Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Night's Intimate Dinner

I'll have to apologize for this one; timing for blogging about this event seems slightly overdue, but after a wonderful dinner, we all made it home pretty late (11 PM at the BART Station).

The day for me began with school as usual. As always, school consumes much of your time and it seems so endless sometimes! However, despite this dinner event lasting almost as long as a school day, it felt so much shorter for the amount of time we had. Time flies when you're enjoying yourself and others' company.

Waiting for the train
The cohort, along with our parents, arrived at the BART Station shortly before Don advised us to. Ironically this time, we arrived minutes before him, making the process a lot smoother and efficient. Once everyone had arrived, we were handed the Clipper cards and boarded the train to San Francisco. On the way, Katherine and I enjoyed getting to know us more, learning about how school has been, and discussing the typical overachieving high school student's dilemma, the AP exams. We shared our aspirations and downfalls of the exams briefly and somehow ended up touching upon the subject of genetics- or at least I remember wanting to talk about it. There's way too much I'm curious about (I can go into that all on its own, but that's a separate blog; I hope I can elaborate on this through my experiences taking Medicine, Health, and Society!)

Waiting for our train.

Best BART Station. I mean LOOK at that!
Upon our stop on the Powell Station, our entire group re-grouped and made our way up the stairs. As we rose on the elevator, we were welcomed by the busy ambient of San Francisco enveloped by the tall magnificent buildings in surrounding us. We made our way through the wind and crowded crosswalks until we all made our stop at Scala's Bistro. We were taken to our private (perks) dining room only to find out that there was a slight delay from alumni who were unfortunately unable to join us that night. On the bright side, this was quite a positive thing for us in the sense that it created a warm, more intimate and friendly environment among ourselves. Anyhow, before everyone actually arrived, most of us went on a search through the restaurant (which I believe was also part of  a hotel) for the restrooms. After some dead ends and right before finding them though, we came across these four old-fashioned, bright red chairs- of course, the four of us in our cohort agreed that it was the perfect time for a snapshot.


Mingling at its finest: having a pleasant conversation with Tyler.
Once we made it downstairs and back to the dining room, we were surprised to see that there were already guests waiting for us. We saw some familiar faces, like John Tilsch, who interviewed us, as well as new faces like Tyler, an alum who became one of my favorite people from the dinner. Soon after greeting each other, more and more guests arrived and everyone eventually came up with their own groups in which we learned about the alumni. Tyler, who Katherine and I spoke a lot with, told us how he was an Engineering Science and Economics major at Vanderbilt, Class of 2012. He would explain to us how he fell in love with Vanderbilt since it was a lot more like a community. He mentioned how it was small enough to get to see friends ans familiar faces, but large enough to meet new people and how he appreciated the class sizes, the food, sports, tailgating, and the Southern charm that Nashville offers. Having had the experience I did at Brown last summer, I can imagine how Tyler felt as he reminisced his good days at Vandy; putting myself in his shoes, I can only imagine how great it will be this summer. It's only so bittersweet how we will have to wait almost halfway through summer to take on in this experience!

I was feeling it while speaking that night.
Eventually it was time to sit at our tables and speak with the people at our tables. At mine, there was David Sanchez '14, Ms. Kronenberg, Isaac Escamilla '14, Casey Word '09, myself, and my mom. I honestly cannot remember everything we talked about because we went from subject to subject within minutes. We had a speech by David, who was at my table, with the theme: Vanderbilt Was Right for Me and it Can Be for You, Too. Honestly, with everything there is about Vanderbilt, including their strong alumni here in the Bay Area, I have to say that at least for now, the excitement is mounting and I just can't wait to explore as much as I can and see what there is out there. With that in mind, it was my turn for presenting my speech with the theme: Looking Forward to Vanderbilt. Because last year's dinner at Brown was in a huge room and it had a podium, I was sort of hoping for something similar, however, as I mentioned it was a rather small and intimate room of us Vanderbilt enthusiasts. That said, I had a notecard with things I wanted to say, but with no podium, I put it away and tried to take advantage of the warmth of our dinner guests and spoke from the heart. I mentioned how I was looking forward to see in which ways I will be able to grow and venture out of my comfort zone once again. Having had my experience last year, I know the struggles, but feel more than willing to take on the challenges and grow from them. With such a cooperative and smiling crowd, I don't know how I was feeling nervous on the inside. It was truly comforting feeling support  and nods from the audience- from strangers I had just met or only glanced a hi at. It made me wish there was more time to interact and get to know all of the alumni and  make more of these warm connections with.

Once my speech was over, we finally placed our orders. I personally wanted to try the fish dish with the fancy name and pancetta. Who can't appreciate food? I ate the entire fish and enjoyed that delicious bread and olive oil at the table. It was superb. With Casey at our table, it was so funny and interesting to hear her enthusiastic, charismatic sarcasm when it came to her adventures living both in Tennessee and San Francisco from no hot water for three months, to finding the best short ribs that a man sold from the back of his truck, in a parking lot behind a liquor store back in Nashville... As cheesy as it is,  it made this summer that much more anticipated for myself. Furthermore, I was reminded by Ms. Kronenberg the A/C that Vanderbilt would have that Brown didn't and heard about the plethora of options at Vandy's dining commons. Eventually, I learned how Casey chose Vanderbilt for her Masters degree in Finance as it was one of the only schools that tended to her specific needs and because of how personal and amiable the people there were when she arrived for the first time ever for the Admit Weekend. In all, it was a pleasant experience learning about her funny experiences throughout high school as well as the insight from everyone into their jobs as Google workers (David and Isaac) and actuary (Casey) and the typical day in their life.

As the night came to an end, I was saddened to know that that was it for the night. It was time to go, but first we had a group picture. Right after, I had said my goodbyes to many of the people we met, including some I hadn't gotten the chance to meet as much. I still remember how personable and supportive Tyler was since he came back to say goodbye to Katherine and myself, having had one of our most engaging conversations of the night with him. As I mentioned before, it was incredibly warming to feel the support and enthusiasm not only from Tyler, but from everyone who came and provided insight as to their experiences out in Tennessee.

As the dinner ended and the alumni and sponsors left, the group offered the tables' flower centerpieces to our mothers and made our way out into an even colder and windier San Francisco to the BART Station. Making our way literally down the street, we were able to get there a bit quicker, though we had to wait a while for our train home to arrive. The ride was long and crowded. We were all very sleepy. We were enlightened that night, but dreaded the burden of having to blog on a school-night. To our salvation, Don let us know that this blog wasn't due until tonight, hence this blog being posted tonight and not a few ago. Nevertheless, the dinner was a splendid experience and with this to initiate the rest of our time with the ILC, our cohort made it through the night feeling extremely fortunate and excited for the days left to come for us- and that's how it should be, being grateful and appreciative of everything the ILC and life has given us the fortune of having.

I had a great time, getting to know and speak with those I had the chance to.

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