There is an atmosphere of excitement, uncertainty, anticipation and nervousness in the El Cerrito High School library. In a way, the prospect of boarding a plane to attend an Ivy League college, in my case, Columbia University, in about three weeks is a bit overwhelming.
A few of the students are visibly energized by this process, but many of us are unsure that we will be able to succeed this summer. The prospect of disappointing our parents looms over us. The more we are told how great an opportunity this is for us, the heavier the weight of everyone's expectations.
We know this is a great opportunity. We don't want to let anyone down.
In our small group we had the chance to hear from and ask questions of a student who had already attended the Columbia program. She was clear about our responsibilities and what we could expect, but at the same time she was very reassuring. Also her enthusiasm from her experience was infectious. I felt this was the most valuable part of the evening: hearing the concrete nuts and bolts from the perspective of a student.
It is a challenge to me to figure out what I want to see and do in New York. There is so much to choose from. In our program we can choose from the trips the RA's are leading on the weekends and we can also try to make special requests to our chaperone, Ms. L. It would almost be easier if we were given an arbitrary limit, say, "pick only things less than 50 years old," or "pick things that start with a vowel." I'm kidding of course, but it is also a bit overwhelming. I am comforted in the knowledge that whatever I ultimately select will probably be fantastic. After all, I'll be in the Big Apple!