yale shuttle to Amtrak, thanks to the advice of Austin, Xuan, and James.  Say hi to the bulldog!

Kevin and Jing in the tunnel on our way to Track 2 at the train station.
With thoughts of delicious New England seafood looming in my head, I will make a brief exit so that I can rest up for Dartmouth tomorrow.  I cannot believe how much has happened and how much more there is to see. 

Bon soir et a bientot!

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