Thursday, May 28, 2015

Good Food, Better Company

For weeks I have been thinking about this day: The Dinner. The Ivy League Connection Columbia University dinner was held on May 26, 2015 in San Francisco, CA at the Prospect restaurant. This event is unlike any other event that we have had  because it is the first event that is solely focused on the school we will be attending this summer, which is Columbia University (as you may know by now). The purpose of the dinner is to meet and dine with sponsors of the ILC, alumni of Columbia University, ILC administrators, our chaperone, and our interview panelists. I have been looking forward to this day because it has finally given me a chance to get some one-on-one interaction with the people who made this trip possible and to get information about the school from those who have actually attended Columbia as students (and a great meal isn’t so bad either).

Since the week before was the last of my junior year of high school I woke up that afternoon ready for the day well rested and excited. I was sure to have my outfit already situated the day before so that I would be well prepared that day. This gave me a chance to relax and lounge around until it was about time to begin to get ready. Don told us that we could only bring one parent so my mom was more than happy to accompany me to the dinner. We began to get ready for dinner together but unfortunately she was not as prepared as I was so she took a considerably longer amount of time than I did. After we were finished getting ready, off we were to the Bart Station.

Don instructed my cohort and I to meet at the El Cerrito Plaza Bart Station at 5:10 PM. luckily my mom and I arrived a few minutes early so that we could find parking. After we parked we found Don and the rest of my cohort along with their parents waiting. Deborah and her mom arrived about the same time as my mom and I so the whole Columbia cohort was present but we were still missing alumni and Ms. Kronenberg and her husband. As we waited for everyone to arrive Don told us how to use the clipper cards that the ILC supplied us with and how we were to get to the restaurant. Soon after his instructions Sophie Evans-Boroditsky and Elizabeth Sanders, both alumni, and Mr. and Mrs. Kronenberg arrived at the Bart Station and off we were to the city!

Ms. Sanders and I
When we got on the Bart headed straight to San Francisco I sat next to Elizabeth Sanders and had a great conversation with her on our 30 minute trip. I proceeded to interrogate her about the university and on all the great spots we should check out during our time there. She gladly divulged all the information she acquired there during her time finishing up her masters degree in English from the teachers college. She told me about a great 24-hour falafel place and awesome museums that we had to check out. One trend that I noticed with her and with Ms. Boroditsky was that whenever they talked about locations in New York City they would name the exact streets that they reside on. All I could think about was how can they remember all of that and will I leave the East Coast describing places in that manner as well?

Sadly our conversation had to come to an end because we had come to our stop. We all proceeded to follow Don in his handsome tan suit up until we got outside the station. After we all caught up with him, he led the way for another 3 or 4 blocks until we reached the Prospect restaurant. As we all shuffled in I kind of felt out of place in the fancy and elegant setting of the restaurant since I had never been to a restaurant of that caliber. A waiter noticed our fairly large group and led us to a room in the back were we would have our dinner.
The Prospect restaurant from the outside.
When we got to the room, my mom and I made sure to take photos with everyone up until the sponsors and other alumni arrived. As we waited for our tables to set by Don and Mark I made sure to introduce myself to more people and after my great interactions with Ms. Sanders and Ms. Boroditsky I was less intimidated by everyone. I noticed a young lady walked in so I introduced myself to her. Her name was Blaine Harper and she graduated from Columbia in ’13 with a degree in Neuroscience and Behavior. After I learned her major I was so excited because I too want to pursue a career in neurology. I was so happy to hear that Columbia is a great school for neuroscience and she told me about her experiences there at Columbia.  As we were talking Fred Powell came up to us and introduced himself. I was shocked to find out that he is apart of all the reconstruction that the schools in our district have been undergoing and I made sure to give him the praise that he deserves for not only the constructions of our amazing schools that he has helped build but also for the support he has given to us as a sponsor of the ILC.

My fellow neuroscience major, Blaine Harper.

Once our tables were set we all scattered around to find our assigned seating. The table my mom and I were assigned to sit at also included Ms. Sanders, Matthew Pettler, Mitchell Flax, Alyanna, and Alyanna’s grandmother Gloria Paulino. The waiters came around to each of us and explained the menus in front of us. My mom and I made a deal to get totally different meals so that we could share. I got the scallops first, salmon second, and tart last.
Where’s the food?
As we waited for our food Ms. Kronenberg gave each of us from the Columbia cohort time to stand and give our names, grade, school, and program the we would be attending. As we went around the room Ms. Kronenberg mistakenly forgot me but it was funny and made my introduction less frightening. After our introductions Ms. Kronenberg gave time for the sponsors, alumni, our chaperone Joyce, and the ILC administrators some time to talk as well. Mark Ramsey had a rather powerful and impressive speech that was unbelievably impromptu.

Smiles of concealed hunger.

Mark was the last to speak and as he got up to give his speech the food started to come out. Although we all had our first amazing plate of food, Mark was still able to keep our attention with his great speech. He would holler every time he mentioned Columbia or De Anza High School like he was saying his favorite sports team, which made me laugh.

After his speech we all dug into our food. My scallops were beyond amazing, as expected, and the salad that I saw some people had looked great as well. At first everyone around the table seemed a bit awkward and did not know what to talk about but that quickly changed after a couple of minutes. At first we talked about Columbia but somehow we started to talk about other things such as their and our own personal lives which I kind of found more interesting because I got to learn what paths attending Columbia University has led them to. Ms. Sanders and Mr. Flax are both teachers and they talked a bit about their jobs which I found really cool. We even talked about driving and funny stories about driving, which I found highly amusing. The dinner was not really what I expected it to be because I thought we would just talk about Columbia University, but I was really relieved that we just talked about ourselves, which made the dinner so much more fun.

My delicious tart. 
When the waiter asked if I wanted a coffee I knew that our dinner was coming to an end. I made sure to thank everyone for their awesome company and support before we went to the side of the room to take our pictures. Don once again positioned us perfectly and took so many pictures that my cheeks began to hurt from smiling. And of course our parents made sure to take pictures with their phones as well.

Wonderful picture with the Columbia alumni

After the photos we sadly had to say our goodbyes to everyone. I was kind of sad because I did not get a chance to go around the room to meet everyone because I would get caught up in so many awesome conversations. Before, I had an irrational idea that Ivy League Schools produce stuck up and obnoxious people that I am now very embarrassed about because I was completely wrong. Everyone I met at that dinner including sponsors, alumni, and ILC administrators were so friendly, supportive, and down-to-earth.  Hearing the speeches and speaking to everyone really opened up my eyes to the mass of people who have made this summer possible to us and how much everyone believes in us to put an investment of time, money, and energy in us.  I do not know if there will ever be words that are adequate enough to express my gratitude to everyone who have made this possible but the words “thank you” will have to do for now.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, I ordered the exact same things and they were all fabulous! We'll have some fantastic meals in NYC, too. I can't wait!