Thursday, May 22, 2014

It's All about the Community

Wow. Yes, that's all I have to say. That's all I have to say about yesterday's dinner.  Once again, I've been caught with my mouth wide open, not only because of the captivating food but mainly because of ILC's dedication and efforts. I've caught myself in this situation once already at the school board meeting, and now, yet again.

It all began at the El Cerrito Plaza BART Station. All members of the Cornell cohort combined with Don, Mr. Ramsey, Ms. Kronenberg, the sponsors, and Cornell alumni gathered at around 5:20 pm. As we waited for our 5:42 train to Embarcadero, I was able to talk to Don Kuehne, an alumnus from Cornell and a research engineer at Chevron. Being interested in engineering myself, I drew inspiration and gained insightful advice for what to accept when I head on over to Cornell this summer.

Once we departed from the El Cerrito BART Station, I couldn't believe how swift the train ride was. Perhaps, this was thanks to Ms. Kronenberg, who kept Carla and me engaged by talking about personal statements and college in general. Before I realized, we were all standing amidst skyscrapers, which touched the skies majestically as they boasted San Francisco's classic urban feel. Within the next five minutes, I was standing across the street from a small, red building titled "Town Hall" -- our restaurant.
These were awaiting me at my seat.
Mr. Ramsey, Ms. Kronenberg, student speakers including Kevin Mendoza and Carla Martinez, and Cornell alumnus, Samantha Berg, did a fantastic job reaching out to the audience and helped reestablish the reason why we had all gathered: not only for the students, but also for the community.

My mom and I at the dinner
·         Just as my mom and I took our seats along with my other cohort member, Jun Chen and her father,  a very sweet couple greeted us. This power couple was Rachel Reichenbach and Doug Mitarotonda who set a very casual and friendly environment for all of us.  Both of them have an entire life story in Ithaca together (They have almost 6 degrees from Cornell under their belts!). All I can say is that I was so fortunate to be seated next to them because the information they shared is truly priceless and I hope to use much of their advice once I land in Cornell. One thing from Doug that I remember most vividly is what he said when he was talking about how important it is to have people older than you as mentors and advisors in life. I clearly remember him saying, "While there are people constantly pushing you forward, there are also people at Cornell who are ready to catch you if you are about to fall." Such insights have really relaxed my nerves and have prepared me all the more for not only college, but for life in general.  Sitting directly across from me was Kenneth Kuchman from Bernard E. & Alba Witkin Charitable Foundation located in Berkeley, CA.  He too shared wonderful insight about his years at Cornell University and was willing to give us any answers to our questions. 
A group picture of our wonderful table (Mr. Kuchman is missing here.)
Meeting such influential people in this spectacular ILC journey has allowed me to experience something I've never felt before. Never before did I think I would be seated at a restaurant like Town Hall in San Francisco next to wonderful people including Rachel Reichenbach, Doug Mitarotonda, or Kenneth Kuchman. All of this has been possible only because of the Ivy League Connection, which has put so much effort into celebrating our accomplishments and sending us to prestigious programs over the summer. But at this point, I would like to remember what Mr. Ramsey had told us (the students attending Cornell)  in his speech: "Stop thinking about yourself. It's not always about you. It's about the community." To reinforce his point, this is about the community. Though we had gathered at Town Hall to celebrate our accomplishments thus far, we had also gathered to mark the rise of new ambassadors of the WCCUSD School District. We will make our district proud and this dinner has brought to light the individuals who take time off their busy schedules to give back to their community and help young individuals like us smoothly transition into the next stage in life. Now, they serve as role models; people who have inspired us to do the same -- give back to our community.
The beautiful flowers gifted by Mr. Ramsey.
At this moment, on such a great platform, I would like to thank ALL the sponsors for coming together for a wonderful cause and being the backbones for our success. We still have much more in life to accomplish, but you have helped plant the seed. We will come back to WCCUSD from Cornell hoping to instill change in every possible way.  To all the sponsors: On my behalf,  a very sincere thank you for everything.
Here it is!
How can I complete a blog post about the dinner and not talk about the food. Isn't that simply against blogging rules? I'll stick to my favorite part, the dessert. For dessert, the waitress served a beautiful masterpiece before me. It seemed so delicately crafted that I didn't want to ruin the presentation of the oozing dark chocolate fudge, caramelized bananas, and cinnamon filo. After turning my dessert into a superstar by allowing it to pose for my camera several times, I decided to delve right in. It had a creamy, rich interior and a slightly crisp exterior. When I took a bite, the two textures mixed as one and allowed for a wonderful taste. This emblem of perfection was none other than the scrumptious Caramelized Banana Icebox Cake.

                As the ILC journey continues, the Cornell cohort has a few more stops and before we know it, we'll be on the plane to Ithaca. Ready or not, here we come!

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