Friday, July 31, 2009

More Friends and...More Work!

Hello everyone! It is Friday, which has been one week since we arrived! I am actually really surprised at how fast time flew by. The last Friday, we were exhausted from the plane ride and had no clue how to get around the campus. Well actually, due to the intensity, what I mean when I say "getting around the campus" only includes the locations we have to go to, such as Trumbull College or Branford College (the places where we eat breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner); WLH (William L Harkness Hall, where we meet our Marshall Policy Brief Groups); the Rosenfeld Hall, where our lectures are held; the Sterling Memorial Library (where we can do research) and of course the Timothy Dwight College (where our dorms are).

Anyway, today started at 5:00 A.M. Stephanie and I planned on doing laundry, but ran into a little mishap. The laundry room is located in the basement, which the both of us knew was on the lowest level of our TD (Timothy Dwight) building. When we got downstairs, however, there were three different doors and we had no clue which one to go to. Our failure sadly brought us back upstairs, awake at 5:00 A.M. for no reason. Yet since we were awake, we decided to go outside and read/prepare for our morning/evening lectures. Breakfast came soon after, and soon, it was lecture time!

Our first lecture was by Dr. Luong, about China and the prediction that China will be the dominant superpower of the 21st century. The presentation was very interesting and thorough; it definitely sparked questions about...what will actually happen in the future - the future that our generation will be an important part of.

After lunch, we had another lecture by Dr. Luong about Professional and Personal Etiquette and Social Skills. I loved this presentation the best, and I know that it will be of great use. One main part was about shaking a person's hand. He went over 10 handshakes to avoid and we were able to "practice" by shaking our neighbors' hands. Introductions were another important part, as well as socializing during business events. Lastly, he mentioned the proper manners when dining, such as not to slurp when drinking soup. What I realized during the lecture was the fact that most of the topics he touched on were mentioned in the book, Never Eat Alone! Of course, I also learned how to properly shake hands with someone during my computer Networking class at El Cerrito (from the IT Academy).

For dinner, Yohanna, Stephanie, and I went to a Pizza restaurant near the campus. It was our "break time" and I got a chance to call some of my relatives and friends back at home while waiting for the food. It was a great time to connect back with those at home.

Later that night, the rain came pouring down. Hard. Thunder boomed and the lightning flashed throughout the dark sky and luckily, we were all in a building, listening to another lecture. Some people were in a philosophy session, and others were in the Civil Rights session (like me). Anthony Berryhill was our speaker for Civil Rights and the Grand Strategy behind it.

Afterward, we worked with our groups on our Marshall Brief policy. Speaking of which, tomorrow, the rough draft is due! I must say, I still have much more to write and actually 2 essays due on Sunday. So I will start posting pictures and then be on my way.

By the way, as a compensation for not blogging yesterday, here are some pictures:

On the left: This is me with a new friend (again!). His name is Christopher "Chris" Smiles. He will be a rising Junior at St. Andrew's School in Boca Raton, Florida. Similar to Stephanie, I found out that Chris knows how to play the violin! Stephanie and I met Chris yesterday after we asked him to do us a favor and take a picture of us with the staff (refer to Stephanie's blog for the image). We were very thankful for his help and thus began a new friendship.

On the right is Bryce Adams. He is our "instructor" for the Marshall Brief Policy project. Bryce has been a great help to our project and his amazing knowledge in almost "everything" has surprised me. Bryce graduated Yale in 2008 and was a part of the Ivy Scholars program when he was our age. I hope to learn more about him and from him as we spend more time together in our groups!

This is Stephanie and I in front of the Sterling Memorial Library (this morning, before the rain came). Well, thanks for reading. Bye!

Beginning of Crunch Time

A whole lot has been going on since my previous post. In terms of the Marshall Brief, it's moving along quite quickly. Each team's outline was due at precisely 11:59 pm last night. My group managed to turn it in at 11:50 pm or so. Our rough draft is due tomorrow at 11:59 pm. Additionally, I've got a persuasive speech as well as a writing assignment due on Sunday night. It is, as some have said, CRUNCH TIME.

Yesterday began with a lecture from Dr. Dr. Luong's very own wife, Professor Pauline Luong of Brown University, about the "myth of the resource curse." They brought their twins with them--a girl and a boy--and they're simply adorable!

Following this was lunch and two seminars. I signed up for "Critical Reading and Notetaking" as well as "Written Advocacy." The notetaking session, led by Chelsea Goldstein, taught me how to take quick, handwritten notes during lectures. Using shorthand and uncovering the professor's thesis were two things she greatly emphasized, and the two of which I found the most useful. To put our skills to the test, Chelsea read three articles to us and we took notes on them. After each article, we discussed what we had in our notes and she advised us on what we needed to work on. Candy was given as rewards! Considering my mediocre studying ability, I think Chelsea's workshop was invaluable.

The second seminar was on written advocacy, instructed by Jackie Saffir. Here we discussed the six basic steps to an excellent paper: (1) Draw the reader in, (2) make it relevant to the reader, (3) identify the problem, (4) give context, (5) present a solution, and (6) provide data/statistics/graphs. Following these guidelines, Jackie gave us 15 minutes to write on our Marshall Briefs. After this, we discussed George Orwell's piece, "Politics and the English Language." What I found most interesting was his claim that "modern English" is "of the worst sort." He follows his claim with a parody containing tons of unnecessary, complex language. I realized that I, early in my junior year, tried to ornament my writing with extra tidbits here and there. These days, I try to keep it simple and to the point.

It was through these seminars that I met three new friends (shown above in their respective order): Georgi Klissurski, Rafi Bildner, and Connor Theilmann. I can't remember how exactly I met them... but they're awesome! Jessica and I decided that on our every blog post, we'd introduce a member from the YISP. I think it would interest you readers to know how diverse this program is, and where all of these people are coming from. Anyway, allow me to tell you a little about these silly (and very intelligent) boys:

- Georgi Klissurski is from BULGARIA. Enough said. I feel terrible for saying this, but I didn't get to talk to him about himself. I WILL UPDATE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
- Rafi Bildner, a rising junior, hails from Montclair, New Jersey. He attends Montclair Kimberley Academy, and listen to this: he was an intern during the Obama campaign. Yes, he actually met President Barack Obama!
- Like Rafi, Connor Theilmann is a rising junior. He goes to St. Mark's School of Texas and he's an advanced scuba diver! I had never known a scuba diver prior to yesterday. :)

Oh yeah, Jessica and I got the chance to take a picture with some of the instructors (from left to right): Chelsea, Ben, Bryce (our great Marshall Brief mentor!), Drew, and Jackie. I'm truly thankful that these wonderful people are here to attend to our little problems and to ensure that we get the most out of our experience here at the YISP.

Today followed a similar schedule: a lecture, lunch, two lectures, dinner, and time with our Marshall Brief groups. As I'd previously said, we have a lot of work coming up. We've been here a week and we've got a week to go. Tomorrow morning I will have my first experience with the Yale laundry room. Wish me luck!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Yale Interview

I had my interview with a senior Yale student on Wednesday at 1pm. I had asked my friends in the Ivy Scholars Program how their interviews went, because since it would be my first college interview, I was nervous. They told me not to worry; the interview was quite casual and conversational and the interviewers they had had not been intimidating. Still, while standing in the Yale Admissions Building Lobby, waiting for my name to be called, I was consumed with anxiety. However, that changed when I met my interviewer, Susan.

She bore a friendly smile and made me feel at ease as soon as I sat down in a chair across from her in her office. She asked me to tell her about myself, so I proceeded to explain my background, most especially about my involvement in band and speech and debate at school. From there, she asked me questions such as "What has being a drum major taught you?" and "Can you give me an example of an impromptu speech?". For the former, I elaborated on the valuable skills in leadership, communication, professionalism, and confidence I've gained as being leader of the marching band. For the latter, I gave a short persuasive speech about why Yale should install paper towel dispensers or air hand dryers in their bathrooms. When she was done asking me questions, she asked me what questions I had for her. I asked her "What do Yale students who are interested in attending graduate school for business typically major in? (Yale, like Stanford, doesn't offer an undergraduate major of business). She told me that many major in economics, but many others major in just about anything, like history or comparative science. The question I posted to her that garnered the most interesting response, however, was "What made you fall in love with Yale?". She talked about her experience as a whole, but for a specific answer she described an experience in her sophomore year. Despite being a comparative science major and having no experience in composition, Yale let her write a complete one act play. Not only did Yale let her do it, however. It encouraged her to do so; she gained much guidance while writing the piece and many talented Yale actors readily agreed to act in her play. I loved how this story of hers reflects how Yale is for people with eclectic interests, and besides satisfying your interests in many different fields, it encourages you to do the most that you can with them. I'm not entirely sure about if I did well enough in the interview to greatly increase my chances of acceptance into this wondrous school, but it was definitely a half-an-hour well spent

I Can Not Believe People Do This For a Living

Disclaimer: If you find yourself lost while reading this post, please reference my last post to find out what a Marshall Brief is. Otherwise this will not be a pleasant experience for you.

I'm finding it harder and harder to believe there are people out there that make policies as a profession. Writing this Marshall Brief may be one of the most frustrating/terrifying/confusing/eye-opening things I've ever done. I feel obliged to give an immense amount of respect for whoever has the courage, and the divine patience, to take on the job.
My group got together this morning at a quarter to eight to discuss the fact that our project was compromised, and how cool it was that we thought of a legitimate American foreign policy plan. We decided quickly that we were going to salvage the mega-hours of research that we had already done by proposing a plan to simply switch our plan around in order to incorporate a GMO that will fix the vast malnourishment in India, in lieu of the shortage of food. Of course, as soon as we decided on this strategy, we found out that India already approved a plan to implement Golden Rice when it becomes commercially available in 2011.

After that it seemed every time we thought of a strategy we later came across a piece of information which would render our plan illegitimate. We repeated this process until it got to the point when we agreed that India was doing everything that we could possibly think up for replenishing its food supply. This left only one question for us, "Why are people still starving?!"

What happened next turned out to be a bit of an an eye-opening experience for me. We went to a boardroom in order to meet with our mentor for an hour to discuss what we had so far. In this meeting we confessed that everything we were thinking of was being done already. He simply said "I'll tell you what everyone is told at some point while writing a dissertation, 'Just write it.' You already know plenty about the subject, so make a plan and start writing." What he meant was that we were never going to learn everything about food deficits in India, especially in four days. He advised us to stop researching and come up with a solid plan based on the knowledge we had and that that was all we could do.

I realized that this lesson coincides with the message of a lecture that we heard the other day. The speaker told us about a friend of his that was pulled out of bed in the middle of the nigh to give a briefing at the white house on an issue of national security. This man did not have anymore than a 10 minute car ride to prepare the brief. While he was an expert in the general field he obviously could not have learned all of the facts about the situation in these ten minutes and must have been grossly uninformed while giving a brief that would affect the lives of thousands of people. The speaker went on to explain that this is common practice.

This revelation that even the people creating foreign policies which generally affect millions, if not billions, of lives don't always have all the facts, speaks volumes to me about the potential instability of our world. However, it also instills in me a sense of hope and pride in the natural composition of humanity as a whole. I figure that since the system which creates our policies doesn't protect us from human error, then it must be true that natural human skills are responsible for the fact that we haven't blown ourselves up yet. As sad as it seems, this fact is very encouraging to a growing intellectual, such as myself, who has just listened to a man talk at length about all of the countries that have the capability of blowing the world a couple times each.

I apologize for the lack of information in this post. I thought it might be interesting to take you inside my inner monologue for the day.

Hope all is well on the outside.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Just Another Day Making U.S. Foreign Policy

Today something very interesting happened to my Marshall Briefing group. Right now most of you are probably thinking, "What the heck is a Marshall Briefing group?" I'll try to explain. However, I don't always get it myself so forgive me if it's confusing.

Before we left for the program, each student was supposed to get a list of 14 general policy topics pertaining to the American national politics. We were supposed to number these in order of how interested we were in each. However, seeing as I turned mine in only three days before the program began, I ended up with my 13 choice, "The Global Food Shortage." We found out our topics on the second day and were assigned 4 partners to work with. In our groups we were told to pick a very specific issue related to our field and think up a solution. After this we were to write up an 8-12 page paper explaining how, and why, the United States should implement our policy. This document would go to a panel of distinguished professors and experts in our field. Apparently, this group is commonly called the "Murder Board," because their questions are characteristically somewhat hostile. These individuals read and critique our paper carefully. Later, we give them a briefing on the subject using a short PowerPoint presentation. The Murder Board would ask us questions throughout the presentation as they saw fit.

This project is not as easy as it sounds. Many things can go wrong. Two days ago my group chose the to save the starving peoples of India. As of now, India is experiencing a massive drought due to its delayed monsoon season. After 50 cited and annotated resources were drawn, we felt confident that the best course of action was to give India money to invest in wheat and rice that is genetically modified to be drought resistant. This would increase food production and decrease food costs, which are chronically high at this point. Like everyone else we've spent mega hours of "free time" researching everything we could ever need to know about the different aspects of this policy and figuring out how we are going to apply them to India. We all agreed that we were working at a solid pace and would be able to give a good case to the Murder Board as to why they should accept this plan which we knew had some potential. However, our policy was apparently a bit too good. In fact, not only did it have potential, it had all the requirements to become official American foreign policy. Hours ago Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that upon her return from India the United States will take on a policy to "Strengthen {India's} agricultural yield and improve water/soil resources by supporting research on biotechnology an high-yielding crop varieties including wheat which is resistant to stem rust and rice which is resistant to drought and salinity." In other words the United States, as of today, are enacting the exact same policy that my Marshall Brief group came up with! While I am somewhat amused by this turn of events, I am also somewhat disgruntled that I am quite late right now trying to find a new topic because we have to go back to the drawing board! The briefings are required to be original and not coincide with the status quo of American policy. However, now our entire briefing is in obvious violation of this rule. The report is due on friday at 11:59pm and all I can say at this point is, "Anyone got any bright ideas?"

As always, thanks for reading!

Productive Days

The past two days have definitely been a workout--physically and mentally. As you all know, we have lectures from 9 am-11:30 am, 1 pm-5 pm, and 6:30pm-9:30pm. Excluded are the times spent during breakfast and lunch working on our Marshall Brief presentations. Yes, every morning and afternoon, rather than thoroughly relaxing and enjoying meals, Ivy Scholars are found with laptops on their lunch tables, simultaneously munching on Yale's cafeteria cuisine. While we are all pressed for time, we manage to find some time for small talk (while we're walking to and from class) and I sincerely enjoy creating relationships with these new and intelligent students.

Yesterday began with breakfast and a morning presentation from admissions officer Liz Kinsley and another whose name has slipped my mind. They spoke of the characteristics one must have in order to gain entry into the world-class Yale University. I've only been here since last Friday, and I'm beginning to really love it--with the exception of New Haven security. The excitement the two presenters exuded makes me believe this attitude is emulated by all of the other students at Yale. I'm sure this belief is nothing but the truth.

After lunch, there were two seminars. The first seminar I attended was education policy with Bryce Adams, followed by environmental ethics with Bryce Adams and Benjamin Elkins. Education policy addressed several current issues, from No Child Left Behind, to standardized testing, to teacher certification. 1.2 million Americans fail to graduate each year, and with 60-75% of today's jobs requiring a college degree, problems have inevitably occurred. Environmental ethics was about moral consciousness of the surroundings. It was described in terms of philosophy--biocentrism, ecocentrism, ecological feminism, etc. I'm pressed for time so I won't go too into the two lectures, but those were the basic ideas.

We received a break from lecture after dinner--which, might I add, I had with Mrs. Larson, Yohanna, and Jessica (as shown in the picture)--and instead watched a movie about Robert McNamara, then listened in on the final lecture of the night: an introduction to persuasive speaking and advocacy by Bryce Adams and Chelsea Goldstein. I found the tips very helpful because, as I've repeatedly affirmed, I'm inexperienced in public speaking.

Today began with a speaker whose name shall remained disclosed. For the purpose of security, the content of his lecture will not be revealed either. Anyway, after his lecture we had lunch, then returned to the lecture hall, where Rick Brundage and Dr. Dr. Minh Luong elaborated on the Marshall Briefing essentials. By following the procedures they proposed and explained, all of us should be successful!

For dinner, Jessica, Matt, Mrs. Larson and I went to a restaurant near Drew's Blue State Coffee. There, Mrs. Larson briefly interviewed us--the video is viewable on Mrs. Larson's blog--and we ate a yummy meal.

The day drew to a close with Marshall Policy group meetings. For several hours, my group and I worked on modifying and correcting the gaping holes in our policy/goal. Bryce is a good mentor--he told us what errors we were making, listened to us, and answered our questions. At 9:40, we left to walk back to TD. There was rain, accompanied by thunder and lightning. As a result, Sydney, Jessica and I nearly sprinted--might I add that I was wearing heels and a dress?!--back to the dorms. What a rush!

Before I leave, allow me to introduce you to my new friend, Cason! He has been reading and following our blogs for who knows how long. As a 16-year-old rising Junior, he attends Choate Rosemary Hall, a boarding school in Connecticut (although he hails from Princeton, New Jersey). And a little fun fact: Cason has been tri-varsity since his freshman year! Anyway, I just thought I'd give a little shout out to him for following our blog!

It's fairly late and I've got to get to reading. Good night and I hope to blog soon.

Marshall Brief Lectures and Work Time

Hello everyone! I am sorry I did not have a chance to blog yesterday. It was a busy day full of lectures (besides our food "breaks") and had assignments afterward. On the other hand, today was much more relaxed than I thought it would be. My day started at 6:30 am, which I extended from waking up at 6:00 am. My group mates and I met at 7:45 and walked to breakfast. By 9:00 am, we were at the lecture hall (Rosenfeld Hall) to listen to Edward "Ted" Wittenstein speak. (Due to his high status, I would recommend reading his biography online). It was definitely a pleasure having him take the time to speak to us and I learned a lot not only about him, but about what I should be thinking about for the future.

For lunch, Stephanie and I went with a few friends to a deli place called Gourmet Heaven. There, we bought sushi to go and went back to our dorm (Timothy Dwight) and ate. It was very fun because we found out that Ryan, the student whom first commented on our blog from another state, had never had sushi before. The hilarious part came when my friend dipped the sushi into soy sauce mixed with wasabi. (In my opinion, that was not a great way to try sushi for the first time!) After we finished eating, we went to the library to research more on for our Marshall Brief Policy project. It was semi-successful, and yet the day just kept getting better.

We had two lectures, after lunch, that were very important for our presentation. The first was spoken by Rick Brundage on Policy Brief Writing. His lecture is pretty self-explanatory: he gave us a step by step procedure on how to write our policy brief. These tips were very helpful; not only were we told to know our topics and resources, but I also learned that we should be very simple and organized (hence the word "brief" in the name of the project).

The second lecture was a discussion held by Professor Minh Luong about skills to help us during the presentation. These included tips about preparation, practicing, and speaking. I am actually glad that I had experience with PowerPoint at El Cerrito High, for our group decided to make one. I must say that I am much more confident with my technical skills than I would have imagined.

After the lectures, Yohanna, Stephanie and I planned on going out to dinner; however, plans changed after we ran into Ms. Larson. When we began walking to find a restaurant, it was only me, Ms. Larson, Matt, and Stephanie. Though we tried contacting Yohanna, we could not get a hold of her. This was when the video came into play that Ms. Larson posted. I found it very entertaining indeed. Unfortunately, I did not get a chance to take any pictures of us; but I do have pictures of more friends that I will post at the end of the blog!

The best part I enjoyed was the 3 hours we got to spend working on our Marshall Brief Project. It is really disappointing that we are missing a member, but I hope that Huong will be able to join us soon. Other than that, we accomplished much more than we have before tonight. Stephanie, Sydney, Angie, and I were very focused and tried to get our policy straight. By 9:30 pm, we were well on our way. Though a lot of the other groups are "ahead", I am sure that ours will be creative and interesting. (Our topic relates to creating a curriculum to interrelate math with science subjects. I will definitely go more into depth as we research more).

Well, I have lots of reading to do but I wanted to blog just in case I am busy tomorrow. Here are some pictures from today:

This picture to the left is Stephanie and our new friend, Cason Crane. He is from New Jersey and really fun to hang around. He goes to a boarding school here in Connecticut and will be a Junior in the fall.

To the right is Stephanie again with one of our group members: Angie Cho. Angie goes to school in New York and will be a Senior this year like us! Behind them is Cason again and John Grammer from NYC.

This picture is my favorite. It was actually taken with Stephanie's camera, by our other group member, Sydney. We were meeting for our Marshall Brief Policy presentation and were enjoying the night together. Something happened to be funny, and the four of us spent a while laughing until our stomachs hurt. We had a great time tonight even though we have a lot of reading to do now...

Everyday, I have met more and more students and staff. It is truly amazing.

Though I wish we would have more breaks available, I am glad that I have plenty of friends to support me here and that I can relate to. This course is definitely a challenge, but by building relationships, I am making my way once again towards a world full of companions and a path to success!

Thanks for reading!

Ivy Scholars Day 4

Peabody Museum of Natural History
Rosenfeld Hall- this is where the Ivy Scholars have most of their lectures.

Sterling Memorial Library

Rare books in the Beineke library

Beineke Rare Book and Manuscript Library

It's been another great day on the Yale campus. I was fortunate enough to run into Stephanie, Jessica and Matt on my way back from the Peabody Museum and we had an hour to grab dinner. They seem to be in good spirits and are adapting to the rigor of their classes. So far, so good! We will keep you all posted!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Today we participated in two different seminars of our choosing. While I thought I was signed up for the "Time Management and Study Skills" and "Winston Churchill's Grand Strategy" seminars, I was actually signed up for "Time Management and Study Skills" and "Written Advocacy." While I was a bit frustrated that I did a lot of preparation reading, for Churchill's seminar, and did not get a whole lot of tangible profit from it, the frustration quickly melted away as I entered the Yale classroom and began to clear my mind and listen to the brilliant words of the instructor's.

My first seminar was on time management and study skills. However, we mostly learned about note taking. We learned how to "flow" an argument. This basically means writing down a fast-read argument extremely quickly using a combination of techniques such as the application of shorthand, symbols, and structure to your notes. We learned that we can use, and should, use this method not only for debating, but for every set of notes we take. This method seems like it is be extremely helpful to my note taking in the future.

The second seminar, although it did not discuss the demigod known as Winston Churchill, did have some good things to say on written advocacy. However, I had already learned what she was talking about from a teacher at El Cerrito! El Cerrito High School teaching the same methods as Yale? Score 1 for public education. The method was to be sure to avoid convoluting your essays with "meaningless words," as George Orwell would out it. The instructor asked us to read a George Orwell excerpt which condemned the disenfranchisement of the English language. He asserts that English rhetoric and literature has devolved into a convoluted mess used by politicians and writers alike. This convolution, Orwell asserts, is due to the surplus of meaningless words, usually adjectives, in the current use of the English language. he says that to illustrate your point more fully you have to show the reader that your argument is correct by techniques such as citing data or giving examples. This works much more effectively than simply telling someone your argument and backing it only with an adjective that solely represents your individual bias. For example, "The awesome Winston Churchill.. " does not prove anything about the awesomeness (yes, "awesomeness" somehow passes spellcheck as a legitimate word) of Churchill and the adjective "awesome" is a "meaningless word." However, if you say "Winston Churchill is awesome because he poses for pictures while holding Tommy guns and smoking cigars." you have illustrated your point using examples and given your argument more legitimacy. This is one of the most important rules of writing that I have leaned so far and I can not thank Mr. Jepson (AP Literature teacher at ECHS) enough for the valuable lesson.

We got a break tonight and got to watch a biography on Robert McNamara and study in our Marshall Briefing groups. However, I know you would disappointed if I told you we went through all this trouble to get me here and I have nothing to do at 2 o'clock in the morning. You guessed, I have to get back to studying and doing some "homework."

Thanks for reading!

Up Close with a Yale Admissions Officer

Dinner with the girls at Temple Street Grill (Matt decided to stay and eat at the Dining Hall)

Greetings! Yesterday I had the opportunity to sit down with the Northern California Undergraduate Admissions Officer, Alex Richardson. He happens to be a graduate of Yale himself so I feel very fortunate to have been able to pick his brain about what Yale looks for in a prospective student. Alex was very amiable and quite engaging. We left the hustle and bustle of the quite crowded Admissions Office and retreated to a more quiet coffee shop close by. Here is what I gathered:

Financial Aid- Annual tuition is roughly $50,000 a year and that includes everything- room and board, books, classes, etc. The good news is that there is financial aid available. Families earning less than $60,000 annually will not make any contributions toward the cost of their child's education. Families earning $60,000 to $120,000 annually will typically contribute 1% to 10% of total family income. The contribution of aided families earning above $120,000 annually will average 10% of family income. 65% of the student population has some sort of financial aid.

What does Yale look for in prospective incoming freshmen? As in all top-notch Ivy League schools, Yale is looking at a number of components: strong SAT/ACT scores (average SAT score is at least 680 and higher says Alex), good grades, transcript (AP/Honors classes, challenging courses throughout high school career), and strong and personal letter of recommendation. Alex strongly recommends that students have teachers/counselors write letters of recommendation who truly know the student and it shows in the letter.

Student Essay- Alex really emphasized that students put a great deal of effort and their own personality in the college application essays. Not everyone will have a "challenging obstacle that they overcome that has made them who they are today" and that is okay. However, just be yourself and let it shine through in your essay. Why do YOU feel like you will be a good fit at Yale? What makes you stand apart from the rest of your peers? Be yourself! That is truly all they want.

Interview- Our Ivy Scholars are fortunate enough to practice their interview skills with Yale seniors this week and next and are really getting a feel for what the true interview would be like. Alex reiterated that while the interview is important, it is not everything they look at. He kept it simple: "Be yourself, be prepared, and give good eye contact." Really, these were some of the things he highlighted. Go into the interview knowing as much as you can about that particular school. It's like any job interview you'll have. You need to show the interviewer that you are prepared and are truly interested in them otherwise you are wasting their time. Have thoughtful questions to ask (questions that can't be answered on their website!!)

A few other important facts-
  • Yale will fly admitted students in who fall under the $0-$60,000 annual income in April after they are admitted for a brief orientation, welcome, etc.
  • Students must declare their major by the end of their sophomore year
  • Student to Professor ratio is 7-1
  • Students have the opportunity to "shop for classes" prior to making any final decisions on classes they want to take. They can try out classes and then decide what they want to take!
  • A few of the main attractions in New Haven to Yale students are the Shubert Center for the Performing Arts and Yale's Peabody Museum of Natural History. There is also the Yale Art Gallery and the Yale Center for British Art.
  • New York City is just 70 miles south and is 120 miles south of Boston giving students an opportunity to visit these major metropolitan cities.

Yale's ultimate goal is "the creation of a well-rounded freshman class, one that includes not only well-rounded individuals but also students whose achievements in one or several areas is extraordinary."

When I asked Alex if he had any final words of advice to our young, aspiring students he said, "Tell them to find their passion in life and be sure to maintain balance."

There it is, you guys. Find your passion. Who cares what Suzy Lou is doing who sits next to you in AP Lit. What do you love to do? What excites you? What could you do every day if you had the opportunity to do so?

I hope this has been helpful. I was able to have a meal and check-in with the girls tonight. Matt stayed behind at the dining hall. As you can see by the times they are posting their blogs, these guys are staying up LATE trying to get all of their work done. Their priorities are in the classes and assignments at hand and therefore they will be posting photos and blogs only when they have "spare time" to do so. We don't want this interfering with their coursework or stressing them out.

Matt, Jessica, Stephanie and Yohanna are doing quite well and are learning so much every day. I can honestly say that they are truly benefiting from this wonderful experience. Good night for now!

Late NIght

Hey everybody. It is quite late right now and I just finished reading a 144 page compilation of works on the Grand Strategy of the British Empire and Winston Churchill. I still have some research to do so forgive me for making this post somewhat brief. I promise to catch you up later.

Before lunch today we did something other than attend a lecture! Unfortunately this activity was visiting a library. However, while I was a bit disappointed at first, my apprehension vanished when I found out that Yale's library happens to be the second biggest among American universities. We ended up with a Yale library card and a tour and it turned out to be an excellent experience.

After this tease of a fun and exciting activity, we got to attend another six and a half hours of lecture! I guess they decided that to much fun in one day would be a shock to our systems. However, yet again, Yale did not cease to amaze me in that I truly enjoyed every bit of the different lectures. They taught extremely practical lessons on topics such as morality and ethical philosophies, public policy making, and psychological persuasion. Everything that I've been taught here so far are things I can't wait to study more in college.

I'm trying to soak up as much as this as I can and despite the lack of sleep, or maybe due to its affects on my judgement, I have really been enjoying and just generally appreciating my opportunity at Yale.

Sorry again for the brevity of this post but I have to go to sleep at some point. I promise to make it up later.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Picture time!

Hi Everyone! I hope you do not mind if I post pictures for today. It is currently 1:15 A.M. and like Stephanie mentioned, we have lots of work to do. Thus, I thought that instead, I could share pictures of these past couple days. I have not been able to get a full group picture of my roommates and my Marshall Brief Policy group but when I do, I will introduce all of them.

Today, we went to visit the library to get our library cards (which expires the day the program ends, on August 9th). While we were waiting, I took some pictures!It seems like Ms. Larson is enjoying her cup of coffee while advertising for Dunkin Donuts!
This is a recent friend of mine. Her name is Huong. She is from VIETNAM! I am very glad to have met her, and I am shocked at how much she knows about America and politics. Her English is also pretty fluent! Huong is actually part of my (and Stephanie's) Marshall Brief Policy group. She is very helpful and though she is currently sick, we can always count on her for advice and knowledge.
Of course, you cannot forget about Yohanna. Here she is in the library, trying to keep quiet but still having lots of fun!

After the five of us (Ms. Larson, Stephanie, Huong, Yohanna, and I) received our library cards, we went to tour the big library. Below is a picture of the Starr Main Reference Room. It was very beautiful and of course, very quiet.
The last 3 photos are of Stephanie and me. The other pictures I took with Yohanna and Matt in it were blurry, so I decided not to put them in. I hope to take better pictures soon. Enjoy!

(I am still working on how to take pictures so please stay with me when it comes to faces being cut off). The one on the top left is when we were still in the library. Of course, we were there to "study", and not take pictures...The one on the bottom right side is a location near the library, though the building the background is not it. Lastly, the photo on the bottom left is my best shot of the both of us with the library in the background. From what Ms. Larson told us, the library building was painted and designed to LOOK old. They even pretended to leave "statue marks" to portray the idea that the statues were "stolen" before. I found that very interesting!

Well, I hope you enjoyed viewing these pictures. I am sorry I did not get a chance to talk about what we did today, but Stephanie did a great job of summarizing our day. I hope that tomorrow I will have more time to blog and add more pictures. Thanks for "viewing"!

Social Contract Theory

Today, we visited and gained access to the beautiful Sterling Library and had four more lectures. In one of these lectures, Dean Nick Coburn-Palo continued his lesson on An Overview to Studying Philosophy at Ivy Scholars by explaining the social contract theory and how it was interpreted by Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. A social contract is an agreement among people to form a government in order to protect claims available to them under natural law. Natural law is defined as God's law of the jungle, or how we ought to or do live. Two more definitions are necessary to understand a social contract. Natural rights are what individuals are inherently due as human beings because of natural law. The state of nature is the implicit comparison between a society with government or with no government.

Hobbes believes that the state of nature is barbarous, rather, it is a state of war. People are self-absorbed liars and are basically animals. The only natural right in this society is the right to be able to avoid one's own death. Therefore, an absolute government is necessary for this social contract to function. It would be ruled by a sovereign who had complete power. This kind of belief was acceptable (although it would be seen as extremely radical today) because it was written in a time of monarchies.

Locke, on the other hand, believes that people are basically good, but to become truly efficient we must unite as a functional society with a social contract. He believes in the natural rights of life, liberty, and property. The type of government is determined by the people because he believes in the consent of the governed. However, instead of ending there, he controversially explains that when the government infringes upon the natural rights of the people then the people have the obligation to revolt.

Rousseau believes that our state of nature was the ideal environment we now long for. However, we abandoned it when we abandoned our ability to share. Natural rights are the right to competition, which separates an individual's will from the general will of the people. He thinks that a legislature is ideal for the type of government, because a members of the legislature temporarily puts individual will on hold in order to push for general will. Dean Coburn-Palo pointed out that Rousseau would probably be horrified by our legislative system today, which bursts at the seams with lobbyists and such. He also explained that Marx believes exactly what Rousseau believes, except he disagrees about not being able to return to our original state of nature. He believes that socialism will wean us off capitalism to the point where we can achieve this primitive but ideal ability to share.

I'm sorry that I don't have time to share other things I learned today, but I really need to go to sleep. Thanks for reading this and goodnight!

Yale Library & Lecture

Good evening, readers!

As I said yesterday, my blogs may be fairly short. It's already 12:11 am and I have over 100 pages of reading in addition to an abstract for my group's Marshall Brief project and a bibliography for it as well. We've pretty packed schedules, but I'm somehow enjoying myself as well. Fun!

Today we went to the Yale University Library. It's GORGEOUS and HUGE. We got our own temporary library card--one I'll keep forever. Next, Jessica, Sydney, Angie, Huong and I took a self-guided tour of the library. Unfortunately I did not bring my camera with me, but Jessica did. She will probably post some pictures later on. We explored the music library as well as the book stack rooms. The library is enormous and it's easy to get lost. There are thousands of books and tons of information waiting to be read. If only I could read them all!

We had four lectures today: The International State System and its Enemies by Dr. Ted Bromund, Introduction to Public Policy and Governance by Rick Brundage, Critical Thinking and Analytical Strategies by Dean Nick Coburn-Palo, and Psychology and Persuasion by Professor Anthony Berryhill. I found the second and fourth lectures to be of the most interest, but I'll blog about public policy.

Public policy, as defined by Brundage, is the government's "statement of objectives, incentives, and regulations intended to guide or constrain behavior to accomplish a particular goal." Government is justified to intervene in several circumstances in regards to public goods, externalities, economic stability, failure of competition, and redistribution. I have not the time to discuss each of these topics, so I'll touch on public commodities. There are two types of these: general public goods, which are non-exhaustible [the availability does not decrease with consumption], and common pool resources, which are exhaustible and are non-excludable [available to all]. Common pool resources, such as whales, may become under-supplied and over-consumed because of their non-excludability. Thus, the government must intervene by regulating the extraction of these resources [whales in this case].

Although there was much more to this lecture, I must get going now. Reading and homework await me. My apologies for the brevity!

P.S. Get well soon, Don! We all wish you a safe recovery.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Yale and the view from within the walls

Stephanie, Jessica and Matt in between lectures

Yale Photos

Sterling Library

The "lucky foot" of Theodore Dwight Woolsey, elected President of Yale in 1846. He was a huge supporter of the crew team back then and pushed the team off to race with his foot. The team won every time he did this which is why they said he had a "lucky golden foot." Students to this day rub his golden foot for good luck. Mrs. Kronenberg, Mr. Ramsey and I all rubbed it while passing by.

The first dorm at Yale University

These past few days have been fantastic. The students, Mr. Ramsey, Mrs. Kronenberg and I have been making the most of our time since we arrived on Friday. As the students have expressed in their blogs, we began our day early on 7/24 arriving at ECHS before 4am. After a long and tiring journey east with a connecting flight in Chicago, we touched down in Hartford, CT with out driver awaiting us.

Matt, Jessica, Stephanie and Yohanna were the first of the Ivy Scholars to check-in to their residence halls and as they mentioned, realized immediately that they would be needing fans! The humidity hit us hard the moment we got out of the van! After the students checked in, we met Mrs. Kronenberg and Mr. Ramsey for dinner at Zinc's for a lovely dinner. By the end of the meal, we were all feeling the many hours of travel and lack of sleep wearing on us. We walked the students back to the dorms and headed back to the hotel for a much needed night's rest. That night, two things I noticed were the lightning storm out my window with the tapping of the rain along with the sound of sirens down below. That was another thing that stood out in our minds right away was the huge presence of the police force patrolling the Yale campus. The interesting thing was there really isn't a major divide or separation from the community or outside neighborhoods and the Yale campus. However, all of the residential buildings, lecture halls, libraries, etc. area ll completely enclosed and it is virtually impossible to get in unless you have access. How do we know this? Mrs. Kronenberg, Mr. Ramsey and I tried!

As the students mentioned, yesterday's tours of Connecticut College and Wesleyan were great and I believe they gained a lot from this. Wesleyan seemed to be the favorite of the two but for obvious reasons. It is a top tier school and it truly showed. I personally enjoyed the tour at Wesleyan more simply because there were students on campus and there was a lot going on while Connecticut College was a ghost town and the only people were caught a glimpse of were in a wedding party posing for pictures!

The students had their orientation last night after dinner where they were quite impressed after being introduced to their professors, classmates and the director of the Ivy Scholars, Professor Minh Luong. After speaking with them and reading their blogs from last night, the students all went to bed feeling excited and eager to begin this Yale experience after several weeks of anticipation. At the same time, they also realize that this is intense and is probably one of the most rigorous (if not the most) in the country. What a great experience for them!

Matt, Jessica, Stephanie and Yohanna began their day today bright and early with breakfast and their first lecture at 9am. Mrs. Kronenberg, Mr. Ramsey and I went on a tour of Yale this afternoon and then met up with the students for their 3:00 lecture with Professor Hennigan on Political Ideologies. The tour of campus was great (though hot and humid!) and we were taken aback at the mere beauty of these buildings and the architecture itself. One of the architects of Sterling Library actually poured acid on the outside of the building to make it appear older than it really was. He also purposely left space where a statue or figure could be placed so that it would appear that the building had been tampered with...again for the appearance that the building was old.

All of the buildings are completely closed off and are surrounded by walls, gates, locks ensuring safety for students and staff from the crime that hides in the shadows on the streets of New Haven. As Mr. Ramsey mentioned yesterday, Yale could be in the middle of the Iron Triangle, that is the feel this place has and it is surreal for such a prestigious, top notch university.

Some facts about Yale that stuck out the most were:

  • Yale was first called "The Collegiate School" before being called Yale

  • Yale means to cultivate mind, body and heart

  • The unofficial slogan for Yale is- "For God, for country and for Yale" Nathan Hale said this. He was America's first spy and was an undergraduate at Yale. He ended up being caught and hung in New York City in his twenties.

  • 5,000 undergrads and 5,800 graduate students

  • There are over 12 million books spread out among the libraries at Yale.There are 4 million alone at Sterling Library!

The first night and the first full day at Yale

My Ivy Scholars experience began with an orientation that, in true Ivy League fashion, went beyond just explaining the rules and expectations. Besides hearing Professor Luong and Dean Coburn-Palo give essay-long introductions for each other and extend warm welcomes to us students, they informed us of the reality of the rigor of the program. We would be given documents to read before each lecture, we would have Marshall Brief presentations, we would exercise our public speaking skills, and most intimidatingly, the all-star faculty (nearly all of them are national debate champions and experts of the program and grand strategy) would rank us students from 1-70 on the last day. This list would place students that performed exceptionally at the top and students that would be "black-listed" (meaning they exhibited awful behavior and their names would be passed on to other Ivy League schools as students that should not be accepted) would be on the very bottom. That announcement certainly elicited simultaneous gasps and looks of horror throughout the room. Definitely we would all be on our best behavior for the next two weeks. Yes, the Yale Ivy Scholars program will take hard work and discipline but will be the experience of a lifetime.

The rigor I experienced on Saturday night intensified today, our first full day at Yale. In the morning we were given a lecture by Professor Luong on two topics, Defining Grand Strategy and Developing Intellectual and Analytical Methodologies. In Defining Grand Strategy, he explained that there is no official definition for the term "grand strategy" because there are so many things it encompasses (one of the Yale professors that found the grand strategy program wrote a DEFINITION many pages long) and the founders of the concept cannot agree upon one. However, there is a concise working definition which is used as the unofficial definition of grand strategy, "The calculated relationship between means and large ends.” Next, Professor Luong explained specific terms in the definition in depth. The overall concept, he explained, is for leaders to possess the capability of seeing the big picture.

The next lecture, Developing Intellectual and Analytical Methodologies was equally as interesting. Professor Luong taught us to be "master learners" in Ivy Scholars by doing things such as understanding the goals of each lecture/seminar, forming correlations, and questiong assumptions. He also explained how grand strategy applies to nearly every subject, more concisely, it is interdisciplinary. For example, math gives us necessary quantitative skills and art gives us the imagination to innovate [ideas, strategies, etc.]. He went on to cover many other topics, but what I found especially useful (and hilarious) was his explanation of how to ask questions and how not to ask questions. We learned that we must make our questions necessary, concise, fair, and audible in order to avoid earning the less-than-sought-after titles of "sycophant" (flatterer), "shot gunner" (asks many unrelated questions), "peacock" (tries to prove that one is better than the speaker), or "wanderer" (rambler).

After lunch, we were give two more lectures from Professor Luong (this man has an incredible surplus of energy and intellect) and one from Professor Hennigan. Professor Luong's lecture, Principles of Leadership, taught us that we to be effective--so called "Level 5"--leaders, we must be full of integrity, courage, loyalty, compassion, and self control; know our goal, profession, self, and subordinates; and do things such as seek respect and work to the task not the clock. His next lecture, Sun Tzu and The Art of War: Lessons for Leadership, elaborated and reviewed concepts presented in The Art of War. I thoroughedly enjoyed this lecture as much as I enjoyed reading that ancient Chinese book of wisdom and victory. The following lecture of Professor Hennigan was titled Political Ideologies: The Wide World of "-isms". Although we only were able to cover liberalism, Marxism, the end of history thesis, and nationalism, I liked this lecture because it was mainly driven around student participation. Here, I witnessed the vast collective knowledge of my Ivy Scholar peers.

After dinner, we had a lecture by Dean Coburn-Palo called An Overview to Studying Philosophy at Ivy Scholars. I loved his light-hearted but deeply informative approach to philosophy. He taught us many things such as deontology (belief that actions are good or bad based on outcome) v. teleology (belief that actions are good or bad based on intent and process), social contract, positive rights v. negative rights, and comprehensive and accesible resources for philosophy. The dean also elaborated on Morality and Utilitarianism.

We concluded the night with establishing our Marshall Brief groups, which are groups composed of five members that would create a 8-12 page paper and prepare a presentation to combat a problem on specific topic (it reminds me of policy debate without a debate). We are expected to define a problem and devise a solution to it. We would be judged by true leaders in public policy. My group focuses on diplomacy and international conflict and we decided upon the topic, "How can we prevent Afghanistan from becoming a failed state?". We have assignments periodically due during the week. Tomorrow night we must have 4-5 resources each on our topic, so now I'm going to commence learning about Afghanistan demographics and NGOs (non-governmental organizations)!

I'm posting all the notes I take from the lectures here:

First Day at Yale


My day began at 8:20 am today. Unfortunately, they do not serve breakfast on the weekends, so I skipped. On the bright side, I slept in for an hour.

Morning lecture began at 9 am this morning with Professor Luong. He started with the concept of grand strategy. Apparently, there is no universally accepted definition of the term. While Paul Kennedy has written pages and pages on the phrase's meaning, Dr. Dr. Luong summed grand strategy up in a single sentence: "the calculated relationship between means and large ends." This differs from the normal term "strategy" in various ways. It is a flexible, planned outcome connected through military capability, time, and financial means, and it also includes an implementation process.

Next we learned the principles of leadership. They are summarized in three words: Be, Know, Do. Leaders must be of great character, possessing integrity, courage, humility, loyalty, and compassion. They must know their goal, their profession, their subordinates, and, most importantly, themselves. Finally they must do things for the better of their people, seeking respect rather than popularity and encouraging initiative. I definitely have to agree with Mr. Luong's lecture, particularly the qualities one must have to be an effective leader. Most of these characteristics are found in Genghis Khan, the Mongol leader. He shows compassion and loyalty for those who return the favor. Not one of his commanders betrayed him; therefore, each of them were treated the same. They were showered in luxuries and much, much more. As for courage, Khan never showed fear, though he probably was afraid at some points throughout his reign. During these frightful times, however, he functioned and did what was needed to be done. In terms of integrity, Khan managed to follow his set of values--kill those who do not submit to defeat!

We took a brunch break and then it was back to the lecture room. Dr. Dr. Luong taught us about the important point in Sun Tzu, which need not be stated because I have spoken about it before. After a 20 minute break, Professor David Hennigan lectured on political ideologies. Everybody raised their hands to voice their opinion, but I had little or no knowledge on the discussed topics: welfare liberalism, classical liberalism, social democracy, and Marxism. I realized how well-educated these students are. I really tried to comprehend the discussion, but it was very difficult and new to me. Seeing as this is only the first official day of class, I'm sure I will adjust within a few days.

Next, seminar sign-ups were available. We all had to take our dinner time to sign up, which upset me because the dining hall is a 10-15 minute walk from the dorms. After signing up for seminars, Jessica and I walked to the dining hall, almost getting lost on the way. Yale is a rather large campus but exploration never hurts! We waited in a long line of students to get our food, ate in a quick 5-10 minutes, and walked as fast as we could to the lecture hall--we arrived just on time.

Dean Nick Coburn-Palo lectured this time about philosophy. We learned about utilitarianism and its several branches. Utilitarianism is philosophic view based off the outcome of a situation rather than the situation's initial intent or purpose. The three basic philosophers of utilitarianism include Jeremy Betham, James Mill, and John Stuart Mill. Jeremy Betham was the initial founder, who believed that pleasure is equivalent to morality. In other terms, as said by Dean Nick Coburn-Palo, when having to choose between a waving, hot celebrity and an old woman who had just fallen while walking across the street, the decisions are of equal worth (pleasure = morality). This lecture was probably my favorite of the day. By incorporating humor into his presentation, I was able to understand the concepts better and I was much more attentive. Also, the enthusiasm in the Dean's voice makes me ultra eager to learn!

Before the day was over, we were split into our Marshall Brief groups and sent to rooms. The Marshall Briefs are policies to be presented to top-notch officials in the United States. We are assigned to topics based off of our choice on the preference form. My topic is education, and I'm in a group with Jessica, Sydney, Angie, and Huong. In addition to this very intimidating, hardcore assignment, we're required to participate in one writing and two speech competitions. I'm terrified, but my fear was slightly alleviated when I was told we weren't going to receive a grade or anything. We're here for experience and improvement!

It looks like my schedule is going to be very packed--everyone's is. I may write shorter and shorter blogs if that's the case, and I'm sorry if I do. Thanks for reading and see you tomorrow!

Quadruple Lecture Day

Sunday's word of the day at Yale University is "lectures." We had about eight and a half hours of lectures today. It is true that we got to take some time out for brunch and dinner, however, someone decided that breakfast was an unnecessary luxury. This I was actually glad for because we were up late doing readings for a lecture today. Despite the sheer amount of lecturing being a bit unfortunate the content was really very good.

The first lecture, which was given before lunch, was taught by Dr. Minh Luong and pertained to Grand Strategy's overall definition, or the lack thereof. Dr. Luong stated that even among its top professors Grand Strategy has no universally accepted definition. The best definition he could give us is that Grand Strategy teaches students to gain an education which allows them to run around and cover many different areas, like a fox, but also to be able to dive deeply into these different areas with the tenacity of a specialist, this trait is attributed to be like hedgehog. This definition is shown on the Grand Strategy logo which has a fox and a hedgehog looking outward. The lecture was compelling because it was all about all the qualities which any leader should have in order to lead effectively. He spoke about the level 5 leader. a level 5 leader is the best of the best and has the ability to do great things. This kind of leader, Dr. Luong explained, is humble in manner but tenacious inside and has a rock solid will. He argued that the humble leader will be able to focus more on his goal and less on himself, allowing him to focus on what needs to be done and not get distracted. I agree with this ideology to a certain extent but also believe that, in reality, reserved leaders are not always able to motivate as well as those who lead gallantly as examples through hard times, rather than staying behind the curtain.

The second lecture was a straightforward summary of the main ideas of the Art of War. We spent a lot of time on the first lecture so this one had to be more brief but I still immensely enjoyed the opportunity to have the ancient text unveiled to me by an expert in international studies and, consequently, conflict. For me, this really brought together the main ideas of the text and allowed me to understand its overall message much more fully.

The third lecture was on classical and welfare liberalism. We learned and discussed a ton about how these previous ideologies have affected ideologies proceeding it and which appear today in our different modern day societies. We decided that the classical liberals who heavily favored hands off government had influenced conservative America the most while its successor, welfare liberalism, preceded and most influenced modern day democrats. I was a bit confused on exactly where capitalists draw the line on government intervention. The question was, "Why do classical liberals see government involvement in 'criminal matters' as just but not government involvement in other issues of general interest such as curbing monopolies and stopping injustices and inequality in the economy?" It was something like that.

The last lecture was on basic philosophy. It would take me days to explain what this professor taught in a couple of hours but if it helps at all this is the surface glance at what we covered. The ideologies behind the philosophies of Teleology vs. Deontology, Positive rights vs. Negative rights, Normative Utilitarianism vs. Descriptive Utilitarianism, and Act vs. Rule. We then learned about the creators of three philosophies, namely Emmanuel Kant, James Mill, Jeremy Bentham, and John Stuart Mill. In our discussion we also learned how to better attack philosophy when it is assigned. Through both tricks of the trade and a couple helpful methodologies we learned how to break down theologies quickly and extract the main ideas. I loved this lecture. I'm astonished by how much I learned in such a short amount of time and am curious to see what it would be like if I get the chance to take this course for an entire semester!

So, in short, the answer is, "yes", the bark of the staff had some bite in their activities today. I'm excited to see how the rest of the week is going to pan out. I think we are holding up well and hopefully we will do fine in the rest of the program. I'll be back tomorrow with more information. Hopefully there will more physical activities to talk about. As always, thanks for reading!

P.S. Sorry I didn't have any photos yet again. I didn't go get my camera back until around 10:00 pm.

What A Way to Start!

Wow. What a day. I began by waking up at 6:15, though classes didn't start until 9:00. Though today was only our first day of lectures and group meetings, we already had reading assigned to us last night. Since I could not finish the required 130 pages of reading last night, I woke up earlier. This did prove successful, and though it was tiring during lectures, I am glad I understood some of the topics involved.

The first lecture at 9:00 was delivered by Dr. Luong. He spoke about Grand Strategy, Leadership, and even discussed one book we had to read: Sun Tzu's The Art of War. In my opinion, Dr. Luong's lecture was very informative from beginning to end. Since it is really difficult to incorporate everything onto this blog (especially because we just started a group project today), I will point out what I thought was important.

He first starts out by defining what Grand Strategy is; though he does mention that there is no "universally accepted definition of Grand Strategy". An overall "compromise" for the definition is "the calculated relationship between means and large ends." He then goes over the definition of calculated, means, and large ends. "Calculated" is said to be planned/analyzed; "means" are the resources available, especially time; and "large ends" are the final result/outcomes. Dr. Luong then talks about how to become a Grand Strategist, including skills such as asking questions, finding relationships between ideas, and evaluating ideas.

Another important factor he stressed was the idea of having an intellectual mind. This means that you should accept the fact that you do not know everything. In addition, Dr. Luong taught us about the three "Essences of Leadership": BE, KNOW, and DO. (BE a leader; KNOW yourself/your subordinates/your goals; DO seek respect/lead by example, etc.)

There is so much information that Dr. Luong shared with us, and I am glad I had my laptop as well as a notebook to take notes. (My laptop eventually ran out of battery...). After a 2 1/2 hour lecture, we had Brunch (we didn't have breakfast...instead students were reading the 130 pages that were assigned or going out to buy breakfast). Brunch was 1 1/2 hours but time seemed to fly by really quickly during our "break". Next, we had two lectures, one from Dr. Luong again about the book, The Art of War (which he read when he was only 11!). He went over the main ideas and mentioned the Sage Commander's "Qualifications". The most important qualification was Wisdom. This not only includes knowledge, but also the ability to analyze what is going on around you, and being an expert about tactics.

A little after Dr. Luong presented, we heard from Professor David Hennigan, whom talked about Political Ideologies and "isms" (specifically Liberalism, Marxism, and a little about Nationalism). What I was very shocked about was the major participation made by the students. Unfortunately, this was where I lacked knowledge since I did not take AP Euro. Though I did pick up some information because I took AP U.S. History, I could not come up with questions to ask; not to mention, I was a little lost throughout the lecture. I did learn from many students though and realized how much they knew. Everywhere around the room, someone would raise their hand, either to contribute to the discussion or to ask a question. After this point, I definitely realized how engaged my fellow "classmates" were. I have not met so many enthusiastic students before, and I am really excited about what is to come next on our long list of lectures. I hope that by the end of the 2 weeks, I will be able to join them and ask questions too!

The next lesson was taught by Dean Nick Coburn-Palo, who spoke about Philosophy. He actually retired as a philosophy teacher at Yale, but we are lucky enough to have him speak to us as a part of the program. I found his lecture very interesting and received tips about reading philosophy and learned about many philosophers, including Kant, Hume, Bentham, and Mill. We went over many terms that defined different perspectives about morality. The last subject was the longest one we talked about and it was probably the most complex (in my opinion). Utilitarianism defines morality as whatever "brings the most pleasure and avoids the most pain". Though that might not sound that complicated, there are three types of Utilitarianism: Narrative vs. Descriptive, Act vs. Rule, and Egoistic vs. Universalistic. That was where I began to lose track so I will just continue on with what we did next.

After the long lecture, we went to another building and split up into groups. These groups are who we will be spending time with for most of our 2 weeks. At the end of the program, we will be presenting a Marshall Brief Policy to a few highly educated professors and scholars who will listen to our policy idea and test how much we know about our topic. My topic (which we were able to choose before attending) is Education in the Developing World. Our mentor's name is Bryce and he seems like a challenging mentor. I am definitely up for the challenge though I must say I am already quite shocked at how much work we have to do.

I will try to take a picture of all of us soon, but unfortunately, our topic is due tomorrow as well as 5 sources that I have not collected yet. Therefore, I must end my blog for now. I hope that I will get a chance to post pictures up soon, especially one with my Marshall Brief Policy group as well as my roommates (my roommates and myself are all working really hard right now so it's probably not the best time for a picture...). Not to mention, our program includes having to write speeches (both persuasive and extemporaneous) and present them to a group of students and staff members. I hope you all understand how much we have to do and unfortunately that will affect how much and how thorough my blogs will be. Anyways, thanks for reading!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

It's gonna be intense

Today we visited the beautiful campuses of Connecticut College and Wesleyan University. I'm sure Yohanna and Jessica will give great reviews of these schools in their blogs, seeing as they were the designated "secretaries" for the trip. Because they have notes and are planning to fill you in, I'll skip the details of the colleges and let you know that I thought they were both amazing places and will seriously consider applying to both in the fall. What I learned most from my visits to Wesleyan and connecticut was what I wanted at a school (and what I didn't want). Spending time with personal student tour guides was invaluable in that I was forced to think critically about what questions to ask. By the second school I had a solid idea of what I want to look for in the colleges I will be applying to. By allowing me to visit these heavyweight east coast schools, the Ivy League Connection has given me this opportunity to not only learn more about the individual schools we visited but to learn how to learn more about other schools by asking the right questions.

After our morning/afternoon tours we got a couple slices of pizza from the original Pepe's Pizza. Then, after consuming large amounts of the thin crusted goodness we met at Yale to go to dinner with the kids from the program. Seeing as we weren't particularly hungry we indulged vastly in the free ice cream that was provided.

However, despite the fact that were infinite amounts of ice cream at dinner, it was the orientation that was the real fun part of the day. We filed into the lecture hall and got introduced as an audience to a series of instructors who were overqualified to say the least. Seriously, it seemed like winning a national debate title was a pre-requisite. After the intimidating intros the professors and student instructors laid out how are week was going to be. They talked for a while but I can sum it up in one word, "intense." One ex-ivy scholar shared about her personal experience a couple years ago when she stayed up for 72 hours straight. This brought the obvious follow up question, "Is that possible?" Anyways, apart from the massive amounts of intimidation we could see that this is going to be a great opportunity and I 'm excited to take the challenge. I feel just as prepared as any of these individuals and am ready to go.

I appreciate the opportunity the Ivy League Connection has given me and I hope I can make the most of it. I can only promise to do my best.

We have a lot to read so I'm going to end it here. However, I'll be back tomorrow to let you know if all the bark has any bite to it. Sorry I didn't get the pictures up. I let Yohanna carry my camera and forgot to get it back (don't worry mom I'll get it tomorrow). Thanks for reading!

Connecticut College

Connecticut College was founded in 1911 as a liberal arts college. Though it began as an all women's school, it is now co-educational, with an attendance of 40% males and 60% females. It is located in New London, Connecticut and very near the ocean. There are approximately 1900 students who attend from all over the world (though almost 75% are Caucasian).

The environment seems safe and quiet, and overall, pretty small compared to the UCs. Connecticut College has around 20 students per class, although the science classes can have up to 100 students. They have a student to teacher ratio of 9:1, where students are able to easily seek help from their instructors (there are no TA's!). Not to mention, the current President there, Leo Higdon, Jr., even lives on campus! In addition, the professors trust the students and know them well enough that there are no proctors during exams. (There are 3 time periods throughout the day that the student can choose from to take the test).

Overall, 99% of the students live on campus for all 4 years. 60% of students live in "doubles" and 40% live in "singles". Students can also choose to live in co-ed dorms or with the same gender.

Like I mentioned, Connecticut College is known for its studies in liberal arts. Dance was actually our tour guide's (Amy) major and is a big major offered there. (Amy also majored in Biochemistry). In general, there are 7 "areas" that must be fulfilled and take classes from: Physical Science, Mathematics, History, Visual Arts, Social Science, Philosophy, and Religious Studies. Besides the many students who major in Dance, approximately 25% of the students major in the science department. Though there is no pre-med program offered there, many students get on that track, and get to work with EMTs and find internships.

Athletically, Connecticut College is a Division III school, though their sailing is ranked as Division I. Almost 1/3 of the students participate in sports, though the "best teams" of them all are soccer, field hockey, and lacrosse. They even have a swimming pool open regular hours for those who like to swim.

Their Study Abroad program is also very unique. Their "special" program offered is known as SATA, or "Study Away, Teach Away". Students go with a professor to a country for 1 semester, and learn about subjects (depending on the departments offered). For example, this past year, some students went to China, Spain, and Vietnam.

For those who are interested in culture, there are international dorms available as well as clubs. The center for diversity is known as "Unity House" (I believe Ms. Larson posted a picture of it...). One club that has been on my mind is "IntoxicAsian" (not sure if that is how to spell it). Not only do they have a great name, but they happen to hold some main events and dances for the college; especially when it comes to Asian cultural dances. Even the Moon Festival was "celebrated" at Connecticut College because of the "IntoxicAsian" club!

Entertainment ranges from bands that play during weekends to having tents on the grassy area and places to "hangout". There are coffee shops and as mentioned earlier, the beach is pretty close by.

If this sounds like the college for you, here are the main things to know about admission: though SATs and ACTs might be an issue for many students, the officers at Connecticut College believe that there is more than just test scores. Yes, that means: the school is Test OPTIONAL. This has just started and I did get a little excited about that. However, it does have its consequences. The essays should be taken really personally and involvement in school also plays a big part. In addition, interviews are highly recommended and challenging yourselves in high school looks well on your transcripts. Overall, around 30% of all applicants get admitted.

Of course, then comes the tuition. How much are you willing to pay? Connecticut College costs around $51,115. However, they do provide need-based financial aid. The average grant received is $30,000. On the other hand, they do not have any athletic or academic scholarships.

Last but not least, 50% of students outside of the New England area are from California! Of course there are other regions as well such as Florida, Texas, Pennsylvania, etc.

Connecticut College may not be for everyone, but for those who had interests in anything mentioned above, I would recommend applying to Connecticut College. By the way, the mascot of the school is a camel. As strange as it may sound, the mascot was chosen by the men's basketball coach who retired. Before he retired, he wanted a mascot and of all animals, he chose a camel!

The tour was very helpful and I got a lot of information about Connecticut College. Though I did not know anything about it before, I am very grateful that I took notes and can share this knowledge with you. Thanks again for reading!

Here is a picture of our tourguide (Amy) and myself:
We also got a chance to listen to adult singers practice for an upcoming event!

A banner!

I apologize for not taking more pictures of the campus, but hopefully the other students will have some photos to share. Good night for now!