Friday, July 22, 2011

A Month To Remember

I should not have been in this program. That seems like a negative way to open my final blog looking back on this Cornell experience, but allow me to explain myself. I had been nominated for this program early on in the school year, but didn’t make it to the essay and interview portion of the application. I was disappointed, but I still wasn’t sure what exactly the program was, so I all but forgot about the ILC. My memory was jarred a few months later when I was told that I had been nominated for a different program, the one at Yale. I had to write an essay right off the bat, which surprised me since I hadn’t even made it to the essay-writing segment for the Cornell program, and here I was writing away before I even knew what hit me. I went into the interview later on quite nervous, and was a bit thrown off when I was asked about a Grand Strategy course, even though I had thought I was supposed to be applying for a Global Leaders course. I didn’t think much of it though, and was ecstatic when I found out I had been accepted. I also felt good being the only sophomore accepted, although that turned out to be problematic. I checked back online the next day to learn about the Grand Strategy course, since I knew next to nothing about it. My heart stopped when the first thing I read was that the class would be for rising seniors and older, which I most certainly wasn’t. I talked to Don about it hoping that was just a typo on the website, but he told me that the professor had just changed the age requirements a little while earlier. I was both sad and somewhat frustrated that I had put all this effort into my application all for nothing. That frown was quickly turned upside down when Don said that to make it up to me; I would be able to choose my preference among the appropriate programs. There were so many great programs it was hard to choose, but I had already been slightly leaning towards Cornell in the first place since the Freedom & Justice course sounded pretty interesting to me. This slight leaning towards Cornell was aided by strong hints of disownment coming from my parents (both of whom attended Cornell) if I chose not to give Cornell a chance. That made my decision quite a bit easier, and before I knew it, I was headed out to Ithaca.

I really didn’t know what to expect heading in, much like I assume one feels heading off to college, but after this experience, I think I will know what’s coming in college. (I know, Summer College isn’t actual college, but it’s quite a bit more similar to college than high school is.) I had no clue what sort of people were there, how my professor would be, what my RCAs would be like, what my TA would be like, and countless other worries to deal with. On the first day my worries about my peers were instantly quelled, when I met dozens of interesting nice people, including my Jordanian roommate Sami (have I mentioned he was from Jordan yet?!). As soon as class started, I saw that I didn’t have to worry about Professor Kramnick or my TA Vijay, both of whom were hilarious and gave great insights throughout the course. I know my level of accomplishment in the class is due to Vijay’s guidance (and also because he happens to be giving me the grade, so it really is all thanks to him).

Aside from this great class and how the program as a whole made me mature ten times faster than I would have expected, one of the best parts of this trip was getting to take a tour of the engineering quad with the current student I mentioned in a few of my past blogs, Ashley Harms. I know I am probably repeating what I said earlier about our tour, but getting to talk to her just made me so much more excited and calm about the college experience, and I really feel like I will be able to handle college thanks to her stories about Cornell.

Another great aspect about this trip that really affected me as a person was the social aspect and overall freedom (as well as responsibilities). Heading into this Summer College, I was never all that outgoing (not that I wasn’t friendly, just somewhat shy) and definitely wouldn’t have imagined myself being able to make friends over such a short period. Since I only had three weeks to get to know a lot of these people, I just naturally became more outgoing, and within the first week already had a great group of friends who I’ll remember not only for their awesome personalities, but for teaching me one of the greatest basketball games I’ve ever played, kangaroo. Having all this freedom and responsibility was also an enlightening experience, since I have had to rely on my parents a great deal (especially since I still don’t have my driver’s license). Having to mix work and play was quite the hassle, but I was always able to get things done when I needed, and I actually found that I was able to push myself more without my parents’ watchful eyes (much to my mother’s chagrin). This program made me feel as ready for college as I could have possibly imagined, which is a bit odd for a rising junior who is just barely halfway done with high school to say, but that is truly how I feel. I also feel that the stress and work I had to deal with for this course will make high school much easier, which is nice since I’ll be heading to my most difficult year. I think this in turn will lead to an easier college life, which will also lead to an easier life out in the real world, so it is pretty difficult for me to explain just how important this was for me as of now. The only way for me to truly show this will be my future accomplishments, since I’m betting they will all easily be traced back to this month.
Anyway, because all these future accomplishments I hope to make would be thanks to this program, I think it’s only fitting to give thanks to those who really affected me in this program. Thanks to our School Board trustees who founded this program, Mr. Ramsey and Ms. Kronenberg. Thanks to Don, who helped keep everything running. Thanks Ms. Neal, for your support and flexibility. Thanks to the teachers and counselors at ECHS who introduced me to the program. Thanks to Cornell for creating and developing this Summer College. Last but not least, thanks to my cohorts who always kept me laughing and without whom I don’t think I would’ve survived the course; Joe, Taylor, Genevieve, Terilyn, Jobel, Kevin, and Kelly.
Now I have ended my journey just the way it started, with a 1200 word paper.

Thank you.