Monday, July 11, 2011

It's Not True

It takes a while for things to sink in.  Maybe it takes a very long time to come to terms with things, sometimes it comes as easy as "Hey, look, I'm here."  And sometimes, it takes for things to be right in your face, with the words that "you're leaving" echoing through the chambers of the mind in order to realize things.

Yes, I am leaving.  But I am not believing it.

Delivering the news.
 Tonight, the RCAs had the entire Fifth Floor meet at the floor lounge to inform the three-week students that our time was coming to a close.  Whether or not there were a few more days was pretty much irrelevant at this point -- the requirements for what we had to do before we leave, our checkout schedules, everything, was all laid out right in front of us.

I don't believe I've used the word disheartening yet, so I will use it right now.  It was very much so.  I had been aware we were leaving, but I did not think it would hit me like this.

On a more positive note, we had another guest speaker today.  He was very informative and managed to give us a very complicated lesson in hotel structure.  While it was a bit too much to digest within an hour or so, it was still quite good.  It is always nice to see employees from the nearby Statler Hotel speak about how things really are.

I would also like to post these pictures of my room, with my roommate Harley and friend Reggie.  I had promised my family I would do this and I have been holding off on it, so here it is.


And I Thought Three Weeks Was A Long Time

Today we got to hear a “conservative’s” thoughts on government, rather than the liberals’ ideas we had read earlier, such as John Locke’s concept of private property. I say conservative in quotes because Edmund Burke, despite being considered the founder of conservatism, actually was completely different type of conservative, just as Locke is separate from today’s liberals. Since this class has been mostly liberal-based, it was interesting to hear an opposing viewpoint, albeit one I completely disagreed with.

After the lecture, we discussed Professor Kramnick’s lecture as usual. After that, we finally got our mid-terms back, which had been causing a great deal of stress to pretty much the entire class. I am proud to say that I got an A-, which isn’t half bad considering the fact that out of my section of 15, only 2 got a straight A, and only one other person got an A-, with the remainder of the class receiving grades of B+ or lower. We then did a peer review session of each other’s Plato essays, and a friend from Texas gave me some very useful feedback that I will be sure to use for my final draft.

We also started reading Karl Marx today, who is always a fascinating (but long) read. I look forward to Professor Kramnick’s ideas of Marx’s teachings, but need to get a bit of sleep since I have a pretty awful headache right now.

The Bright Side

I got my mid-term back today!! I won't bore you with the details, I GOT AN "A-"!!!! I'm so excited! I felt like I did really well on that test, but I wasn't sure that my TA was going to be kind enough to give anybody A's! I'm so excited!!!

As I think I've mentioned before, there are six questions on the test. The first is an essay question, which you have three possible options for, and the last five are short response questions. Looking through my test, I found that I got an A- on my essay, and an A- average on my short response questions. Once again, I'm so excited!

I would just like to thank the donors again, and the leaders of this program for sending me out here. This truly is an opportunity like no other and I hope I have made you all proud thus far. I will work my hardest to succeed in this class and I can't wait until the end when we all show what the WCCUSD is made out of.

But enough with mid-terms! Let's get on to pizza.

We had been hearing about this deep-dish pizza joint called "The Nines" ever since we got to Cornell. We finally got a chance to check it out tonight, and I have to say that it did not live up to expectations.

It's not the greatest looking place, and the deep-dish I have to say was sub-par. It must have been a million and one degrees in that room, and we just happened to come in during karaoke hour. Lucky us. The room was never quiet, and the singers weren't even good. Call me a pessimist, but they came dangerously close to ruining my evening. Good thing I tend to look at the bright side of things. Like getting an "A-" on my pre-lim :)

Until tomorrow readers! Good night!

No Anticlimax for Us

Monday marked the beginning of the end. It's a saddening realization, but in the classroom environment, strangely it doesn't feel like we're wrapping up at all. We're always embarking on new hospitality adventures and new lessons, always learning something new. There is no expiration. Oddly enough this relentlessness is a bit reassuring.

Today, we commenced fierce editing of our returned business report. Personally, I was not happy with the grade I earned, but am sure that the hard work I’m spending in revision will mean a sharper final product: the infamous culmination group CHESS analysis report.

This morning, the class touched on our weekend service projects. It was a discussion that grew into what it means and how it feels to have a service mindset, to possess the skill of engaging people and serving their needs to the best of one’s abilities. This deeper significance (which I had meticulously detailed in my previous entry deleted by Blogger on a glitch) revealed itself in the form of a pop quiz.

With the help of the Statler Hotel's Director of Food & Beverages, we diagrammed the entire corporate structure of the typical hotel.

We also hosted another guest speaker, Lisa Schaffer, an Assistant Dean at the Cornell Hotel School. She dished the details on the application process to this college in particular out of the many on Cornell University’s campus. Her information was very tailored and helpful for the individuals who expressed their deep interest in the hospitality industry by fiercely jotting down the Hotel School’s student median SAT & ACT scores, as well as SAT II Chemistry & Math requirements.

Yet simultaneously, I felt some of her advice would be applicable to anyone applying to any university. She talked about the interviewing process, whether it be with one of the members of a global network of alumni, in-school, or via Skype. Colleges really want to make sure they’re a good fit for you and vice versa, so laying it all on the table can be a deciding factor. Having work experience in the area of study certainly helps, and possessing that genuine passion, personality, and determination (which they can sense a mile away) to pursue it dramatically increases your chances.

One message that will stick with me is: if you know what you want to do, what field you want to pursue, what to study to get there, or all of the above, then go for it. But, keep in mind that you’ll make many new discoveries along the way, wherever you end up, so it’s important to have an open mind.

It’s busy days like these which keep my mind off the tragedy that all things come to an end.

Would You Like a Drink With Your Application?

The final week has approached us and to me it just feels like any other day in class. We debriefed on our service projects and did a write-up on it and how it made us feel. Luckily for me, a lot of the ideas I conceived for the writing assignment came up in my blog! So all I had to do is simply extract what I wrote last night and apply the same concepts onto paper! We were also able to hear the experiences of groups I was not aware of including one that offered a pool party and Slip 'N Slide to the public and another that offered a concierge service. And again, we broke into discussion behind the philosophy of service. In particular, we discussed how sincerity or an appearance of it can affect how it impacts a patron. We also talked about how the value of the service will also affect the way the patron responds to it.

Our day, for the most part, consisted of guest speakers going in to talk to the class. The first one was Greg Mazzi, the Food & Beverage Director at the connected Statler Hotel. He assisted Mark McCarthy in organizing a layout of how leadeship and division of tasks are separated and organized within a hotel's employee base. While this was mostly based on the organization of the Statler Hotel, which is a 100-something room property, the final diagram looked incredibly intimidating and I will admit that I sometimes got lost, mixed up, and confused at times. After learning so much about the industry in the past two weeks, I almost felt I was ready to operate a hotel for myself!

How wrong I was.
The final diagram on the board.

After lunch, Lisa Schafer, the Assistant Dean of the Hospitality School at Cornell, came to talk about admittance into the institution. Because of the many resources we have had throughout this trip including admissions officer meetings, campus tours, and presentations, she re-inforced many ideas that people before her have shared about applying to a college. I now know that the pool of resources is expected to repeat the same things over and over again, and many friends that have done college tours and similar ventures in the past tend to get the same impression each time. However, that doesn't go without saying that without that repetition, you will never be able to find out the things that stand out or that makes the school absolutely unique. For instance, I was shocked to hear that the number of students in the 2014 class is less than 200! While the hotel school makes up a small portion of Cornell, I was surprised to hear that the admissions office actually allocates how many freshmen can be accepted into which schools. When I first heard about that, a whirlwind of questions and ideas swished through my mind as I can imagine that conflicts and frustrations can or have possibly brewed from this particular idea. It would be interesting to research this bit a little more as I am sure that other schools have run into a similar concept before and I would like to know how staff and students have managed and been impacted by this.

The one final hurdle that everyone in class knows is lurking behind everyone's backs is the final group report. This report will analyze data in a similar way we performed our individual report, but we will be managing the hotel as a single entity and turn in the assignment as a single group. From the beginning of office hours, I knew we would have differences of opinion as we had separate ideas for how we wanted to cover our expenses. Then again, we all managed to pull through it and reaches a consensus, and after doing a small test run, we discovered that minor tweaks can make this an extremely profitable simulation property that may actually reach our original goal of income! While it feels like we have so much time to finish this, I know that the pressure will hit us in a few days to come.

Don't Make Me Leave!

I just got back from a floor meeting. The entire second floor of Mary Donlon Hall met up in our lounge to talk about the "closing procedure" that is supposed to take place on Saturday.

We are supposed to vacuum and pack up all of our things before check-out in the morning. Our rooms must be spotless and we must return sheets to the library downstairs. Fans and mattress pads stay in the room for the new students who will move into our rooms. This must be done before we go to our respective graduation ceremonies. It's not the cleaning that bothers me. I don't mind that at all. It's just the idea of leaving Cornell.

At 9 pm today, while walking back from office hours, I immaturely jumped around and repeated over and over again "Don't make me leave! Don't make me leave!" to my friends Tarina and Rashika. They just laughed at me. It was pretty sad.

On another note, in class today we had a guest speaker, the head of Food and Beverage at the Statler Hotel on campus. He, along with Mark and Reneta, taught us about all of the different job positions in a hotel. Mark made a graphic organizer on the board, that we all tried to copy. It was way too complicated though, and since many positions fall under different categories all at once, (since, really, every department of a hotel is connected to every other department), a lot of us ended up taking a picture of the board to catch what we missed.

This not only gave us an overview of hotel structure and organization, but also stressed a super important concept: everything and everyone is connected, especially in the hospitality industry.

The beautiful Statler Hotel at night

Last Week Of Freedom

A candid shot of a portion of my discussion group, maybe you recognize Nick!

Today we got our mid-terms back. I feel like I could have done better, but just pertaining to my writing. I knew all the material, but could have elaborated on certain points when talking about philosophers and their main points. However, I tried my hardest and am fairly pleased with how I did- it can always be worse. Plus, I went to office hours with my TA and worked with him on my essay so I'm working hard and am hoping for the best on this upcoming final on Friday.

In class, we were lectured on Burke. Due to his flowery prose, he is a bit hard to follow, but a few of his main points I found very interesting. Being a conservative, he discusses liberalism and the differences in how they view democracy. These are alien even more though in accordance with our reading material for the night; Karl Marx.

Tonight I went out for dinner with, as Taylor calls it, "the crew." (Minus Carrie- who's birthday it is tomorrow!) The 9s pizza was delicious, and just added another layer of appeal that Ithaca holds for me. This trip is honestly one I will remember for the rest of my life.

The Last Monday

Today the count down begins. There are officially 5 days until I am home and in my own bed. 5 days until I can have a quality burrito. 5 days until I get to see my little brother :).

Monday marks the beginning of a new week, in school terms. So today we started our final week of class and our new topic of equality, although today we talked about inequality.

We started off the week with a lecture on Burke, who is the founder (I almost wrote father of but then my feminist side got control) of Conservatism. Again, as when we talked about Liberalism, Professor Kramnick made sure we understood that the way we use conservatism or conservative is not entirely the same as the meaning it had when Burke ‘invented’ it. For me, it was very difficult to understand what Burke meant or how he could even support the idea of inequality. I guess I would follow Locke over Burke because I believe that the government should grow from the people, not that government was given to us from previous generations and thus we must do what they did. I just cannot believe in a monarchical system and I think that is because I have grown up in a democracy.

After lecture we, like we do every day, went to our discussion groups to talk about Burke and our midterms. In discussion we more or less just wrote down what Professor Kramnick had talked about but a little more in depth, and with Simon (my TA’s) additional opinions. Then it was that heart stopping moment—tests were given back. I as actually very content with my grade on the midterm, although there are a couple things I wish my TA would have graded a little differently but that is okay it just means that next time I have to be more clear. I am very glad we have our midterms to look back on and see what the final might look like.

Academics aside I think I am going to go for a run, even though the weather here is not really my ideal running weather. I am not sure I like 90-degree heat. Oh well it will just make me appreciate the fog ten million times more than I already do.

Until tomorrow, Over and Out blog readers.