Saturday, August 16, 2014

No Longer Hopeless

In my sophomore year, I was called out of class for an orientation about the Ivy League Connection (ILC), which was given by Don Gosney. I was interested in the program, but I turned down this “opportunity of lifetime” that Don was talking about at the time. Since I am not a U.S. citizen, I immediately assumed that I wouldn’t qualify for this program. Then came junior year of high school and I got invited to the ILC orientation again. Even though I made a mistake the first time, I refused to apply again. Constantly being rejected from scholarships, due to my visa, has made me question the opportunities that approached me. Just one week before the deadline for the Women and Leadership Course at Brown University, my friend who went to Brown for the Physics summer program persuaded me to apply. He said that I would never know if I qualified for the program unless I tried.

After applying for the ILC towards the end of 2013, I forgot about it until I received an email congratulating me about getting into the interview. On the day of the interview, I felt nervous because only four girls could get into the ILC. I thought, “What are the chances of me getting against against these confident girls?” But I tried my best, thinking of how hard it was to get to the interview; and to my surprise, I got in.

The months following my interview involved a blog tutorial, application process for Brown University, a city council meeting, and fancy dinners. These events helped me become more responsible, punctual, professional, and many more even before I was in Providence, Rhode Island. Making time for me to blog has helped me with time management and responsibility. Before this program, I used be so shy to even ask for directions or order at a restaurant. But now, I could walk into a store and get a worker’s attention without feeling embarrassed. The Women and Leadership course at Brown has taught me to be more confident in myself and to not worry about what others think about me. I also learned valuable life lessons such as “don’t judge a person based on one thing about that person.” I see the world differently now, in a good way.

The people that I met on this trip have filled me up with so much energy, which I want to spread in my community. I plan on starting and continuing the action plan that I came up with at Brown this summer. My action plan is to fundraise money for the GRIP(Greater Richmond Interfaith Program), which is a program that helps people that are either homeless or at risk of being one. I am determined and motivated to make a difference where I live.

The five days that I spent visiting colleges and eating at fancy restaurants in the East Coast gave me a more understanding about life after high school. I learned what to look for when applying to college, including clubs and dorm life. It’s very different actually experiencing and seeing things than to read about these places online or in a book. There were some things in the East Coast that made me realize how lucky I am to live in the Bay Area. On the other hand, there were moments when I wanted to take a part of Rhode Island back home. Overall, I came back to California knowing more about what I want. I now understand what type of leader I am or what type of setting I prefer.

The Ivy League Connection was my second school. I put the same effort that I put into Middle College High School into the ILC. I want to thank Mr. Ramsey, Mrs.Kronenberg, Don Gosney, and sponsors for being able to give me a chance to see how it is like outside the Bay Area. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

True Colors

Unleashing My True Colors!
How do I begin this? I would like to start from square one, where everything began... The moment when I came to El Cerrito High School, for the interview, was nerve wracking. To tell you the truth, I didn't believe that I had the chance to go to Brown University. It was a 1/8 chance for me to get picked, and I did, so thank goodness. After that moment, I woke up extra early to go to school, knowing that I have a summer that awaits me. You don't know how EXCITED I was, and I'm how grateful I was during the whole trip.  I had to keep reminding myself that the place I am at is reality, because it seemed so surreal. 

Providence Photoshoot
It has been an amazing journey, and I mean AMAZING. The awesome people, places, and experiences are all so irreplaceable that I wish I can go back in time to relive them. I wish I can go back to Brown for this program, the W&L course. It was a fun class full of activities, love, and discussion. I loved the activities and the documentaries the most, because I believe those were the moments in which I made the impacting memories. I hope that the Ivy League Connection can send even more empowering teens to Brown for this special program.

Reserving this Memory
This program has touched my heart, and has changed me. The texts and videos were mind blowing, and I believe the discussions were the icing on top. I really loved the people I met during my time at Brown. I am positive that I miss each and every one of them, to the point where I cried on the last day of school. Everyone has touched my heart, and changed my mind about society,women, and human nature. I wish we all went to the same school, but that's not possible, or is it? I don't know how to explain my trip there, because to me, it's a moment you have to experience yourself. I dream of a day when I can go back to Brown, and say hello to my second home.

To the Greatest Roommate, Yasmin
I need to thank everyone that is a part of the Ivy League Connection. I never thought about other schools outside of California, and now I have broaden my views on it. It's definitely true that I was able to think of a school from the East Coast, and that school in mind is Brown. I know that we had the opportunity to visit other amazing colleges and universities, but the memories at Brown, stay at Brown. There's so much history, in a two week time period, at my second home. I learned to live, learn, and love. To let out all emotions, and to begin again, renewed. This was definitely the highlight of my summer, and I dream to do it all over again. 

To those who will be reading this, the Ivy League Connection has changed my life. Now I know some people may take the word change lightly, but I mean it. I changed. I want to thank those who made this possible for me. Sponsors, panelists, and just anyone that helped me reach this stage of my life, thank you. I thank my supportive friends who helped me practice some questions. I thank my family who were ecstatic to see me go into this program. Thank you to those who were in the Ivy League Connection, because you worked really hard. Spending hours not sleeping, for us. And I like to thank you. Whoever you may be, reading this much is enough for me. You were able to find this one blog from out of nine people, and I'm grateful. I would like to thank the people I met during my time back East. I found amazing, inspiring people while I was there, and I fell so lucky. I feel lucky that I have been able to meet all of you while I was there. No matter how far away we may be, we may find each other in the future one day. 
                My name is Thao Le Hoang. I am a '16. And I am a woman, a phenomenal woman.                                                                                                                              Thank you. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Goodbye for Now

My whole experience with the ILC has been amazing. I have bonded with my cohort and made great connections  with people. The Women and Leadership Course at Brown has brought new light into my life, made me see things in a different way.  The ILC was amazing, they accommodated us very well. The hotels to the dinners were amazing, and I am very great full for the opportunity. Interview day was stressful and leaving for the trip became more stressful but going there was the best thing that happened to me. I would like to thank Dona and everybody. I have come back as a changed person that is ready to help my community.  Thank you all again for either reading my blogs or supporting me through this amazing experience. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Just Where Do I Begin? An Experience of a Lifetime...

Where it all began...The Interview!
If you told me 6 months ago that I'll be attending Brown University in the summer with a scholarship, I'd say that you were out of your mind. But hey, I guess I was wrong. I just don't know where to begin; from the very first meeting that go us here to the weary nights of writing essays and turning them in before the deadline, or even the tutorials that presented us a set of rules to the fancy dinners that didn't cost us a dime. Let's not forget about the endless waves of emails sent to each of us almost at least once a week, with reminders as well as tasks to do. This sounds like loads of work being dumped on a normal high school student but I'll tell you what, it's all worth it in the end. 

I really can't write just how much I thank Mr. Ramsey, Ms. Kronenberg, and Don Gosney for creating a program such as this that really gives students in my district a chance to discover and experience an Ivy League School. All the hard work and dedication that they put in this program really shows just how important the students  in the West Contra Costa Unified School District are to them. I know that most of the schools, especially mine, are that of low income and many people believe that the students won't make it far. But this program helps prove all the doubters wrong, I can tell you that. I also thank all the staff/teachers at school and sponsors of the program for believing in us and assisting us from the beginning. Everything that the ILC has to offer at no cost is one heck of an opportunity given by the district. I just hope that more students take advantage of this opportunity because it can really change your life, like it did with mine. 
From the School Board Meeting

From the moment I attended the first ILC meeting, I knew that I had to apply for the program. I mean, I really had nothing else better to do this summer, so why not? I was warned about the amount of dedication and work that we had to put in order to get in, but this didn't scare me at all. I remember when I got called up for an interview for the Vanderbilt program. Unfortunately, I didn't get accepted and I was a bit overwhelmed with this outcome. But I didn't let this small setback stop me, and because of this rejection, I was able to apply and get accepted to another course: Women and Leadership at Brown University. Before attending the Women and Leadership course, I used to just laugh and joke about the stereotypical comments about women with my friends and just ignore the baffling, sexist commercials that we see on TV. But now this course has opened up a new perspective for me in how women are portrayed and treated in the social media and even in everyday life. I just never knew how much women are oppressed in comparison with men whether it is in sports, jobs, and even in movies. Women in movies are always shown as the weaker link and it always takes a man protagonist to save them. But what if it was the other way around? It would seem so weird and different to see because that's just how the media has taught us and continues to teach us, unless we change it. This is where the leadership part of the class comes in. All the activities that we did as a group really help me improved in my leadership as well as my skills in teamwork and communication. These skills and knowledge that I've gained I hope to bring back to community and to assist in implementing my action plan as well.

After this summer, I was pretty happy that I got rejected from Vanderbilt. I really just can't explain just how much fun I had at Brown. Maybe it was the beautiful campus, or the life-changing course that I took, but it wasn't just that. It was the people. All the wonderful people at Brown that I ended up meeting now has a special place in my heart. It might sound a little dramatic but it's true. It felt so weird at first being in a different environment away from home, as well as meeting a wide variety of students from all over the country and some even international. But after spending time with the people at Brown, all that weird feeling went away and I just felt like I was at home. And because of this I can't thank ILC enough for giving me this opportunity to experience an Ivy League School such as Brown as well as interact with a very diverse group of students in the summer@brown program. One of the greatest things that I got out of this program was the fact that I met so many young, bright, and amazing students in the program that I could possibly meet. 
To our first day at Brown hauling luggages to our dorm
To the endless nights of blogging

Everything that has happened this two weeks at Brown felt so surreal, like as if it was a dream. Now I'm back home writing this blog and remembering all the fun times I had in the East Coast as well as all the things that I've learned that truly made this program a life-changing experience. It's so different now. I was used to waking up in the morning and seeing my roommate, Ofir still asleep on the other side of the room, trying not to wake her up as I prepare for my day. I was used to saying good morning to everyone that I saw in the hallways and bathroom even if my face and hair was a mess. I was used to walking with my group to the Vdub or Ratty for breakfast, then making our way to CIT 219 and see the beautiful face of Dean Almandrez greet us. I was just so used to everything that Brown offered me that I felt like I was at home. I was so comfortable with everyone since they motivated me to get out of my comfort zone and just be myself, and because of that I was able to discover new things about me along this two week journey. But the most important thing of it all was that I developed a family-like relationship with everyone there, including my cohort. Just spending time and seeing each other every single day you just feel like you found another home within the dorms and in class. It's crazy to think about; and I never thought how two weeks with strangers can turn into family just like that. It's hard to express what I feel just on this blog. But all I hope is to see the wonderful faces of those in the summer program again later on in the future. 

Just say that we made it! The ILC Women and Leadership Cohort of 2014
Action Plan Presentations 7/31/14
We thank you Ivy League Connection and Brown University for an amazing summer!
And let me just take a moment to thank the wonderful leaders in my Women and Leadership class who really taught me more than I can ever imagine. I spent two weeks of my summer with them and it was literally the best two weeks of my life. From all the activities and deep conversations that we had in class, I can imagine just how successful they will be in the future in implementing their action plan and achieving so much more. This class was filled with unique talents and personality that you can't find elsewhere and I'm just fortunate enough to be a part of it. This wasn't just my class, it was my family. And let's not forget that this class had one of the best (if not the best) and most inspiring instructor of all time, Dean Almandrez! If you're reading this, thank you Dean Almandrez for motivating and inspiring us to become the great leaders that we are today. I hope that this won't be the last time we'll all see each other...
The Women and Leadership Class of 2014!

"Watch out, we're taking over the world!"
-Stephanie Wang
"I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me."

-Maya Angelou

Sunday, August 10, 2014

How Can I Ever Thank You All?

It seems as if it was just yesterday when I met my NEMOW sisters. I remember sitting down with all eight of them preparing our blog page and learning how to use blogger. As the times I got to spend time with them went by I gained trust towards them, including the girls that went to school with me. If it wasn't for the ILC I wouldn't of gotten so close to NEMOW. The whole preparation for the trip taught me that when I'm older I won't have my parents to tell me to respond to emails, do essays, and email applications to Brown. Learning about technology was a huge thing for me , I've never been close to using any devices bigger then my phone. I've learned how to upload pictures to my computer,  adjust photos, and even rename them. It funny how technology has been around me this whole time but I've never really used it.

Having the chance to take a course at Brown is a big privilege. My parents would of never had enough money to pay for the Women and Leadership class, let alone for my plane ticket. The other girls taking the Same course as me and NEMOW had their parents pay for everything. Due to my social economic status I've always felt like I can't get anywhere to go to school or even travel. I also always thought rich girls were just spoiled and didn't care about others but while taking my course I met some girls that were very down to earth and didn't let money determine the person that they are. 

Thanks to my course I know feel more open about my gender and more proud. I now watch tv, movies, and videos and automatically see how woman do so much to impress everyone but themselves. I now am not able to ignore how women are hyper sexualized and stereotyped by the social media, I feel like I have the need to say something now. I've changed into a more outspoken person throughout the two week course. Having to wake up early to go to breakfast, then class, then lunch , then class again was a sneak peek at what college life will be like. I know that I wont be having anyone tell me to head to my dorm because its almost curfew or to clean and wash my clothes when I'm away for college in the future. I gained lots of self-responsibility while having to depend on myself. I also learned how to spend my money wisely and not let the other girl trick me into going out to eat all the time. The dorm life was really good especially since I didn't have a roommate, If she would of arrived I would of learned a lot from her.
I'll forever remember you all! Women and Leadership summer class of 2014! CIT 219, is our home!

Going on college tours was something I would of never done If it wasn't for the ILC. Seeing NYU, Dartmouth, Columbia, and Wellesley helped me realized that UC Berkeley isn't the best school like everyone told me. All of the campuses were nice including Brown University. I got so attached to Brown that I now want to attend there, it's my first option. Second I want to attend Wellesley College, it seemed like it was the place for me the instinct I stepped foot on their campus it was just so beautiful. An interesting fact that I found out about was that financial aid will be willing to pay for my whole college classes which is great for me because my family won't be able to afford it. It's sad how I didn't know about all this college support and wonderful colleges/ universities.

Going on fancy dinners wasn't my sort of thing but I went along with it. I never understood why the ILC had us go to fancy dinners but I'm pretty sure it's so we can experience the wealthy life we can have if we work hard and get a wonderful degree or career. I enjoyed the food and had the chance to meet lots of people that started with absolutely no money and now have a good job and education. The people I met have encouraged me to work hard and discover different things.

Our Columbia Tour photo with Beulla.
Thanks to the ILC I'l forever have those eight sisters and chaperon with me wherever I go. I became so attached to them that I even know their favorite saying and know how they really are. I've met many older people who told me about their stories and others who helped me figure out what I should study. I learned how to use technology more on a daily bases, give myself responsibility, and trusting people. I can never put in words how thankful I am that the ILC gave me this opportunity. I thank Don for taking most of his time to write extra extra long but important emails to all the ILC'ers and for organizing everything. A big thanks also to Madeline Kronenberg, Charles Ramsey, and all the sponsors for cooperating and believing in all of us. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I will forever cherish. I'll never be able to pay off this whole trip but I'll make our program proud and represent even when I go off to college. It'll always be the ILC,  the program of once in a lifetime opportunities and dreams that come true. Thank you all!
Our last picture.

Thank You, All of You.

Once again, I would just like to take a moment to thank everyone who has supported me throughout these last few months…there were so many people involved who have encouraged and allowed me to participate in this amazing program.  With a special thanks to Charles Ramsey, Madeline Kronenberg and Don Gosney for their continued dedication to the Ivy League Connection.  Thanks to my wonderful chaperone Jenny and my fun-loving cohorts.  Thanks to all the alumni, students, and educators who volunteered their time to meet with us and share their experience and insight.  Thanks to family too—this truly was an experience that I will never forget. 

It’s so hard for me to wrap my head around the idea that this adventure is coming to a close.  I’ll be forever grateful for that knowledge that I’ve gained throughout the Women and Leadership course at Brown University.  I’ve learned about gender roles, societal oppression, and so much more. I’ve learned how to be a better leader, how to listen, and how to present myself.  I’ve learned about different colleges, research and internship opportunities, and the importance of networking. But most importantly, I’ve learned a lot about myself.  Now I’m finally on the path to discover my true potential (I say “path” because this course made me realize that I still have a lot of room for further growth and development).  I’m excited to put this new knowledge to use within my own community and beyond.


I never attended the ILC recruitment presentation, my counselor Ms. Munoz called me out of class and  into her office one day and I asked me if I would like to join the ILC, I told her yes and she wrote down my email and that how it all began. After that day I began receives what seemed like a ton of emails, I am very glad my counselor cared so much about my future that she went out of her way to insure I was aware of my opportunities.

I have only been home a couple of days and I have begun to see change within myself. I will never forget the girls I met in the Women and Leadership class nor will I forget the lessons I learned from each one of them. The Women and Leadership course allowed me to have a safe space to learn what it means to be women in the 21st century. The way I viewed women in the media has changed and I can no longer ignore the way women are hypersexualized and stereotyped.

This class really opened my eyes and showed me how women are treated by the norms of society. I learned more about myself in  this class, I  learn what type of leader I was changing my personal awareness which enabled me to make better decision when it comes to working as a team.

I am extremely grateful for all of opportunity’s the ILC provided me with. For the last three week I spent on the other side of the county and meet different people from around the world. I had the opportunity to visit colleges like NYU, Colombia, Wellesley, Dartmouth and Brown. I learned from the information session, I learned that attending one of these colleges could be a real possibility and there is finical aid available to attend these schools.

Being away from my family allowed me the opportunity to get to know myself in a different way and see how I acted in a college environment along with being responsible for myself. Looking back will miss everyone I met on my trip. I can’t believe that I had the opportunity to take a 2 week class at Brown University. I am grateful for class and the college experiences it severed as more motivation to go to college. After this trip I can finally see myself attending a four year college. Now that I am back in my community I can’t wait to share that same motivation.

Before going to Brown, Don warned me that I would be treated like an adult and for that I am thankful it allowed me to accountable for myself. Now I am starting to feel more like an adult and more responsible.  After this course I now know that I can make a change in my community, I have a voice and it’s time it is heard.

Thank you Don, Ms. Munoz, and ILC.

Just the Beginning

My ILC cohorts and I were on the Chicago Flight to San Francisco airport on Wednesday heading home. It was our last day in Providence, RI, so Jenny planned an afternoon at the Roger Williams Park Zoo. YeonSoo and I got ready in the morning at 8:00 AM; we had a few hours before meeting in the lobby of Hotel Providence at 11:00 AM. I walked four blocks from Hotel Providence to Small Point CafĂ©, where I ordered to- go Pizza strip and Sweet Sticky bun, before meeting with Jenny at 10:10 AM. Arriving in the lobby ten minutes earlier with enough time to eat my cold pizza and sweet cinnamon sticky bun felt great. Jenny and I walked to Rhode Island State House, located close by to Hotel Providence. I expected the morning weather to be warm and a bit cloudy, but instead the sun came out and it was hot. As we both walked up the white marble staircases to the double front doors, I became more curious to learn about the history and architecture. After reading a brochure, I found out The Rhode Island State House is the world’s fourth largest marble dome. Entering through the south wing doors, and we were met by a security guard who recommended us to visit the Chapel Room first. I read about John Williamson, who founded Rhode Island State with original documents proof. It was different navigating a dimly lit small square room, with original belongings of John Williamson, such as his real wallet and two compasses for navigation.  After about ten minutes of reading and sharing our thoughts, Jenny and I decided to explore more of the museum. Immediately, the Visitors Shop caught my attention because of the bright and welcoming open windows. When we walked out of the Visitors Shop, I had five postcards and a mini American flag. Then Jenny and I took some photos, before we walked back to meet with my cohorts in Hotel Providence lobby at 11:00.
 Rhode Island State House Visitors Shop Postcards
Checking out of my room will be so easy, since I just had to bring my luggage to the lobby downstairs from the second floor. I jogged up the stairs to the second floor to my room at the end of the hall, instead waiting to long for the elevator. Deciding to make two trips of bringing my one bag, carry on duffle bag and laptop backpack was less of a physical burden, which turned out to be a worse choice for me. On the second trip walking upstairs, I thought I had my room key card in my purse but I couldn’t find it at all. I had to walk back fast to the lobby, and ask the front desk for YeonSoo’s (my roommates) key card. I came down to the lobby last, and traced back my steps to remember my room key card should be in my backpack. We waited outside for a Dodge Caravan rental car and Jenny’s van, then loaded our luggage, and drove to Roger Williamson Park Zoo. Our chaperon Jenny let us explore the park in groups of two or more. The park was not too busy today and was small and easy to navigate. I learned about the amphibians, elephants.

At the Feinstein Junior Wetlands Trail
At 2:00 PM, we all met near the entrance of the zoo to leave and drive to Providence airport.  After going through check-in and pre-TSA, I had Johnny Rockets Burger and strawberry milkshake for lunch. Our flight to Chicago Midway was at 5:40 PM, and then we would transfer to B-21 for a direct flight to San Francisco Airport (SFO). On aboard to SFO, Jenny planned for us to eat Chicago Pizza, but we could not find it in the limited time frame. We ordered dinner to eat in the airplane.
Chicage Midway waiting to board Southwest to SFO

Throughout our last day together in Providence, I reflected on the new friendships I have made, the continuing lessons learnt from my Women and Leadership class, and most of all, this whole amazing opportunity the Ivy League Connection had granted us. By giving us a peek into all of the open doors we can enter, I am more comfortable and knowledgeable with applying to an out of state university, especially an Ivy League. Exploring the peaceful Roger Williamson Zoo, in the afternoon gave me time to think in the present and my future. Being at the zoo with Jenny and my cohorts felt like a close activity, but at the same time just the beginning each long successful journey ahead of us. 

When SouthWest airplane landed in San Francisco, I hurriedly grabbed my duffel bag from overhead storage then walked with Jenny and Nemow cohorts to pick up our luggage. As we were walking energetically to baggage claim, our families were awaiting with proud smiles and hugs and the wonderful Don taking photos to remember. It finally settled in that we are home with much more knowledge to share from our two and a half weeks, which had felt like a short time, yet long enough from such a diverse exposure.  
Left is me, Right is Jenny

Friday, August 8, 2014

Appreciation Day: Reflective Blog

All I can say is that a new beginning is coming toward all of us Ivy League Ladies '14 in the future. We have grown so much from this experience—journey I should say. I have seen so much improvement, academic wise, and also in our inner character. I have learned a lot about these Nemow's stories. And I have never been closer to them than what we are now. We have stayed with each other through the good and bad times—seen each other in our highs and lows. Nevertheless, this has been more than what I could've ever asked for.

After sleepless nights of trying to pour out my day on my blog every night, blogging was a way to reflect upon my day. Even though I would be exhausted from all the activities that were planned for that day like visiting schools or taking long car rides, I would learn something from everything we would do. I appreciate the fact that I was accepted into this program and had the opportunity to travel for free. If it wasn't for this program, I fear that I would've gotten a late start in picking the right college for me.

Blogging was always filled with a whole bunch of realizations and connections that I had made that day.  My mind has been taught to put into words everything I was thinking when, before, I wasn't able to. For example, I strongly believe that I can articulate what I’m thinking way more than before because I have the practice to type it onto the screen.

I have learned so much these past three weeks, everything is just jumbled in my head, and I am still trying to make sense of it all. But, I do know that I want to share my knowledge with everyone because I know how grateful I am that I had the opportunity to do so. My life has changed for the better and I hope that by me transferring my knowledge to other people, it will inspire other people to take action. I have the motivation and dedication to make my community a better place now because I see that we have to start somewhere. I expect a lot out of me. Before this program, I didn't have a reason why I should do anything.  For once in my life I believe in my ability and potential and I love this feeling.

I can no longer go back to that place or be that person I once was where I had a mindset of laying low. I have to believe in my ability because if I don't, then who will? I was not aware of all the opportunities that were always around me and I feel so foolish for not taking advantage of everything that was out there for me.  I just can't go back. I won't go back. I am a different person—a better, more confident version of myself.

I have always had a mentality of fending for myself and counting on my own strength to get me through every obstacle. I learned that most of the time, you can't do everything by yourself.  I thought that people like me had a low chance of graduating college without debt after more debt. Schools like Brown. have a tremendous amount of financial aid and require you to pay very little. All I really need to do is ask, find and apply to as much help as I can. I really have nothing to lose.

The classes I took at Brown for a Women and Leadership course have to be the best decision I have ever made.  I absolutely loved waking up every morning just to go to class and I believe that is how school is supposed to be. I have a craving to learn and I have never learned so much in just two weeks. I thought it was impossible but, it happened.  I saw the world around me for what it really was. All the good and all the bad things which only made me more eager to learn more and more.  I wish everyone would have the same opportunity that I had because it is life changing. This world is so confusing and unique and will never cease to surprise us, why wouldn't anyone want to know what is out there?

I wish high school could be like that but students just don't care about their education.  It is always something that gets in the way like for me, the lack of resources and inspiration.  I didn't see anyone who did great things in my community so I didn't know why I had to do something either. I am so dumb for thinking that I had nothing to offer the world and that wasn't the case at all. If that was true, I wouldn't have been selected to participate in this program.

I have reached my potential in this experience and all I want to do now is reach higher and higher. I cannot find a way to tell everyone who helped me in any was how grateful I am for this reality check. Mr. Peritz, Don, my counselor, and Don again because he showed so much interest in my education. We need a lot more people like them because they are the true heroes behind every person's success.

Thank you all.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Going Back Home

Wednesday day began waking up in providence for the last time. I will really am going to miss providence and Brown I will forever had the memories of summer at Brown 2014. NEMOW met Jenny in the lobby at 11 in the morning and then went to go get some food and lunch for are plane ride back home. After we return back to Hotel Providence we loaded up the van and taxi with are luggage right before I came downstairs one of the hose keepers came to my room in a hurry before I left to thank our group for the notes and tips we left for her and I thanked her for being messy and she said it was important to her to make us feel at home that why she would make a walk way. Once we finished loading the luggage.  Jenny decided to take us to the zoo. The Providence Zoo was the best zoo I have been to in my life. My favorite animal was the giraffes, I love seeing their beautiful colors and prints. Fun fact the reason why a giraffe’s tong is black is because they eaten so much that if there tongs were any lighter there tongs would get sun burn. I also had the opportunity to see the elephants being feed and I captured one really good picture of one of the elephants sticking out its tong. I really enjoyed our last activity in providence.

After the zoo we went straight to the airport. I was TSA pre that meant that I didn’t have to take my shoes off and it made going through security essay. Once we were seated next to the gate I had some time before e we bordered. Thao, Yeonsoo, and I decided to go souvenir shopping I bought a stuffed lobster for my mother that said Rhode Island of the left claw. I named the lobster Larry the mobster. Are first flight was from Providence to Chicago, I sat next to a man who worked in marketing in marketing who I asked questions about business because I was interested in majoring in business however he was not interested in talking to me. I slept most of the flight which was a good thing because usually I get motion sickness on airplanes. Once we arrive in the Chicago airport Jenny took us to go get some food I ordered a beacon cheese burger with coconut water. The burgers took longer than expected we were worried we would not make our fight on time however it all worked out, we made is just in time for are plain ride to San Francisco

Don't recognize this feeling

These long three weeks have been filled with excitement, sadness,  and a lot of growing up in my experience. I was so excited since February when I was first accepted into this program and then also when I went on my first plane ride. I was so excited for the future and what it had planned for me. I was looking foward to everything that I was going to learn and all the new friendships I was going to build. But, Iwas also sad because of everyone I had to leave back home. It was impossible for me to take my parents or whole community with me. I was now a representative of my community and anyone else who believed in me.This showed me how to be independent and responsible.  I learned how to be an adult.

Overall, this has been an amazing journey that I will never forget because it has shaped me o be the person that I am today- -the person I will be tomorrow- -and the great leader if the future.

Waking up for the last time next to Cynthia and Izabel (my hotel roomies) was also sad. I will think of Izabel every time I see a mess on the floor because she wasn't the most organized person in the world. Every time I see a floral shirt I will think of Cynthia because she loved them. It makes ms sadder to think that I will not be attending school with these two because I will be transferring to another school this year. I will miss them but, I chose this school because it will be an important chapter in my life.

Each one of these ladies have taught me something that I will never forget whether it was advice, a new way of thinking, or just how to handle business at times.

Going to the Roger Williams Zoo today was a very good way to end this trip because I a absolutely love animals. I love walking around and spending time with my friends. Personally, my favorite animal is the majestic dolphin.  I was looking foward to seeing one in real life for the first time but, didn't get te chance to. I think that dolphins are very intelligent and super playful. They are very interactive and have the capacity or potential to learn a lot.

The fact that I was ever in Rhode Island is very faint right now. I have never travelled out of the state ans suddenly,  out of nowhere, I end up a the way on the other side of the country.  I think that I am addicted to travelling now and I have the Ivy League Connection Program to thank. There is so much to see, do and experience that there couldn't possibly be enough time.

Coming home to my parents is what is giving me te strength to power through these weeks. They give me like a goal or something special--a reason to come back.  It's nice to know you have people that care about you. I am finally coming home and I've been longing for my family's affection and love.

See You Later Rhode Island

The countdown until the day I go home is over now. To be honest, I was enjoying my time in the East Coast so much that going home was hardly ever on my mind. It’s so strange how staying there for two weeks and five days was enough to make Rhode Island feel like home. Packing my bags was easy because I never had the time to fully unpack my suitcases. I went to the weight scale in the hotel bathroom to weigh myself with the suitcase and without it to see if my check-in bag weighed less than 50 pounds. But I knew the scale must have been broken because my weight is definitely not 84 pounds. So, I went into Maria and Thao’s hotel room and weighed my check-in bags there. They were both less than 50 pounds so I was all good to go. 

I walked to the mall to return a shirt that I bought for my friend because I realized that it was too small. I decided to eat breakfast there too since I had to be in the lobby by 11 AM. Jenny and NEMOW (the 9 ILCers for the Women and Leadership Program at Brown University) walked to Gourmet Heaven to get lunch to eat either at the zoo or the airport. I decided to eat my salad in the car ride to the zoo because I have no patience when it comes to food. During this trip, I made healthier habits like drinking lots of water and valuing vegetables over greasy foods. Good job YeonSoo.

After we all got our food to go, we walked back to Hotel Providence and the workers at the hotel helped us back our luggage into the van and taxi. It was a sort of a hectic process because there are ten girls and each of us has at least two suitcases. After getting our entire luggage into the two cars, we were off to the Roger Williams Zoo, which was only about 15 minutes from the hotel. With the help of the handy dandy iphone, my chaperone Jenny found her way to the zoo pretty fast. She talked to us about how helpful it is that we have a GPS on our phones to navigate us. Jenny also mentioned how much Don wanted her to memorize directions ahead of time. Yes, that sounds like Don. 

When we got to the zoo, the heat took most of the energy away from us. Although I couldn’t say hi to every animal at the zoo, I got to meet some of my close friends like donkey and alpaca. When we got to the elephants, all the girls spent thirty minutes looking at elephants eat with their trunk. I waited outside for them to come out, while I ate more of my salad. After a while, I started to feel sorry for all of the animals at the zoo because they didn’t look happy. The only animal that looked happy were the goats ONLY because we were feeding them at the petting zoo. Other than the goats, the animals looked as tired as I was and didn’t move around as much as they do in documentary films. I now understand why there are so many people against the Oakland and San Francisco Zoo. Forcing animals to stay inside a gate is cruel and restricts them from being who they truly are. Lions should be able to kill other big animals and anteaters should be able to eat ants.
Good bye East Coast
San Francisco from the plane

We got to our airport two hours before our flight because Jenny doesn’t like to be on time. Just like Don, she believes that being early is better than being on time. While Jenny went to go drop off the van at the store near our hotel, the rest of us weighed our check-in bags. Luckily, my bags weighed 44 pounds and 30 pounds. I deserve a high five for that. On the plane ride, I made sure that I slept for a long time because I have school tomorrow. When the plane was landing, I could automatically tell that we were in the Bay Area. Going on this trip has really made me appreciate things more at home like the bathroom and wind. 

On our way to grab our luggage, I found my friend holding flowers up to welcome me back in the Bay Area. It was nice seeing families reunite with their loved ones with posters, hugs, and flowers. I would like to thank the Ivy League Connection again for definately giving me an opportunity of a lifetime. One year ago, I would have never thought of leaving California for college. Thank you for opening my eyes to new doors. 

I'm Coming Home, Tell the World that I'm Coming Home

Our last day at Providence…What a journey. I can’t believe that I, we, spent two weeks and five days in the East Coast. I’m excited to go home, yet I feel semi-emotional. I didn’t want to leave my second home, Brown University. This morning, I was able to go to Thayer for one last time with Maria. We woke up around 8 o’clock and began our walk at 8:30 AM. It was a bit tiring, but we made it to the bookstore. Beforehand, we ate at Au Bon Pain, which served toasted coconut iced/hot lattes. They were so good, and I was able to enjoy a plain croissant with it. Maria had a bagel. We spent 10 minutes eating, and off we went. We spent the majority of our time at the bookstore for some last minute Brown souvenirs. I love Brown, and I will miss it. I won’t tell you how much we spent at the bookstore….Anyways. We both went back to Hotel Providence around 10:25, and arrived around 10:45. Since we took a different route than usual, we both found it WAY easier than our old route. Coming back to the hotel was hectic. Both Maria and I were about to be done with our packing. After putting a lot of items in my check-in bag, I was anxious about the weight. At 11 o’clock, the cohort descended to the lobby. Since today was our last day, we all decided to go to the zoo; but we had to get some food.
We went to Gourmet Heaven, and it was cool. They served a variety of dishes and snacks, and now I understand why it’s called “ Gourmet Heaven.” After getting food, it was off to the zoo.

All ten of us took two vans to Roger Williams Zoo. I was in a different van than the majority, with Magaly and Muang. Our driver, Michael was a nice man who had a wonderful conversation with all of us. It was fun being in the Dodge van, and in a few minutes we all made it to the zoo.

The zoo was probably the best zoo I have ever been through, keep in mind that I have only visited the Oakland Zoo. There were a lot of animals like, anteaters, bald eagles, red crown cranes, harper seals, red pandas, moon bears, and many more. I believe that Magaly, Yeonsoo, Muang, Maria, Cynthia, Izabel, and I spent a majority of our time looking at the elephants. They came into a little tunnel where families were able to see them up close. It was interesting at first, but afterwards, they just ate food. So we all left after 20 minutes of watching it, and went outside. We then began to look at different animals at the zoo. It was interesting, and I’m glad we went. I wished that we were able to see the butterflies, however, the zoo were charging people to see them. That was not fun, but it didn’t matter because I was tired. I was now with Magaly and Izabel, and we all sat on a bench. The funniest things happen at the zoo; for instance, a dad and his daughter were walking near a photo booth and the daughter wanted to see it. The father replied with, “It’s closed,” and she acknowledged it and they both moved on. It was a hilarious moment. I can’t wait to go to the zoo again.

After the zoo, NEMOW went to the airport to go to Chicago. It was a touchy moment, and I’m hoping that I don’t cry later on during the school year, or near the end of Summer. I’m missing everybody..and it’s just sad. Maria made a good point, saying that once she gets home, there will be nothing to do. This experience was the highlight of her summer, and it’s the same with me. I’m hoping to visit Brown again, or at least get accepted, but I don’t know if it’s possible. I do have more confidence after yesterday’s dinner, but I can’t deny the fact that it is a 50/50 chance. I wish the ILC would send us tickets back East for a reunion. It’s just a dream, but can it become a reality? I highly doubt it, but it would be nice. The flight to Chicago barely had any turbulence, which was great. A pretty smooth ride, and I was reading for the majority of the time. We landed, and boarded our next flight twenty minutes later. This flight to SF is emotional, and shaky. There were times when Magaly, on my right, and Yeonsoo, on my left, would grab on to me, and I don’t blame them. It was a pretty scary ride, and I hope it gets better. Haha, that’s semi-true because once the plane stopped showing the “seatbelt sign,” everything was all good. Now, with the sign on, the ride is pretty bumpy.

I can’t wait to meet my parents. I’ve been dying to eat some Vietnamese food in the past few weeks, and I miss my bed. I also miss my friends, but after today, everything is going to get busier and busier. I’m glad that I was chosen for this adventure, and I wish I know the reason why. I’m grateful for everything, and I hope we had more time back East. I really enjoyed my stay, and I’m glad the weather was 10 degrees cooler, in accordance to Michael. The zoo was fun, but I was not able to hollah at every single animal, but I think a majority of them knew I was there. Going back home, means action plans being put into action. I know I’m jumping from topic to topic, but I’M REALLY HAPPY. Thanks so much for this opportunity, and I hope I was a cool person. 
The Crew Is Back!