Sunday, August 9, 2009

Last Days & Good-Byes

Sunday August 9, 2009

Hey everyone! It's currently 6:27 am. I've decided not to sleep. Today I leave New Haven, Connecticut to return back home and I still have yet to process that fact. I've already bade several of my friends farewell. Before going into evaluation of the program, it's necessary to recount the events of the past few days.

Friday followed a schedule that was rather different from our usual one: it was Marshall Brief Presentation Day. Our day began with breakfast, a morning lecture, and lunch. At 1 pm each presenting group was to report to their respective room. Those not presenting could roam around to watch other presentations. My group was last, presenting [about education policy] at 7:45 pm-8:45 pm. We nervously waited through four other presentations before our own. We nervously watched four other successful presentations before our own.

My knees and hands began to shake as the fourth presentation concluded. And, for the first time in my life, I stood in front of an audience for an hour. I gave it my best shot, but I still stuttered and trembled--I hope it's my honest effort that mattered. I felt we were asked way more questions than previous briefs we saw (the first, second, and third in particular) but perhaps our brief was vague. We all tried our best to present well and sufficiently answer all of the asked questions.

Overall, although my group agrees that we did get "murdered" in a sense, it was the experience and the effort that made the Marshall Brief project memorable. We endured together, worked together, suffered together, and laughed together. I will never forget it.

After our Marshall Brief, we headed to the lecture hall to watch a college parliamentary debate. I've actually never seen a high school debate, let alone a college-level one. In this debate, government team "Nick N' Rick" went again opposition team "Yale A+" (Grant and Pam) on affirmative action. There are six parts to this debate; however, the names of each part has slipped my mind and my notes are already packed. I was completely engaged the entire time and in the end, team "Yale A+" won.

Monday August 10, 2009

Sorry for the late blog! I never finished my post and must finish this one before I begin my final evaluation and reflection of my past two weeks in New Haven.

Saturday was our last whole day at Yale University. The morning was kicked off by a lecture from Ambassador Charles Hill on "Where Are We Now," touching on topics from the recent release of the two arrested journalists in Korea, to the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia.

We were supposed to have our final brunch at Branford, but the dining hall was mysteriously closed. Instead, we were directed to go to Saybrook, which--I'm sure Dr. Dr. Luong will be very please with this!--had BACON! After so many mornings of Dr. Dr. Luong questioning us about bacon, we finally got some!

Next, I attended a final seminar by Dr. Dr. Luong on "The Future of Warfare Weapons of the 21st Century." Simply by listening and watching the professor, I could tell this was something he's very passionate about. Following this lecture with his explanation of various future weapons and aircrafts, he showed us a video/simulation. I found it interesting to see what warfare may be dominated by in the coming years.

The video had to stop halfway through so we could all begin our 19-page evaluation sheets. I had so much to say, but had to cut much of it short due to the 1-hour time period. I quickly walked back to the TD to get dressed for the graduation dinner. Everybody was rushing because we only had 30 minutes to get ready--a time one normally takes to get ready for class, not a formal event! Nevertheless, we all finished within the given time, if not earlier.

After a 5-10 minute walk, we arrived in front of the World War I memorial, where we spent a decent about of time taking pictures and complimenting each other. I must say that everybody looked well-groomed and well-dressed!

We entered the President's building, waiting outside the dining room as pre-mocktail drinks were served. After about half an hour of "mingling," we sat ourselves at tables. I actually sat with some scholars I had previously not chatted with: Jimmy, Van, Hannah D., Marissa M., Raychel, Yohanna, and Jessica. At one point, we had two liquid spills: one clear, and one red. As the liquids spread, Jimmy likened them to the Cold War and the spread of communism. We were all hilariously engaged in the action, making comments and gasping along the way.

After dessert, Professor Luong commenced the graduation ceremony with a speech. Then the staff proceeded to hand out certificates. The Bay Area group (me, Matt, Jessica, Yohanna) were the first to be called up, and I was caught by surprise because I was expecting to be called in alphabetical order. It wasn't until I returned to my seat that I realized I didn't shake anybody's hand!! I apologize to the Dean, Dr. Luong, Drew, and every one else whose hand I did not shake.

I'd like to congratulate our very own members for their accomplishments. Matt A. received an award for his overall leadership performance, and Yohanna and her group received an award for the overall best Marshall Brief presentation. These two honors are of the highest degree and I'm very proud of them for doing so well. This, again, shows that one need not be attending a private school or highly acclaimed public school to be part of the best of the best. Despite awards being given out to specific scholars, I know each and every one of us did our best and I know each and every one of us are the best of the best.

At 10 pm we began our "forced fun" night, with choices of either movies, poke tournaments, Monopoly tournaments, Risk tournaments, or bonding times at Blue State Coffee. I decided to watch two movies: Clueless and 10 Things I Hate About You.

I did not sleep that night because I knew I wouldn't be able to get up to say bye to others. Instead, I packed, finishing at 3:30 am or 4 am and stayed awake to bid my friends farewell. I did not cry for the first few good-byes, which I found odd for an emotional person like myself. Perhaps it was the effect of the caffeine. Perhaps it had not hit me yet--you know, that fact that I was leaving a place where I'd formed so many relationships; a place I'd come to love so much.

At 11:15 am, Mrs. Larson picked the four of us up to further explore the Yale campus. After half an hour of exploration, we had our final meal at Drew [Blue] State Coffee--yes, I came up with that awesome name! We poured our hearts out to Mrs. Larson about how much we'd miss Yale and how much we'd learned over the 2-week period.

Finally, it was time to bring down our luggage. I cleaned my room and my floor's bathroom (some people disgustingly didn't clean up after themselves and I felt obliged to clear their mess) and signed out. Saying good-bye to the instructors really did it for me--I began crying like a baby. From rising freshman Zoe Egelman to the impassioned Anthony Berryhill, I felt the impact each of them had had on me, be it a small favor like helping me with luggage or a larger favor like trying to improve my self-confidence. These people have played a huge role in shifting Yale to the top of my college list. I'm now stuck between applying to Yale through Early Action and applying to Northwestern through Early Decision. As I replay these past two weeks in my head, the latter decision is almost apparent.

I've learned so much throughout this program--a semester of college, to be exact. However, this is not all I learned. I was taught invaluable life lessons from experienced professors and well-informed students. Some of these students, though they appeared to be in their mid-20s and early 30s, were, in fact, only a few years older than we. While I was taught about legal philosophy, policy writing, and grand strategy, I also uncovered life's rules of thumb, from psychological maintenance to public speaking ability. These priceless lessons are what I'll bring back to my family, my school, and my community.

Before coming to Yale University, I lacked the qualities of a true leader. I was unorganized, extremely insecure, dependent, fearful. However, in a mere two weeks, I developed characteristics which take others a lifetime to gain. I rid myself of qualities which take others a lifetime to eliminate. I learned how to be time-efficient. I increased my confidence through public speaking and, as simple as it sounds, lectures. I learned how to take risks regardless of the potential failure: "The art of victory is learned in defeat," as Simón Bolívar once said. Above all, YISP has taught me the importance of creating relationships. I've formed friendships with the most unlikely persons. I've cried and suffered with them. And despite my whining, my PMSing, my crying, they've been there to support me, even though they'd only known me for X amount of time. They've offered their help to me, they've comforted me--all with HONEST endeavor, too.

I'm so blessed to have professors of the highest caliber believe I, a girl from a lower-middle/middle-class socioeconomic background, am capable of becoming a world leader one day. These professors have provided me with undying motivation to do even better in school, to become even more engaged in current domestic and international affairs, and to become an influential leader in my community. Their faith in me will be emulated in my future actions as my senior year in high school approaches.

With all said, I'd like to express my thanks to the WCCUSD. Without them, I would not have known of the YISP; I would not have applied to the YISP; I would not have been able to afford the YISP. They've shown me that risking failure pays off in the long run, and that even the poorest-performing communities can succeed. Thank you, in particular, to Mr. Ramsey and Mrs. Kronenberg, the initiators of the Ivy League Connection and the main people responsible for making this the most memorable summer of the 17 summers I've lived through. I'd also like to extend my gratitude to Dr. Dr. Luong, director of the YISP and the wonderful man who agreed to allow me (as well as Yohanna, Matt, and Jessica) into the program. Finally, thank you to the dedicated YISP staff. Each and every one of you have helped this year's (and every other year's) program succeed because you believed in us and you were willing to help us. All of you mentioned contributed to changing the lives of 70 people, and 70 emerging leaders.

It's now official. I've graduated from the 2009 Yale Ivy Scholars Program.

This is my final blog, and thank you all for reading.

1 comment:

  1. Stephanie,

    By the time these comments are being posted you will have been home for a week but your blog still deserves commentary. If you took the time to write it, the least I can do is to respond.

    I’m so sorry you went through such aggravation waiting for your turn to present your Marshall Brief. The fear of public speaking is one of the worst that most people share and the only real way to help alleviate that fear is through experience. The more you do it, the easier it’s supposed to get.

    Even if you stuttered and stammered as much as you think, I’m betting that you came away from the experience better prepared for future presentations. That’s what we send you to school to learn, Stephanie. We don’t send you places so you can repeat what you already know how to do. We send you to learn and experience NEW things.

    I’m impressed, Stephanie, about your yearning to apply for early admission/action at Yale and Northwestern. I’d like to think I had something to do with both of these choices. I escorted you down to Santa Clara for their informational session and I helped secure some of the logistical support getting you to Yale. Yes, Stephanie, you probably could have done it all without me but for now I’d like to take some credit for it.

    While I can’t say that I really knew you before your adventure in Connecticut, I think I knew you well enough to understand your strengths and weaknesses. Reading about your own thoughts about how you’ve grown makes me want to know the Stephanie of today so I can compare it to the Stephanie I used to know.

    Something I’ve read in this blog, Stephanie, is that you’ve learned that there are good and decent people all about you ready and willing to extend their hands in friendship. All you have to do is to open your eyes and welcome their help.