I'm Nick Shebek, and this will be my first post on our Cornell 2011 blog.
Last night, my peers attending the Freedom and Justice Program and I went to a dinner at Outback Steakhouse to meet with the Pinole Valley students who attended the program last year.
I had been curious to hear just how the class had been for the students from Pinole Valley last year, and was looking forward to an inside perspective on the overall experience. As soon as I was introduced to the Pinole Valley students, I realized that the people accepted into this program were no joke. They all spoke very eloquently about their journey, and made me feel like I was a part of a family now that I would be attending this program with the ILC. I already had a decent idea of what they had done while in Ithaca just by reading their blog posts but getting to meet them face-to-face taught me all I will need to know to have a successful trip this summer. These students taught me many lessons and stressed the importance of studying in the months leading up to the program. Along with all the important academic tips they gave, they also were reassuring and made it clear that, although this is a time-consuming class I will be attending, it's important to remember to have fun in Ithaca.
I thought this meeting was very worthwhile because getting to meet with the group in a relaxed environment proved to be both informative and motivational. They gave me more advice than I would have thought possible, from what food to stay away from at the cafeteria to where to sit for Professor Kramnick's lectures. Along with all this great information, I also got to meet my chaperone for this trip: Ms. Tiffani Neal. I was delighted to learn that she was going to be our chaperone. Ms. Neal seems like a very down-to-earth person, and I look forward to getting to know her as our journey continues.
These knowledgeable students shared many of their great stories and experiences, but one of the things that really stood out to me was just how close they seemed to be. Every question we asked was followed by knowing glances towards each other, and they treated each other just like family. I am excited about forming similar bonds with all of my fellow ILC Cornellians this summer, and June just can't come quickly enough.