Saturday, August 2, 2014

Hello Columbia!

I am writing part of this in Providence Station sitting down with Sierra, Jessie, YeonSoo, Maria and Thao. Our taxi dropped us off in the front, where we entered waiting for Jenny and the rest of our cohorts, in front of Café La France, ready to aboard a train for New York.
Everything went by quickly. Just about an hour ago, we said our farewells and best wishes to our wonderful classmates, TA, and Dean Almandrez. I cannot believe my time at Brown University went by so fast, even though I learned a lot in this short time. 

I woke up at 6:50 AM, used to waking up earlier to walk for breakfast around 8:00, but this time to finish packing my belongings for Jenny to pick up at 8:00 AM. Our luggage will be staying at Hotel Providence this weekend, while we will be in New York with a carry-on.

My last class of Women and Leadership began at 9:00 AM, as some of my classmates dressed more professionally for their Action Plan presentations around noon; my cohort and I presented yesterday and was dressed for travel. Dean Almandrez graciously provided my class low calorie cheese Ruffles, garlic peanuts, and Oreos in celebration as it is our last class together.

Isabella our TA started the class off with a reflection activity on our favorite, most memorable lesson we have learned in our Women and Leadership class. She held a bright, blue bundle of yarn, and gave us instructions to discuss what we felt, while unraveling it and pass it along to our left. I remember saying our class bonded so well in the two weeks at Brown University, and we had so much in common than expected. I learned to break down the social and construction of gender hidden so well every day, have confidence in yourself and if not fake it until you make it.

As my class went around in our usual circle, the vibe became heartfelt and loving. We grew to become closer comparable to a family. When the blue bundle of yarn arrived back to Isabella, she spoke to us saying even if we most likely would not see each other again; we shall not forget our Summer@Brown Women and Leadership class. Each of us cut our own piece of blue yarn, which we held on to, as a reminder of us supporting another wherever it takes us, lessons learnt, and how we felt as a whole class together. Dean Almandrez asked us to stand up and tell the people who have influenced or inspired us in our Women and Leadership class. I talked to a lot of my classmates, who I have seen is opinionated and outspoken in class discussions, and their Action Plan. Also I was surprised with their response of how much I grown in a good way throughout the program. Our RA’s organized a celebration for the Leadership Institute last night, and they were amazed with how free I was, joyful, social and a strong persona overlooked that they did not expect came out of me.
After this, we sat at our desks in a circle, to express our gratitude to Isabella our amazing TA, but also the RA at Perkins, who we have all grown closer to and will miss dearly. We felt high emotions of happiness, inspirations, sad from not being able to live together and learn from each other in class each day.

Then Dean Almandrez handed us each a departing gift. The Ziploc bag was symbolic of our strong mind and hearts. Inside were:

  • Small to-go Kleenex tissues and she told us it is okay to cry when we cannot hold back and it helped us purge our bad feelings and toxins holding us back from moving forward.
  • Chocolate kisses to represent her love and support for us throughout our Action Plans and life.
  • Mini play dough, which she told us is important we understand the possibilities for growth and change for ourselves, flexibility, in the end remember we are still the same whole being. 

Our closing activity was a video created by Stephanie Wang, our classmate, amazing photographer and friend. You can find ‘Summer@Brown 2014’ video on Youtube search. It was a great closing event and all of us laughed together at memories, enjoyed each other’s presence before departure back to our homes. I will cherish and take all what I have learned from Brown University’s Women and Leadership class to apply it to leadership roles also in the Action Plan at Maria, Cynthia’s and my high school.

Dean Almandrez ended our class earlier at around 10:30 AM, and she welcomed us to stay afterwards for pictures and farewells.
My Ivy League Connection (ILC) cohort and I walked back to Perkins Hall dorms to pick up our carryons for the weekend in New York, drop off our room keys outside the Grad Center and return our rental fans.

First we dropped off our room keys in an envelope with our name, room number, dorm building, walked to return our fans, with my duffle carryon and laptop backpack. Jenny arrived so we could return our fans and get back some of the money from our rental fans. Then off we were to await our taxis for Providence Station aboard a train for New York.
It is my first time taking Amtrak, so I was taking in all I can get out of this experience. I was so looking forward to Amtrak, seeing how quickly the Train Information changed.
My ILC cohorts and I ate lunch at Café la France. For lunch I had a Buffalo Chicken Wrap, Cape Cod Kettle Cooked Potato Sea Salt & Vinegar Chips and a bottle of water. My appetite was fulfilled quickly after eating lunch awaiting our train.

We boarded the train set for New York, then searched for our seats. Jessie, and I sat in the same train car, and most of our cohorts were in the train car behind us. I took a seat next to Greta, a woman who attended Harvard University, and is now a Harvard assistant researcher in Business. We spoke about our Ivy League experiences, and I found out she also had the amazing opportunity in high school to attend a Brown University summer program. She could not remember which pre college program, but remembered her dorms, which she thought needed upgrades, it might have been Perkins. Originally, she had an interest in pursuing a career researching in science laboratories, but then switched majors a few times along her college career and is now an assistant researcher writing business cases. I was amazed at how much she had to write long essays, and I realized that I need to work on my writing skills for twenty-five page college essays. We spoke about a lot of topics, such as Harvard study abroad programs where plenty of her friends went to Germany, Russia, United Kingdom, Nigeria and other countries. I am interested in studying abroad one day, and I have heard many times it changes your perspectives in life for the better.

The train ride did not feel long, but then we all had a flash flood warning on our phones. Greta told me that if we are staying in Upper West Side New York, we will be fine. She has to travel between Massachusetts and New York a lot. As our train stopped in Penn Station, Jenny (our chaperon) led the way to find my traveling companions. It was a bustling scene of activity where people walked in different directions and I can imagine being in one of those movies based in New York. As soon as we got outside, I was awed with the tall skyscrapers, I felt so tiny compared to the buildings.
The air had many different smells and felt warm and heavy. Outside the sun was not out, and there was already a long line of people with their luggage awaiting a taxi cab. I learned from Jenny that New York is a dense area, where lots of people live together in high buildings. Of course, we had a problem of people taking the cabs which should be available for the people in the front of the line. We took 3 cabs to Hotel Beacon. Jenny, Sierra and I were the last three of The Ivy League Connection to take a cab. Along the way, Jenny and I spoke about Palestinian and Israeli conflict, we both shared same views on the oppressed Palestinian people. Along the way, we witnessed the Palestinian rally of people holding flags and protesting while nearby on the intersection was the Israeli rally.

YeonSoo and I checked in our room 1603 on the 16th floor of Hotel Beacon.
Under ten minutes, we got ready, met in the hotel lobby and walked to Isabella’s Italian restaurant a few blocks away. Beulah and six of her friends, all undergraduates of Columbia University, were seated at the two tables. We spoke about Columbia, how students are so diverse, over 850 clubs and organizations, college life and advice, family, and interest of majors. I learned that we cannot always prepare for college challenges, there will be those nights where you have to stay up late, and or call back home when feeling you need to talk. All of the Columbian students have said it is so challenging, lots of difficult course load of work, but at the end of the day, it is all worth it to attend Columbia University.

1 comment:

  1. Maybe you're too close to see it, Muang, but I've seen your growth. First it was the growth from when you were interviewed in January and then a second spurt once you took off to head east. I'm betting that we'll see a third spurt after you've seen all of these schools and had a couple of days in New York City.